A whole fillet of beef is one of my favourite things to cook on a braai. Actually, it’s one of my favourite things to cook in the oven as well, because it’s quick, easy, incredibly tasty and fabulously decadent as well!
My top tips for cooking a fillet are 1) oil the meat, not the pan or the grill and 2) let it rest somewhere warm for at least two minutes longer than you think you need to! I like it rolled in cracked black pepper before hand and, if I’m feeling unusually organised, I will make a creamy wholegrain mustard and mushroom sauce to go with it as well.
So when I have gone to all this trouble over the food, I want to make sure that my wine matches it to perfection. I’ve been very fortunate recently to have come across some top-class red wines, all of which would be amazing with fillet steak, none of which comes in at what I would term an ‘everyday price.’ But, as my mother would say, ‘a little of what you fancy, does you good’, so next time you fancy fillet – why don’t you splash out and give one of these a go as well??
Russo 2007 Bordeaux Blend R102 from the farm www.russowines.co.za
This is the maiden harvest from Durbanville boutique cellar, Russo – an Anglicised version of owners Henk and Teresa Rossouw’s name. Teresa is the winemaker and in this Bordeaux blend of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, it is the Cab Franc currently dominating on the nose with tomato leaves and licorice. Well-integrated tannins, supple, spicy oak and plenty of lively black fruit. An impressive debut.
Nitida Calligraphy 2009 R115 from leading independent retailers
This has been missing from the shelves for the last few years as Nitida waited for the vineyards to be replanted. Five years after the last Calligraphy was released, it has stormed back into contention winning medals within a month of bottling,and tasting as if it never went away. A large dollop of Cabernet Franc adds spice and liveliness to the soft, rounded Merlot whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon brings colour, depth and length. One of my favourite Bordeaux blends and I am delighted to see it back at such a good price.
Hartenberg Shiraz 2006 R130 cellar door and leading independent retailers
This is the cheapest of the trio of Shirazes I am recommending today – which does not surprise me one whit. Hartenberg is a true class act with nothing to prove when it comes to making top-class wines of power, elegance and longevity. They have the largest privately-owned maturation cellar in SA and winemaker Carl Schultz says his wines can go for 20 or even 30 years with ease. Full of spice and red fruit with ripe tannins and perfumed aromatics.
Cape to Cairo Syrah 2006 R150 OR R350 for 6 bottles in wooden case with map.
This is made by legendary Syrah winemaker, Nico van der Merwe of Saxenburg but the owner of the brand is patent lawyer, Otto Gerntholtz and the groovy packaging is inspired by his travels in Africa. The wine itself is extremely approachable with lush, elegant tannins, ripe, sweet black fruit and a pleasing backbone and length. All the typical Syrah notes – pepper and violets – wrapped up in dark spicy oak.
Emineo Liber III 2007 Rhone blend R200 from email@example.com
This comes from the same stable as the Cape to Cairo but involves a third partner in its creation – Diemersdal’s Thys Louw, himself no stranger to Syrah success. This blend is of Syrah and Mourvedre and is made from Durbanville and Swartland fruit. A heady perfumed nose with whiffs of peppers, cloves and cedar pencils gives way to very polished and elegant fruit with a lazily confident finish. Really enjoyed this wine – worth every cent.