Anything but Cabernet!
In the wine world, ABC generally means ‘Anything But Chardonnay’ and is used by people who prefer the Sauvignon-side of life.
But there’s no real reason why it couldn’t mean ‘Anything But Cabernet’ and as climate change ramps up and makes SA an even warmer-climate country in which to make wine, people are increasingly looking at other grape varieties, particularly those from hot Mediterranean countries like Spain, Italy, Southern France and on the other side of the Iberian Peninsula, from Portugal.
Here’s 5 new wines which are making use of some more unusual grape varieties.
Spice Route Grenache 2012 R90 cellar door
This is the maiden vintage from Rhône Ranger extraordinaire Charles Back’s Spice Route farm and is a great example as to why we should plant more of this grape. It comes from young bushvines but already the flavours are interesting, with lots more complexity and intensity in store, I’m sure.
Right now it’s a juicy mouthful with lots of cherry/berry notes, hints of spice and a licorice finish. Try it with some good quality charcuterie or perhaps a rustic pate or terrine.
Rickety Bridge Foundation Stone Red 2012 R85 cellar door
So we all know Syrah/Shiraz – right? Well, this wine is based on Syrah, but then adds in goodly dollops of Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Tannat, Grenache and Viognier for a wonderful Mediterranean blend.
Everything was made and matured separately in barrel for a total maturation time of 18 months and then blended before bottling. The resulting wine is a savoury, juicy, fruity mouthful with black plums and spice and is an outrageous bargain at this price.
Anthonij Rupert Wines Terra del Capo Arne 2009 R125 cellar door
This is an unusual blend and no mistake. In Tuscany, the home of Sangiovese (the grape which makes up half this blend), you are occasionally permitted to add Cabernet and many people do to great, and expensive, effect. But the other half of this wine is Merlot which makes for an interesting blend and something a bit off the beaten track.
This wines melds fat black plums from the Merlot which are then lightened and freshened by the lively acidity and cheery red cherry fruit of the Sangiovese. A really successful effort and an interesting wine.
De Krans Tritonia Calitzdorp Blend 2011 R150 cellar door
A whole new category of wine for SA! This is what Boets Nel terms ‘a Calitzdorp Blend’, reinforcing the area’s excellence in growing Portuguese varieties and making stunning port-style wines.
It’s a mix of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca and Tinta Roriz and Boets would like to see combinations such as this achieve wider recognition both at home and overseas.
Success in the Top 100 SA Wines will no doubt help, but this is a great wine on its own merits and should be enjoyed with a hearty South African potjie or bredie.
Allesverloren Tres Vermelhos 2012 R150 cellar door
Another delicious blend of Portuguese grape varieties, this time led by Souzao followed by Tinta Barocca and Touriga Nacional. Allesverloren and owner/winemaker Danie Malan, has long been known for their port-style wines and as tastes and trends change, it makes sense to copy the Portuguese in producing still wines as well as fortified.
This is an almost 3-way split and importantly, has seen no new oak – something which I believe is a good thing with this potentially tannic varieties. Dark black-berried fruits with leather and spice. Try it with a good steak.