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
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.