Although I drink plenty of wine – as my liver will attest – I actually rarely open a bottle of fortified or dessert wine – it’s just something I never remember to do! Which is a shame as we have amazing examples of both here in South Africa, available at all price levels and to suit all tastes. The Festive season is an excellent excuse to open something a bit different so here are ten of my favourite ports, sherries, jerepigos and sweeties. Something for everybody with recipes to match as well!!
De Krans Cape Tawny NV R95
This is the most amazing aperitif and, considering the amount of time and energy involved in making it, is probably the best value for money wine in South Africa! Full of nuts, marzipan, raisins and almost savoury dryness, it’s a wonderful partner for Double-baked Gruyere Souffles.
Boplaas Chocolate Cape Vintage Port 2008 R45 for a half bottle
What a cool idea! A sweet cherry/berry/chocolate mouthful of loveliness with a bit more structure and oomph than a straightforward wine. Try it with Mini Chocolate Cherry Puddings.
Landskroon Port 2005 R55
To my mind, this is the finest port in its price range – whilst other vintage ports are twice the price and more, this remains excellent value for money and offers more flavours than comparatively-priced ruby ports. Try it with a slice of Christmas Cake.
Solms-Delta Gemoedsrus NV R188
This isn’t quite a port although it looks and tastes very similar. It’s actually a desiccated Shiraz – they pinched the stems to stop the water getting through so the fruit dried on the vine – which they then fortify with grappa. Interesting orange peel hints with lots of chocolate notes so Crepes with Dark Chocolate and Orange should go perfectly.
Monis Pale Dry Sherry R54
Technically, we’re not supposed to call this sherry as the name is protected but it’s a bit easier! Monis make fabulous sherries and this is my favourite. Keep it in the fridge (dry sherry should always be served cool) and open it with some savoury snacks – try Roasted Olives.
Ridgeback Natural Sweet Viognier 2010 R73 for a half bottle
Delicate and floral with plenty of soft yellow stone fruit flavours and elegant sweetness balanced by lively acidity. There is a touch of oak in there too and the whole wine cries out for matching flavours – Individual Peach and Almond Tartlets – yummy!
Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Noble Late Harvest 2009 R110 for a half bottle
Platter’s White Wine of the Year and thoroughly well-deserved it is too. This wine stands out in any crowd as having class, length, complexity, freshness and the most wonderful soft fruit flavours. Try it with Profiteroles with Blue Cheese.
Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2010 R102
Always good value and always delicious, this NLH made from Riesling is consistently a Cape favourite. This year’s version is full of rich yellow fruit with tropical hints and would be a good match for Pineapple & Ginger Pudding.
Opstal Chardonnay Barrel Dessert 2008 R95
This is a fascinating experiment which happily went so well the first time it was made (garnering lots of awards) that it has been repeated ever since! The grapes are left on the vine until botrytis sets in at which point they are harvested, rested and then fortified. Flavours of oatmeal, almonds and hazelnuts suggest this Gorgonzola and Hazelnut Cheesecake should work perfectly.
Mullineux Family Straw Wine 2009 R190 for a half bottle
The Chenin grapes for this wine are picked and then dried out on straw mats, concentrating the grapes and increasing the sugar. They are then pressed and fermented to make a luscious, extravagant wine with plenty of honeyed sweetness and a clean acidic backbone. Try it with Camembert with Spiced Honeyed Walnuts and Pomegranate Syrup.