Fairview Goats Do Roam White 2008

Fairview Goats Do Roam White 2008

Fairview Goats Do Roam White 2008

So the wine for tonight is not expensive but is relatively rare in this part of the world – it’s a Goats Do Roam White 2008.  It’s produced by Fairview in the general vicinity of Paarl in South Africa, less than an hour from Capetown.  I first heard of their brand before I knew anything at all about wine, but even then I got the joke.

This is an entry level wine, but a good value for the price.  What makes it special for me is the scarcity of South African wines around here, combined with the nostalgia of having been to their cellar door and having seen the goat tower (and goats) in person whilst on honeymoon some years ago.  As you can see from the tasting notes on their website it’s an uncommon blend, and I really wish I could pick out the Crouchen Blanc but I don’t think I’ve ever had that as a straight varietal (unless one of those old bottles of Clare Riesling wasn’t actually Riesling).  The blend is:  Viognier 64%, Crouchen Blanc 18%, Chenin Blanc 13%, Pinot Gris 45, Muscat 1%.

Also, this bottle sports the classic label, which in some ways perhaps mimics French labels of the appropriate area.  There is a new goat logo, based on a Mesopotamian image, that I think they have been using in some markets since 2009.  I don’t think the new label is bad, but I do enjoy the classic.

I’m tasting it now, and while it might have been better two or three years ago, it did not disappoint.  Here’s my student grade tasting note.


Bright and clear, medium-minus intensity of a lemon-green colour with thick, slow legs when given a swirl.


Clean, with medium-plus intensity, and developing.  Aromas of pear, peach, almond, and some baked apple and custard.


Dry to off-dry, with medium-plus acidity, medium alcohol, medium-plus body, and medium-plus flavour intensity.  Flavours present include pear, lime, stone fruit, honey, almond, and some melon.  The finish is medium but clean and crisp.


The quality is good – solid acidity and flavour intensity (both medium-plus) give it a balanced intensity, and while the nose and palate weren’t overwhelmingly complex there was enough there if you took the time to look for it.  The length could have been better, and I think there would likely have been more crispness had I enjoy this at its peak, but it was a good wine and a solid performer for its price.

I would not have been able to guess the variety had I been served it blind, especially given I am unfamiliar with Crouchen Blanc which makes up the second largest component.  I might have put it in the New World given the how forward the fruit was, even after a few years, but I would not have been able to have been more specific than that.

It was under $10.00 which I would not have guessed (I would have thought more expensive), and 3 years old which I might have.

Readiness to drink – slightly past its prime, but not suffering overwhelmingly.

A Plan

First week, so I will be getting my head around what I’m expected to know.

This is my first task – writing up a study plan. It’s rough at this point, but I’ve listed all the main sections across four weeks, and I have this first week the planning with the last week reserved for review (and panic, no doubt).

Second, I need to read all the past exams that are available, and as importantly what the examiners had to say about the answers given by the students taking them. For our section on sparkling wine, I broke down how many questions related to which sections of our course material and concentrated my efforts on those areas. So I largely studied Champagne, crémants, and which grapes went into which types of sparkling wine. Our questions were Négociant-Manipulant, crémants, and Cava. I did fine, and was very pleased not to have spent too much time committing to memory the grapes and regions that are involved in making Lambrusco. (Of course, had their been a question on it, I would have had only myself to blame.)

Third, there’s the material in the books. Our Study Guide, aka The Red Book, has the bare basics for each subject and then a list of topics for further reading, each of which has its own entry in our second book, Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine (OCW). The OCW is essentially an encyclopedia of everything about wine at a level of detail appropriate for this course. It’s also available online if you subscribe to Jancis Robinson’s website. The Red Book has about 100 pages of information, and roughly 2000 terms listed for which we are meant to refer to the OCW. Some entries are tiny, such as the one for Mudgee, a wine region in New South Wales, Australia. Some are massive, such as the one for France. Fortunately, our Red Book breaks down the 2000 into some which are essential, some which are “Less Important” and some which are “Beyond the Syllabus”. No prizes for which will be getting the most attention from me.

The task for this week is to have broken down the Red Book sections into the four weeks in the middle of the six I have until the exam. I’ll be using that time to read the appropriate section in the Red Book and OCW, and making flash cards to go along with them.

Finally, this week I’ll be going through those 2000 entries and making a spreadsheet of them with a few pieces of data, such as their level of importance, and if they’re a grape or region. That’s almost certainly going to take more time than I’d like, but from some meta-work I did earlier this year, I have all of the Red Book terms available online, broken down by section, so at least I won’t be typing them all.

Week 1 – Getting ready to study (29 October – 5 December)

  • Study plan (mostly this update)
  • Review past exams and examiners’ notes
  • Pull out Regions and Grapes from Jancis terms

Week 2 – France (6 December – 12 December)

  • Bordeaux
  • South West France
  • Burgundy
  • Beaujolais
  • Alsace
  • Loire
  • Northern and Southern Rhone
  • Languedoc, Roussillon and Provence

Week 3 – Non-French Europe (13 December – 19 December)

  • England and Wales
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Romania
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Greece and Cyprus
  • Bulgaria

Week 4 – Americas (20 December – 26 December)

  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay and Brazil

Week 5 – Rest of the World (27 December – 2 January)

  • South Africa
  • North Africa
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South East Asia and India
  • Eastern Mediterranean

Week 6 – Review (3 January – 9 January)

  • Review everything
  • Practice exams
  • General panic
Finally, this is meant to be a little bit of study, a little bit of drinking.  Unfortunately, much of this update was itself part of studying (or at least making a plan to do so) and it’s still the middle of the day.  I do have a bottle in the fridge, but I’ll have to post details of it and a tasting note after I’ve opened it up.

Getting started

Over the next six weeks, I will be preparing for the WSET Diploma Exam for Unit 3.  I have an enormous amount of material to cover to pass the day long exam, and clearly I should have started on it months ago.  I did put some work into it over the last few months, and I’ve certainly attended classes and done some extra tasting sessions, but I often have a difficult time getting into the serious part of studying until the exam date is looming large on the calendar.  That day has come, so it’s time to get cracking.

This blog is intended as a diary of one way to approach the Unit 3 exam with 6 weeks left.  Should I pass, feel free to look upon it as a guide.  If I fail and have to resit, you’ll know perhaps 6 weeks isn’t enough time in which to absorb a year’s worth of material.