Grand Cru d'Antsirabe Cuvée Rouge Viala

[This wine was drunk as a special birthday wine whilst on vacation in Madagascar earlier this month. I may have mistyped the name – I still haven’t found the picture I took of the label, so bear with me for now if I got it wrong!]

On the way into Antananarivo from the airport at Ivato, I somehow convinced our tour guide to stop the bus at a Jumbo hypermarket so that we could do some souvenir shopping. Unbelievably, there was an absolutely humongous wine selection available, so I grabbed the most expensive bottle of Madagascan wine I could find, hoping that it would turn out to be OK. Having already spent a week in country at the time, I’d drunk enough Madagascan wine to know that it was pretty dire, ranging from absolutely undrinkable (Ch. Verger) to not entirely awful if you were already kind of pissed on beer (Clos Malaza).

Anyhow, for just over £3, you can buy a bottle of Grand Cru d’Antsirabe’s very finest red wine, which is produced from 80+ year old vines growing a few hours south of Antananarivo, the capital. Here are the tasting notes I took at the time:

Very fruity on the nose, more at Hawaiian Punch than wine. A hint of camphor or perhaps allspice. With some time, fine wild strawberries. Thin with a nasty green edge… slightly tannic, astringent finish. Sort of a white pepper edge. Better as you drink it. “Kind of like a Beaujolais that’s gone off” – this from Jeremy, one of the Englishmen who made up the bulk of our tour group (we were the only Americans). Really, this isn’t bad. Quite an accomplishment to have made a wine of this quality given the circumstances.

After we finished the bottle, it was kind of fun to note that the bottle was as thin and light as bottles used to be back in the days of the USSR. I wonder where they bought the bottles? The cork itself was a short, but high quality agglomerate cork. The label was, well, ugly, surprisingly so given that the “regular’ Grand Cru d’Antsirabe bottles don’t look half bad (we had one with dinner at the Hotel de France in Tana later on that week).

All in all, this stuff was like a cheap Beaujolais and really not too bad. Still, if you’re going to Madagascar, don’t expect delicious local wines. Try the beer. Three Horses Beer Light isn’t bad.

Grand Cru d’Antsirabe
Price: 10,800 Madagascar ariary, or about $6.50 US
Closure: Cork
Date tasted: October 2008

1 thought on “Grand Cru d'Antsirabe Cuvée Rouge Viala

  1. I think it is awesome that you not only tasted Madagascan wine, but tasted enough of it to determine the finest 🙂 It doesn’t sound great, but to expect more is perhaps missing the point.

    Fascinating note…

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