Is there anything better than a ‘tjop ‘n dop’ on National Braai Day? Of course not and in my book, it’s even better if the ‘dop’ is wine and not beer. It’s thirsty work braaiing so try and remember that wine is stronger than beer and don’t embarrass yourself by keeling over halfway through – try a block or two of ice in your whites or alternate each glass of wine with a glass of water. Here are my top ten wines to have with the top five favourite things to throw on the grill.
Boplaas 'Ring of Rocks' CMT 2007 R75 cellar door
I had this after a really not terribly good day recently and it cheered me up no end. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Touriga Nacional – the main grape variety used in Port. Not surprising really, since this comes from those peerless port producers, Boplaas. It’s rich, rounded, savoury with a creamy silky finish. Perfect with a whole fillet rolled in cracked black peppercorns.
Uitkyk Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2006 R80 from specialist retailers.
Australia’s favourite red blend is also finding plenty of favour here in SA as well. It’s 50/50 and what I like about it is that it has had time to age, knit together and relax into the bottle – which is pretty much what I felt like doing as well when I drank it. Comes from vines which are up to 20 years old – and more – and is complex and rich with a long peppery finish.
Knorhoek Pinotage 2009 R65 from specialist retailers
Had to have a Pinotage on this Proudly South African day! This is a very good value example – in fact, I am becoming increasingly impressed with this winery and its ability to send forth tasty, well-made wines at decent prices. It’s a chunky, gutsy number with plenty of black cherries and a hint of leather – should be a good match for a fragrant coriander-spiced sausage.
Creation Whale Pod Syrah Malbec 2010 R69.50 cellar door
This is the second label of rapidly up-and-coming winery, Creation, in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. It’s an unusual to see these two grape varieties together – in fact, I don’t think I have ever done so before – but it’s not a problem as the lively, peppery spices of the Shiraz are offset by ripe black berries and velvety tannins. This is crying out for something equally spicy, perhaps with a hint of chilli on the side.
Clos Malverne Merlot 2009 R76 cellar door
This is the first Merlot from Devon Valley winery, Clos Malverne who are probably better known for the Pinotages and Cape Blends. Lately, they have been having great success with Bordeaux varieties with their cooler slopes producing good Merlot in particular. Basket-pressed to create soft, pliable tannins with plummy fruit and hints of chocolate, this will be a good partner for meaty spare ribs.
Van Loveren Cramond Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot NV R32 cellar door
I’m suggesting this with ribs, but to be honest, you could pretty much drink it with anything. That’s the kind of thing I often find myself saying about Danelle van Rensburg’s wines because they’re just so darned gluggable. Made from 60% Cabernet and the balance Merlot, this is ripe and juicy with hints of mint chocolate and a berry finish. Great price too.
The Drift ‘Year of the Rooster’ Rosé 2010 R60 cellar door
Well what else could I possibly recommend to go with chicken than a rooster? Made from a blend that may seem bizarre (Pinotage, Touriga Francesca, Viognier and Syrah) until you realise the winemaker is Flagstone’s Bruce Jack – no stranger to the wild and wacky. This has masses of red fruit flavours with an appealing herbaceous edge – ideal with a Cape Malay-spiced thigh or two.
Lomond Pincushion Sauvignon Blanc 2007 R105 from the Bergkelder
This single-vineyard wine comes from right at the very tip of Africa and it is the cooling influence of the sea which gives it distinct flavours and character. Many people would be horror-struck at the idea of a 4 year old Sauvignon, but this wine is just starting to hit its stride and gives you wonderful citrus and subtle honey and herb notes which makes it the perfect match for chicken kebabs.
Swartland Winery Winemaker’s Collection Viognier 2010 R65 cellar door
Until I came to South Africa, I had never heard of anyone eating fish with apricot jam. And then I went to my first snoek braai and was hooked! Swartland Winery are synonymous with cheap and cheerful quaffers, but this wine shows just what they can do when they try. Classic Viognier flavours of apricots and peaches with lively spice, this will go really well with the fish.
Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Chenin Blanc 2011 R35 cellar door
Are there any better value Chenins in SA than those from Kleine Zalze? I really don’t think there are you know, and this is the best of them all. It's the unwooded one, but that doesn’t make it lean and mean because there’s been a tiny amount of botrytis-affected fruit added in for extra richness. Lots of citrus and lipsmacking acidity – perfect for seared tuna steaks.