Last year I found myself in a small, family-run butchery in Keimoes, up in the Orange River. They had some killer biltong, great droewors, but the thing which really caught my eye was some fresh A-grade beef fillet at a ridiculously low price of R92/kg. When you live in Cape Town, and cheap vacuum-packed fillet from God-knows where starts at R149.99/kg, this was the bargain to end all bargains. I bought 2kg, froze it and ate it on New Year’s Eve when I marinated it in red wine, garlic, herbs and olive oil, rolled it in cracked black pepper and braaied it – it was so tender, I could cut it with a spoon.
If this sets you drooling – and it should – then I hope you manage to find some meat even half as good. And when you do, here is a list of some of the finest reds which have come my way recently and which I think would be perfect accompaniments, of an equally high calibre, to suit such a fine piece of meat.
Rickety Bridge The Foundation Stone 2010 (R85 cellar door)
The farm describes this as a ‘Mediterranean Blend’ which is actually the perfect descriptor of this Shiraz-dominated wine. Other varieties include Tannat, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Grenache – a veritable feast of juicy, red-berried wines with plenty of leathery tannins. It’s a bold wine with real power and should be a great partner for a peppery fillet steak – also good with game too, I should imagine.
Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (R95 cellar door)
Kleine Zalze and cellarmaster Johan Joubert are becoming so synonymous with great Chenin, it’s easy to forget they make fabulous, affordable reds as well. This one has had a good dose of new oak (40% for 16 months) but the lush, ripe, black fruit is more than capable of handling it with aplomb. If you ever get the chance, try it with Terroir chef Michael Broughton’s Oxtail as well.
Eikendal Classique 2009 (R150 cellar door)
To my mind, this is one of the most underrated Bordeaux blends in SA today. It’s Merlot-driven with almost equal quarters of Cabernet Sauvignon and then Cabernet Franc and winemaker Nico Grobler has created an elegant wine which reflects the cooler-climate of the Helderberg. Dense black berries and cherries, plushy tannins and an endless finish. He recommends adding some fresh rocket on your fillet.
Waterkloof Circumstance Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (R155 cellar door)
Waterkloof is getting greener by the day, what with chickens, horses, natural yeasts and other initiatives on and around the farm. Their Circumstance range comes from some of the highest vineyards on the farm which winemaker Werner Engelbrecht believes helps reduce yields and improve quality. Dark, soft and smooth with hints of chocolate and berries – chilli/choc sauce anyone?
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz/Viognier 2009 (R189 cellar door)
This is the eagerly-anticipated release of the Platter 5 Star wine we’ve all been waiting for! Made from 90% Shiraz (mostly from Bot River) and 10% Franschhoek Viognier, all the grapes are farmed organically before being co-fermented to allow the flavours to integrate seamlessly. A rich and spicy wine with some perfume and white pepper, this demands nothing less than the best in a food partner.