REDS TO WARM THE COCKLES…
Apparently it was minus 8 deg in Sutherland last night, which rendered our five degrees in the McGregor valley comparatively warm. But the nights are still bone-chilling and the air is snowy. Definitely weather for warming, robust reds, and here is a mix of recent releases sampled that all qualify, although each is distinctly different from the next.
I apparently missed a good function at Simonsig recently when the 2011 vintage of their famous Tiara Bordeaux blend was released at the convivial Stellenbosch estate. Not only was there a vertical sampling of the Tiaras but, as always, an excellent lunch at their Cuvee restaurant to savour. The blend is celebrating its 25th anniversary, with the latest vintage melding 66% cab with 21% merlot, 9% petit verdot and 4% cab franc. Unsurprisingly the cab dominates, the other cultivars adding seamless depth, flavour and character to a renowned blend which – already enjoyable – needs a few more years to reach its potential. It sports its double gold from Veritas with pride. Retail price: R245.
Next up a 2012 cab from Eikendal which has already collected a couple of awards from Europe and the UK, and made it into the Top 10 dry reds at the Trophy Wine show a month back. It is a classic Helderberg cab, dark and full-bodied yet not heavy, berry flavours nicely balanced with complex structure and well integrated wood. Along with beef, this should complement both ostrich and North African meat dishes well. The 14,5% alcohol level is not readily apparent. In place of the usual description, winemaker Nico Grobler offers a single remark on the back label; “No stone was left unturned to create this quality.” Retail price: R220.
Moving from patrician to pleb, I was pleased to see that Leeuwenkuil Cinsault 2014 walked off with the trophy for Best Niche Red Variety at this year’s Trophy Wine show. Delighted, in fact, and for two reasons – every wine sampled from this family vineyard in the Paardeberg has proved to be a winner in my book, and secondly, I am nearly as keen on cinsaut as I am on chenin, therefore it’s great to see cinsaut being given attention and making a comeback, so that the red “workhorse” grape is likely to enjoy a renaissance and surge in popularity similar to the one that chenin is experiencing.
As with chenin, old dryland vineyards are being restored, and the Leeuwenkuil has proved that its venerable vines are up to the standard demanded of them. This is a charmer, with berry flavours melded with the savoury earthiness of spiced black olives. Smooth tannins provide agreeable structure and it can be recommended both for a winter lunchtime aperitif, and will go on to enhance robust pasta dishes and Greek classics like moussaka. Retail price: R100.
The time is ripe for gluhwein, and Leopard’ Leap Lookout cab sauvignon/shiraz 2014 is the ideal candidate for cooking up this classic warmer. This easy-drinking blend, a mix of cab and shiraz finished with cinsaut, is a lightweight wine with fruit and chocolate on the palate. Leopards Leap recipe for a fireside vitamin-enhanced celebration follows:
1 bottle Lookout cab sauvignon shiraz
50ml lemon juice
150ml orange juice
1 – 2 cinnamon sticks
6 – 8 cloves
Combine all ingredients and het gently until near boiling point, strain in to a warmed bowl and serve in wine glasses. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or cinnamon sugar if desired.