Hard to believe it's more than four years since I went to the launch of The Game Reserve wines, an impressive new range created by cellarmaster Erika Obermeyer and destined to raise substantial funds for the Wilderness Foundation.
At that time Erika was making the still wine for Graham Beck Wines and getting numerous awards for her fine efforts. She started the conservation-focussed range with her cabernet sauvignon and chenin blanc, both of which were very successful and continue to be top-rated wines of this pleasing line-up today. Front labels illustrate the chosen game reserve animal, back labels offer information on its habitat, along with tasting notes. The trio of whites, a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc , all 2015 vintage, salute the fish eagle, Cape Eagle Owl and highly endangered Riverine rabbit, while the four reds, all 2014 vintage, sees the bat-eared fox on the pinotage label,while the Cape clawless otter (now thriving in the restored Vink river system, thanks to Rooiberg farmers) graces the merlot bottles. Appropriately the magnificent Cape leopard and Africa’s largest antelope, the eland, are depicted on the cab and shiraz respectively.
To elaborate on my two favourites, the chenin is a beguiling wine, with melon and citrus aromas giving way to a salad of tropical fruit , with pleasing freshness. Makes a great companion to a feast of summery fare and for spicy Asian creations and is an appealing tribute to the long-eared riverine rabbit which is surviving in the reserve.
The cab is a fine example of careful blending of grapes from three regions into a complex mix where berry, dark chocolate, plum and spicy flavours mingle, backed by firm tannins and presenting a long finish. The Cape leopard on its label has been discovered in several areas along the Langeberg mountains including the Breede conservancy and on other leopard-friendly farms, which are all playing a vital role in maintaining its genetic diversity.
These wines are keenly priced, ranging from R53 to R71, and no less than R3 from the sale of every bottle sold flows to the Wilderness Foundation. Rooiberg Wines have committed to continuing this arrangement for at least five years, already raising nearly R50 000 between July and October last year. The funds have been shared between the Cape Leopard Trust and Conservation @ Work, as well as other projects.
Visitors to the Robertson Wine valley during May can pause at the cellar with its giant red chair and sample the range along with Rooiberg’s other fine wines, before adding a case or two to their car boots. That goes for travellers who intend heading to this year’s Wacky Wine Weekend, as well. Do-good makes for feel-good, adding another layer of enjoyment to some terrific wines.