For when you need to splash out a bit on that special bottle.
Bring on the over-indulgence because I am soooo ready for it! This year I shall be having a chilly UK Christmas so lots of red wine will definitely be appropriate but if I was celebrating here, I would probably have a special red as well. Think whole fillet on the braai, roast lamb, springbok loin – all of them crying out to be served with something rich, deep, intense and delicious. Here are six excellent examples which have come my way recently.
La Bri Merlot 2010 R90 from the cellars
This Franschhoek farm burst onto the scene earlier this year when it walked off with the Merlot Trophy at the Old Mutual show. A merlot from Franschhoek? Really? Well, yes actually and not only is it very good, but it’s also very well-priced. Irene Waller is proudly-Franschhoek and is on a mission to tell the rest of the world that the valley is good for more than just food and festivals. This Merlot is a soft, ripe and juicy affair with plenty of savoury backbone to it and a long, lingering finish. Try it with gammon or ham.
Vrede en Lust Boet Erasmus 2009 R150 from the farm
Susan Erasmus has been a busy lady the last year producing several new wines and a new baby. This wine is the flagship red of the collection and is a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated red with spice, black fruit, depth of flavour and a rich, savoury finish. I loved this with a fillet on the braai but think it would probably handle chops, sausage and sosaties as well.
Constantia Glen Three 2009 R150 from the cellar
Consultant to this beautiful Constantia farm is Dominique Hebrard, ex-owner of Chateau Cheval Blanc so it comes as no surprise that this wine is mainly Merlot with a very decent chunk of Cabernet Franc on the side. A 3-way Bordeaux blend (doh – really!!) using cool-climate Constantia fruit may scare some green-o-phobes off but they should have no fears with this wine. Elegant, discreet, balanced and flavoursome with a long finish. Roast lamb or beef should do perfectly.
Le Bonheur Tricorne 2009 R200 from selected retailers
Sakkie Bester is very well-known for another red blend – the Prima – which he has made every year since 1988 and which never fails to impress. Prima is 100% Bordeaux blend, but here the blend is a bit more South African being a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. He’s done some interesting things with it – used some old American oak, no skin-contact on the Shiraz – and the wine is packed with spicy black berries, perfumed pepper and smoke. Great partner for a deluxe charcuterie plate.
Doolhof Theseus 2009 R230 from the cellars
This was launched recently at a lovely lunch along with a few other wines from the estate, now being packaged and marketed as the Legends of the Labyrinth series. This is the flagship wine – as befits the heroic name – and is a full-on 5-way Bordeaux blend. At first tasting, I thought it smelt much better than it tasted, but time proved me completely wrong. If you are drinking this now, add to the occasion by decanting the wine an hour or so beforehand if you can. And if you can’t, then pour it into the biggest glasses you can find, swirl and sip and enjoy with fillet steak – the wine really calls for nothing less than the best.
Hartenberg The Stork Shiraz 2008 R380 from the farm
Bow down! We are not worthy! The long-awaited local release of this iconic Shiraz takes Hartenberg’s speciality grape to a whole new level by winning the prestigious Syrah du Monde earlier on this year. Carl Schultz likes to age his wines before release and clearly his wines show better after a year or two in their cool cellars. This comes from a single vineyard site and has broad, rich yet elegant and perfumed flavours and aromas of baked meats, violets and cherries. A good Christmas gammon should be a great match.
Follow @CathyMarston and @food24 on twitter for food and wine news.