BOEKENHOUTSKLOOF CHOCOLATE BLOCK 2010 (R175)
In his travels through the winelands of France and northern Spain, Boekenhoutskloof cellarmaster Marc Kent hit on the idea of blending Cabernet Sauvignon into a Rhône blend to increase the structure and weight of the wine. He sought out hitherto “undiscovered” vineyards and in 2002 his blend of 15 French oak barrels became the ?rst Chocolate Block.
The 2010 blend has rocketed to 1 035 barrels and is a heady mix of crushed pepper, cloves, cinnamon, black cherries and berries. The palate is invitingly soft and textured with perfectly integrated tannins and will age well for ? ve to seven years.
Why you love it: “The sexiest mouthful around.” – Anne Morgan
Pair it with: Moroccan lamb with pumpkin couscous.
Bargain basement stand-in: Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap Red 2010 (R40) – more serious than its price suggests, this tasty Rhône blend is a great companion at a braai.
KANONKOP PAUL SAUER 2008 (R330)
One of the three red wines that have ? lled this Stellenbosch estate’s trophy cabinet with awards for over 30 years, this blend is only marginally more elegant than its Cabernet Sauvignon.
A sumptuous blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, it has been aged for 24 months in new French oak and has a bright ruby colour, a concentrated nose of blackcurrants, liqourice, spices and dusty cigar-box oak and an elegant, brooding palate with long-lasting tannins. It will age and grow in complexity for 10 to 15 years.
Why you love it: “A blue-blooded aristocrat in every way.” – Faheemah Mayet
Pair it with: Roast rib-eye with Bearnaise sauce
Bargain basement stand-in: Thelema Mountain Red 2008 (R60) – pure, clean fruit is key to the charm of this Merlot-Shiraz blend.
MEERLUST RUBICON 2007 (R280)
When Meerlust Estate owner Nico Myburgh made his pioneering red blend in 1980, he felt as Caesar did when crossing the Rubicon on his way to Rome: “There was no turning back”. Hence the name of the wine, which has gained worldwide renown, awards and respect.
The 2007 is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and spent 20 months in oak, 70 percent new. It is a superbly understated wine with a dense, opaque ruby colour, a nose of cassis, mulberry, violets and cedary oak, and a re? ned, creamy oak palate with long silky tannins. As winemaker Chris Williams says: “It’s got soul”.
Why you love it: “For its long-standing class and international recognition.” – Janine van Zyl
Pair it with: Game steak with mushroom cream sauce
Bargain basement stand-in: Vondeling Petit Rouge 2010 (R39) – a great-value, smooth and wellrounded Merlot-dominated red blend from this up-and-coming Voor Paardeberg winery.
SPRINGFIELD WHOLE BERRY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2009 (R93)
Abrie Bruwer of Robertson’s Spring? eld Estate has made a very modern red using time-honoured techniques. Grapes are hand harvested, carried to the cellar in baskets and put uncrushed into open tanks to ferment with natural yeasts. After one year’s maturation in French oak, the wine is bottled un? ltered and unre? ned.
The result is a velvety smooth red with all the richness, dark fruit and structure of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, but with the supplest, smoothest of tannins.
Why you love it? “For its ripe, juicy, luscious burst of berries.” – Anne Morgan
Pair it with: Rack of lamb with crushed coriander and granadilla
Bargain basement stand-in: Brampton Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (R55) – blackcurrants abound in this well-structured, well-priced Cabernet.
WARWICK THREE CAPE LADIES 2009 (R115)
Pinotage is South Africa’s own grape and it is fitting that a Cape blend should have a good dollop of Pinotage. Each of the four varietals from esteemed Stellenbosch estate, Warwick, makes a signi?cant contribution: Pinotage adds plum and ripe red berry; Shiraz, spice and pepper; Cabernet Sauvignon, black fruit; and Mourvèdre, a savoury character.
Twenty-eight months’ oak maturation balances the fruit perfectly and it is a wine that will age well for at least 10 years.
Why you love it: “It’s proudly South African and lives up to its reputation.” – Olga von Grüning
Pair it with: Caldeirada - Portuguese fish stew
Bargain basement stand-in: Cederberg Cederberger 2008 (R70) – a smooth, well rounded, Pinotage-led blend from high-lying vineyards in the Cederberg Mountains.