Maths has never been my strong point. Ask me dates, ask me quotes, ask me the gestation period of an elephant (two years) and I am right there with the answer, but maths? Naw – bring on the calculator. This numeric incompetency may well account for why I love blended wines so much, because the theory behind all the best blends is that 1 + 1 = 3. And sometimes even more. So here is my choice of some of the best-tasting and best-value red blends around and my advice is to buy these wines in multiples because one bottle just isn’t going to be enough.
All prices and vintages from Ultra Liquors and are correct as of 5th July 2011.
Brampton Old Vine Red 2008 R39.99
The 2009 vintage of this wine did really well in the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show this year, beating many more prestigious labels. It’s a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz and offers lots of dark berried fruits with hints of chocolate and vanilla on the finish.
Cape Point Vineyards Splattered Toad Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 R39.99
Funky labels, part of the profits going to good causes – all you need now is for the wine to be tasty and it’s an all-round winner. And indeed, that is the case. Duncan Savage makes great wines whatever the level and this is a lovely, juicy, ripe and elegant wine which over-delivers in all sorts of ways.
Cloof Wines Inkspot 2009 R37.99
This has been the best-selling wine for Cloof for the past few years and it’s easy to understand why. They call it a Vin Noir or Black Wine which refers to the deep, inky colour of this Pinotage, Shiraz and Cinsaut blend. Spicy and savoury – needs a good stew.
Landskroon Paul Hugo Red 2010 R31.99
The Paul Hugo range offers great value in both white and red versions but it is this one which I think the most interesting. It’s a mix of Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Merlot – unusual until you remember than Landskroon are big Cab France fans and make it extremely well. This is surprisingly elegant with plenty of blackberries and a refreshing herbal twist.
Overhex Balance Cabernet/Merlot 2010 R34.99
This large organisation on the outskirts of Worcester is making some incredibly good value wines at a range of price levels. This is a great soft, juicy wine with character and charm – if you really want a bargain, they also have the 2009 Shiraz/Merlot available in-store at a mad R29.99. Great gluggers the pair of them.
Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap 2010 R34.99
Apparently this wine was on special in one of the big supermarkets recently when 3 bottles of the red Wolftrap plus one of the newly-released white cost a mere R100!! It’s a little bit more now but this wine is still one of the best value around. A Rhone blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier, it’s light and juicy with cherries and berries abounding.
Rietvallei John B Red 2010 R31.99
An unusual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tinta Barocca which is winning heaps of fans both at home and overseas. Rietvallei is a very social-media savvy outfit and there is plenty to talk about both on and off-line with this wine – it’s ripe, smooth, soft and juicy. A great partner for a nice spicy curry.
Slanghoek Cellars Camerca 2009 R29.99
I was really impressed by the 2008 vintage of this Bordeaux blend when I tried it last year and this one is a worthy successor. Made from Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc with a Merlot middle, it’s a black-fruit party in a glass but with enough structure to handle warming winter food. Incredibly good value.
Solms Astor Langarm 2010 R39.99
This is the label owned by the rich and the not-so-rich at Solms Delta – Richard Astor is the overseas investor in the brand which is co-owned by the workers on the estate. It’s a great Cape Blend of mainly Pinotage, made in a juicy, early-drinking style and intended for easy enjoyment. Sounds good to me!
Villiera Down to Earth Red 2009 R36.99
An interesting blend and no mistake! This is a combination of a classic Portuguese variety, Touriga Nacional and a Southern French favourite, Shiraz. It’s drily fruity with ripe soft tannins, plenty of dark berries and a savoury finish. Great food partner.
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