Let’s face it – we’re all firing up the braai this holiday season aren’t we? And if we’re cooking, we need something to drink both whilst the meat is on the fire and also afterwards whilst it’s on the plate. To me, a good braai wine shouldn’t be too expensive, should be easy-going and likeable and if it’s sealed with a screwcap (for ease of opening) then so much the better. Here’s a few which I’ll be opening round my fire this summer.
Badsberg Chenin Blanc 2016 R38
The previous vintage of this wine was a much more serious affair involving oak and less contact. This year, they’ve gone for a simpler, unwooded style and to be honest, I really like it both ways. This is a cracking price for a great everyday glugger – lots of stone fruit, tropical fruit and a citrusy kick at the end.
Stofberg Family Vineyards Mia Chenin Blanc 2016 R62.70
This is the unwooded, everyday drinking version of Chenin from this up and coming wine farm in the Slanghoek Valley. Made seductively to preserve every ounce of the lovely, fresh, yellow fruit, this has great acidity and a lovely length and finish. Fab with or without food.
Haute Cabriere Chardonnay/Pinot Noir 2016 R85
How could we do any kind of braai-wine write-up and not include probably SA’s most popular wine? Under a new cellarmaster, Takuan von Arnim, this longtime favourite is getting a tad drier which is not a bad thing if you ask me. Still fresh, still zippy, still fruity, still eminently-drinkable.
Holden Manz Rosé 2016 R80
These wines are on an upward curve of improvement from previous incarnations – this wine in particular I recall being fairly clumpy and alcoholic. Not any more, it’s a great summer sipper, made from mainly Shiraz and bone-dry with plenty of bright red fruit, whiffs of perfume and spice and enough weight to handle food.
Rietvallei Cinsaut Shiraz 2015 R53
What a great braai-wine this is! Ticks all my boxes (crowd-pleasing, inexpensive and a screwcap) and adds in a lovely, cheery chunk of flavour – plenty of red and black fruit, sappy juicy tannins and hints of spice and leather. Nicely-balanced with just a whiff of smoky oak – all-round excellent fun this summer.
Simonsig Cab/Shiraz 2015 R60
Cab/Shiraz – that favoured combination of grapes much loved in Australia – is a match made in heaven. Long time ago, it was a blend used furtively in the cellars of Bordeaux but now Australia is really the new home of this blend and when I taste this, full of black, spicy berries, I am at a loss as to why we don’t make more of them here as well. Very yum.
Boplaas ‘A Twist of Fate’ 2015 R60
What an interesting wine! Two grape varieties, mistakenly planted and labelled as something else, combined together into a wonderful partnership. Tinta Barocca (Mistakenly-thought to be Shiraz) and Tinta Amarella (planted originally as Tinta Roriz) both originate from Portugal (very apt since the Nels are Kings of Calitzdorp Port Country) and this is a lovely fresh and juicy wine with unusual red fruit hints, leather and spice.
Bosman Family Vineyards Bo-Vallei Merlot 2015 R60
It’s tricky to get a good Merlot at a relatively low price – generally, when you cut costs, the quality goes out the window, leaving a fat, jammy mouthful of unpleasant fruit. But Corlea Fourie is incapable of making anything unpleasant and this wine really is an exception to my prejudiced rule. Ripe, soft black berries with a pliant structure and a lovely toasty finish.
Backsberg Pinotage 2015 R67
An excellent example of how this grape doesn’t need to be over-done to be successful. Made in a fairly delicate style with only old oak used and not too much extraction, everything has been done to preserve all the juicy fruitiness and to avoid Pinotage’s old faults of bitterness. I really enjoyed this wine – fantastic with a braaied ostrich steak.
Altydgedacht Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 R75
Fairly-low yields have given this wine an extra buzz of colour and intensity making for a very approachable example of what can sometimes be an austere and overly-dry grape variety. Plenty of black berried fruit, nice toasty oak and a creamy vanilla edge make this a great wine to partner with steak and chops.
Melck’s Red Shiraz/Merlot/Cab 2014 R95
The entry-level wine of this historic old estate, this is a great wine to glug in vast quantities with good friends. Not to be taken seriously but still a pretty serious entry into this price category. The Shiraz brings spice, the Merlot brings roundness and the Cabernet brings tannins and they all combine to give a solid, juicy mouthful of delicious black fruits.
- Cathy Marston