Blend into a warm win­ter

Win­ter is the sea­son when big red wine blends come into their own as the per­fect com­pan­ion to share around the fire­place — or at ta­ble with rich, ro­bust sea­sonal fare. Gra­ham Howe ex­plains

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AT A re­cent wine tast­ing I at­tended, Frans Smit, cel­lar mas­ter at Spier, spoke about his pur­suit of a “su­per-blend” and the search for a new gen­er­a­tion of iconic wines which will make South African wine renowned around the world. “Blend­ing wine gives you the op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve se­lected vine­yard blocks that best re­flect cul­ti­var and ter­roir, and blended them to cre­ate ex­cit­ing new com­bi­na­tions.”

Warm up win­ter with ex­cit­ing new re­leases of the best of the Cape’s new blends:

I at­tended the launch of a maiden trio of big red wines from an ex­cit­ing new bou­tique pro­ducer in Devon Val­ley in Stel­len­bosch. Helene van der Westhuizen (ex-Diemers­dal) has made a win­ter wine with cedar and to­bacco aro­mas, a fruity, flo­ral palate and smoky mul­berry nu­ances.

Peter Fin­layson’s unique Ital­ian-style blend changes each vin­tage led by San­giovese with an eclec­tic mix of Pinot Noir, Shi­raz, Neb­bi­olo, Mourve­dre and Pino­tage. He drinks more of this wine than any other, say­ing “the dif­fer­ent grapes paint di­verse taste colours”.

Con­stan­tia Glen has re­leased its maiden red Bordeaux blends. Wine­maker Karl Lam­bour de­scribes the five­way Con­stan­tia Glen 2007 as “an ex­er­cise in bal­ance, tex­ture and struc­ture”. Con­stan­tia Sad­dle 2007, a blend of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, Caber­net France and Mer­lot is more min­eral. Made from two vine­yards which pro­duce the best fruit year af­ter year, this Caber­net Sauvi­gnon based wine with a splash of Caber­net Franc is made in the cel­lar’s el­e­gant house-style. A wine with old-world poise and fi­nesse, it has al­lur­ing aro­mas of spice, cas­sis and to­bacco, firm tan­nins and fresh red berry fruit.

This flag­ship blend, one of the top Bordeaux-style wines in the Cape was again rated a cov­eted five stars in Plat­ter’s SA Wines 2010 Guide. The sixth vin­tage — a seam­less blend of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, Caber­net Franc and Mer­lot — shows great in­ten­sity of pure fruit in a pot­pourri of black cher­ries, black­ber­ries and spice.

An eclec­tic blend of Shi­raz, Pino­tage, Mer­lot and Mourve­dre over­laps Bordeaux, the Rhône and the Cape in a ripe, sump­tu­ous wine which show­cases the sig­na­ture Shi­raz va­ri­ety and ter­roir of the Swart­land. Only 600 cases were made us­ing na­tive wild yeasts from dry land vine­yards to ac­cen­tu­ate the rich, nat­u­ral flavours.

At a wine tast­ing at Si­mon­sig, we tasted the new re­lease of their 4,5 star bench­mark Bordeaux blend. Cel­lar mas­ter Johan Malan says, “The el­e­gance of the Mer­lot up­lifts the cedar, cigar box nu­ances of Caber­net, the Petit Ver­dot adds colour and tan­nin while Caber­net Franc adds per­fumed fruit and gen­tle fra­grance.”

This Rhône blend of Shi­raz, Grenache, Carig­nan, Mourve­dre, and Viog­nier by al­chemist Hilko Hegewisch cre­ates a wine greater than the sum of its parts. An in­tense, spicy wine with savoury char­ac­ter and dried orange peel aro­mas, it is a great win­ter warmer.

In- spired by a Spier art project which com­bines small blocks of art by dif­fer­ent artists into a larger art­work, this new range cre­ates a new syn­ergy of flavours out of dif­fer­ent vine­yard blocks. A Rhône blend, it com­bines the spicy, pep­pery char­ac­ter of Shi­raz with savoury Mourve­dre and fra­grant Viog­nier.

This five-way Bordeaux-style blend is a rich wine with a big mid-palate, com­bin­ing juicy plum and black cher­ries with spicy cin­na­mon and cloves.

The home of the first Bordeaux-style blend in the Cape keeps pro­duc­ing big red wines with stay­ing power three decades on. This Mer­lot-based blend. with Caber­net Franc and Caber­net Sauvi­gnon, shows a palate of rich con­cen­trated flavours of black cur­rent and black berries, cloves and dried herbs.

This hearty, full-bod­ied blend of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon and Mer­lot from Stel­len­bosch was aged for 14 months in a mix of French, Amer­i­can and Hun­gar­ian oak. Wine­maker Bonny van Niek­erk says it has a rich, creamy and com­plex palate with in­tense spici­ness, vanilla and de­light­ful berry fruit.

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