Traditional recipes

Two Delicious & Refreshing South African Wines

Two Delicious & Refreshing South African Wines

With every passing day the diversity of wines on US shelves is increasing and that’s a boon for wine lovers. I just tasted a couple of tasty offerings, one a blend, the other a single varietal. Despite being a white and a Rosé respectively they will drink well through the winter months accompanying a variety of cold weather dishes well.

Mulderbosch 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($13.99)

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé was produced from fruit sourced in South Africa’s coastal region. The vineyards utilized are tended with the production of Rosé in mind. After harvest and pressing the juice is

handled in the same manner they use for Sauvignon Blanc. That includes cool, temperature controlled fermentation and bottling as early as possible to maintain freshness of aromas and flavors. Mulderbosch whose history dates back 25 years is committed to sustainability and biodiversity in their practices. They act as shepherds of their own vineyards and deal closely with partner growers to ensure grape quality. The bold, Bing cherry hue of this Rosé is striking in the glass. It’s a bit darker than a lot of traditional examples. Wild strawberry and fresh cream aromas fill the nose. Like the color, the flavors are a bit bolder and firmer than some Rosé’s, but not overly so. Red cherry characteristics play a big role along with other red fruits and copious spices. Black pepper and cranberry flavors fill the long, crisp and ultra-refreshing finish. This would work marvelously as a brunch wine.

Fable Mountain Vineyard 2012 Jackal Bird ($35)

This white blend was produced using fruit sourced in the Western Cape region of South Africa. They use fruit from a variety of vineyards and strive with this wine to make the top white cuvee they can achieve from those parcels. In addition to Chenin Blanc (45%), the signature white grape of South Africa there is also Grenache Blanc (20%), Roussanne (17%), Chardonnay (9%), and Viognier (9%) blended in. Each component is picked, fermented and aged separately prior to blending. After it’s assembled it undergoes a light filtration prior to bottling. While they are a relatively new producer they grow with a commitment to biodynamic farming and use traditional methodology in production of wines. All of their vineyards sit between 1,300 and 2,100 feet in attitude.

White peach and apricot aromas play a role in the nose, but gorgeous floral characteristics lead the way. Jackal Bird has a full, round and lush palate loaded with orchard fruit. Pear flavors in particular, make their delicious presence known.

Stone fruits and bits of tropical fruits such as papaya are in play as well. A medley of peppercorn flavors, cardamom and minerals are all evident on the long, persistent and remarkably even finish. This is a gorgeous blend whose sum outshines any of the individual parts. Not a single varietal rise above the fray, instead they come together cohesively and beautifully. Drink it now in its glorious, fruit-laden youth or lay it down for 5-7 years, either way it’ll be delicious. Pair it with a roast pork loin for delightful results.

There is so much more that South Africa has to offer the wine world, but these two selections are a nice window into the wonderful aromatic wines that form one piece of the puzzle. Try them out and you’ll likely be inspired to dig deeper into the wines of South Africa, I know I am.


Match of the week

I actually experienced so many great wine and food matches last week in South Africa - some accidental, some intended - that it would be invidious to pick out just one as my match of the week so here are a dozen that really stood out for me. (See also my match of the week last week of Semillon and seafood)

As you can see from some of the menu descriptions South African cuisine can be quite complex, full of bold flavours that can make wine matching quite unpredictable so I wouldn&rsquot necessarily extrapolate from that to say that a specific combination would always work. For a more practical reference consult the list of wine varietals, styles and recommended wine pairings I&rsquoll be posting later this week.

Salmon tartare with sesame-crusted warm oyster, chilled potato, leek cream, ginger soy dressing with the 2008 Chamonix Sauvignon Blanc
Fish tartares are flavour of the month at the moment in South Africa and Sauvignon Blanc, particularly crisp mineral Sauvignons like this Chamonix suit them a treat. This was a great combination I had at Reuben&rsquos in Franschhoek. I also had a similar ceviche of seabream with a more foreward Fishhoek Sauvignon Blanc with Bruce Jack at his Flagstone winery which shows the a more zesty, citrussy style works well too.

Seared scallops, bacon foam and corn puree with Ken Forrester 2008 FMC Chenin Blanc
You might well think this umami-rich dish from Terroir at Kleine Zalze would be a perfect match for Chardonnay - and it would - but it was simply stunning with Ken Forrester&rsquos voluptuous signature Chenin Blanc

Prawn risotto with Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2009
At the same meal I had a light seafood risotto with the Raats Family Original (unoaked) Chenin Blanc which provided a lovely contrasting note of crisp, mineral freshness - working, when I thought about it later - in much the same way as an Italian white.

Smoked duck with chicory and fig salad with Flagstone Writer's Block pinotage
Like many I have my reservations about Pinotage but this is a great example of what the grape can deliver from Bruce Jack of Flagstone, inspirationally paired by chef Pete Goffe-Wood with spicy home-smoked duck breast and figs, a combination that played on Pinotage&rsquos own mocha notes

Spring roll with Bobotie and Creation 2008 Syrah Grenache
One of a number of clever canap pairings designed by Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines to go with their range. Bobotie is a traditional South African dish of curried mince, usually with some sultanas or raisins and the wine was in the fresh, peppery Rhone style rather than a blockbuster Shiraz. (It was also very good with shavings of Biltong which accentuated its savoury, gamey notes.)

Springbok loin and pistachio dusted ostrich liver, parsnip and coffee puree, fig and ash baked celeriac with Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2006
I doubt any of you would be able to replicate this complex dish from chef David Higgs at Rust en Vrede restaurant (I certainly couldn&rsquot) but the one element it needed to complement it was a touch of sweetness which it got in spades from Rust en Vrede&rsquos own full bodied shiraz. (Note though that this was 4 years old. I suspect a newly released shiraz - rather than the more subtle Syrah style would have been overpowering

Grilled quail, grapes, mascarpone, beetroot-cumin puree, couscous with herbs, mustard-hanepoot rosemary jus with Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2007
There&rsquos so much good Syrah/Shiraz in the Cape right now one's spoilt for choice but I loved this combination of spicy quail and a big savoury Rhone-style Syrah from the irrepressible Mark Kent. (Again at Reuben&rsquos)

Moroccan style lamb with Ras el Hanout with Raats Cabernet Franc 2007
I wasn&rsquot intending to mention any winemaker more than once but this combination of fresh-tasting but powerful Cabernet Franc from Bruwer Raats and Moroccan-style lamb at Terroir was surprisingly successful. (I&rsquod have been thinking more in terms of Syrah)

Peppered Chalmar rump, veal short rib ragout and caramelised pearl onion with La Riche 2005 Cabernet Reserve
One of the impressions I took away from this trip is how good South African Cabernet is now and this velvety, elegant La Riche one was just sensational with a very good dish of seared beef and braised veal at the recently opened Jordan restaurant (better than Syrah, I suspect, the recommended pairing. With pepper in the dish you don&rsquot really need pepper in the wine - the Cab provided a lovely sweet contrast.)

Caramelised grenadilla (passionfruit) tart with crushed hazelnut praline with Jordan&rsquos Mellifera
Again from George Jardine at Jordan, a knockout combination of just-warm, quivering passionfruit tart with a late harvest wine made from Rhine Riesling. The hazelnut praline also added a lovely nutty note to the pairing, preventing it from being oversweet.

Ken Forrester Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2007 with white cheddar and spiced apricot compote
Cheese is often accompanied by fruit or fruit compotes in South Africa so sweet wines are often a better bet than red - even with cheeses that aren&rsquot blue as this unexpected combination at Terroir proved. (The Chenin was very light and fresh, not oversweet) The apricot compote - spiced, I think, with cardamom - was so delicious I&rsquom going to have to try and get the recipe

2008 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay and cheddar-style cheese.
South Africa still has a way to go before it makes great cheeses but its presentation and use of them is second to none as you can see from this platter served at the Creation winery restaurant. Anthony Hamilton-Russell, who was at the tasting, told me that hard cheeses like cheddar (and, more particularly parmesan) were good with his sumptuously elegant Chardonnay and he was dead right. It worked a treat with the medium-bodied cheddar on this platter.

I visited South Africa as a guest of Wines of South Africa and its producers.

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First prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Finely grate the garlic clove and add it to the melted butter together with the orange juice, the lemon juice and the finely chopped dill. Mix everything well, season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil briefly and then remove from the heat.
Afterwards, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Cut the trout fillets into small portions and fry them in the pan, skin side down, for about 2-3 minutes. In the meantime, season the flesh side with a little salt and pepper, turn the fillets over and fry for a further 30 seconds so that the fish remains slightly pink in the middle. Arrange the fish on a plate and pour the sauce generously over it. Enjoy with a crisp green salad.

The Anthonij Rupert Cape of Good Hope Serruria Chardonnay 2018 impresses with its well-structured character and aromas of lemons and almonds and combines wonderfully with seafood and fish dishes. The Anthonij Rupert Riebeeksrivier Swartland Caroline 2018, with its harmonious interplay of acidity and fruit notes, is particularly well suited to light dishes. The Anthonij Rupert Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé 2018 also harmoniously matches salads and seafood with its crisp yet balanced acidity.


The Foundry 2017 Grenache Blanc

The Foundry started in 2001 as essentially a garage operation making wine out of an old blacksmith’s workshop. Today, the label is known for its Grenache, Syrah, and Rhone whites. This Grenache Blanc is full of texture, the product of whole-cluster fermentation in oak. It’s a persistent wine that showcases Grenache’s more delicate, introspective side. Drink it at room temperature.


South African Wines to Help Your Grill Game

We’ve entered peak barbecue season. Every night, you can walk around your neighborhood and smell the delicious aroma of cooking coals and grilling meat. It really is one of the true joys of the summer.

Pairing wine with barbecue can be a tricky endeavor. Do you stick to your reds? Do you splurge on something good if you’re just pairing it with something off the grill? And when you walk into the wine store, what the hell country should you choose?

A suggestion if we may: South Africa. South Africans are known for their love of barbecue, or braai. Nearly every country has their variation on barbecue and braai is short for braaivleis, which translates to “barbecued meat.” And they have their own rich history wine making to accompany some of their grilled specialties, such as boerewors (thick beef “farmer’s sausage”).

We’ve covered Mulderbosch’s 2012 Faithful Hound previously as part of our spotlight on Bordeaux blends, but we can’t stress enough how much this red suits meat straight from the barbecue. With its mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot, there is a diverse flavor profile. Upon first sip, there are bold (and refreshing) berry notes. The initial fruitiness segues into a smooth, almost creamy tasting experience and then ends with a subtle, but spicy finish that lingers—and entices you for another drink. As you can tell, we are big fans.

But a barbecue should always be balanced, so we have a white to recommend as well. Fish (sardines, crayfish, prawn and more) play a large part in any South African braai and we all know that whites pair the best with any gift from the sea. The 2011 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc is an especially crisp, bright wine. Chenin blancs are known for their diversity (the grapes can be used to make sparkling wines) and their sweetness (they are also used for dessert wines). The 2011 Mulderbosch could certainly be served as dessert wine, but with its very up front pear flavors and gentle honey finish, you’ll be pleased drinking a chilled glass or two of this on a hot day.

There you go. Now you’ve learned a little bit about South African braai and the South African wines that would be a hit there or at any American barbecue. Put the knowledge to good use!


South African Red Wines

Red Wines are prepared by crushing and fermenting the dark color black grapes. A few of the famous varieties of wines produced from the particular grape species are as follows:

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

A sharp intricacy to South African Cab makes the best alternative to fruit-forward cab valued from Paso, Sonoma and Robles, California. South African Cabernet Sauvignon lies between the New and the Old world. In this case, it is rivaled only by Bordeaux stable mate Merlot and Pinot Noir. Cabernet has successfully spread to all winegrowing countries in the world. It is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth.

2. Syrah

The South African Syrah that has taken the US by storm is the Chocolate Block that is gaining popularity due to its dark and spicy fruity flavor. When you taste Syrah, you will plunge in the flavorful punch which tapers off in the beginning and has a slightly peppery aftertaste. Syrah gets blended with the grapes that add more mid-palate in the front-loaded style. You can try it with Lamb Shawarma, Asian 5 spice pork, Gyros, and even Indian tandoori meats.

3. Pinotage

Pinotage is a South African grape variety that is a cross hybrid of Cinsault and Pinot Noir first performed by Abraham Perold in 1925. It is however different from both of them in taste. Pinotage has the flavor of juicy raspberries and blueberries with tobacco and spiced chocolate. The wines are dense and have high alcohol content. The wine has bramble, smoky and earthy flavor with notes of banana and tropical fruits. It is now Africa’s signature grape variety.

4. Merlot

Merlot derives its name from Merle which refers to a small bluebird in French. It is a close relative of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a dark blue color wine grape variety which South Africans love for the supple tannins, black cherry flavors, and chocolaty finish. The soft and fruity Merlots go well with the dishes like salmon, greens like chard and radicchios which are Mushroom based. It is the most popular red wine varieties available in the market.

5. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine that is light to medium and fruit forward. It gets prepared by the most famous grape. Pinot Noir is among the most elegant red wines in the world. In South Africa, the regions that grow the grapes to make Pinot Noir are Elgin and Walker Bay. Pinot Noir food pairing includes poultry and pork, chocolate, cheese and chocolate, bacon and beef, fish, lamb, fresh herbs and mushrooms.


Bugnay is a kind of sour berry that is ripest when it is at its blackest. Bugnay comes in clumps of some 30 or more berries in various degrees of ripeness, making a colourful bunch of light green, pink, red to black berries. It is also called bignay in Tagalog. It grows in the wild in mountainous regions.

Bugnay is dark plum coloured and very sweet. The red and lighter in colour fruits are rather bitter sweet.

My Lovely Wife who lived in Kalinga-Apayao Mountain Province part of the Ilocandia region of the Philippines, used to climb the Bugnay tree on the family farm and eat the berries when a young child, much to her mother’s consternation as the fruit can badly stain clothes!

The colorful bignay, Antidesma bunius Spreng., is called bignai in the Philippines (bugnay to Ilokanos) buni or berunai in Malaya wooni or hooni, in Indonesia ma mao luang in Thailand kho lien tu in Laos choi moi in Vietnam moi-kin and chunka by the aborigines in Queensland.

Bugnay or Bignay fruit from The Philippines

Adams is a municipality in the province of Ilocus Norte According to the latest census, it has a population of 1,522 people in 269 households.

The Adams region now cultivates the Bugnay fruit for its winemaking industry.

The bugnay wine has this quirky but pleasant taste and aroma which is likened to a grape wine hence preferred by consumers. It is reddish to purplish in color, resembling like any other red wines. Truly, elegance can now be as simple as having a supply of bugnay wine in the house. We thought the wine tasted a little like sherry, making it an excellent aperitif.

Bugnay contains naturally occurring colored pigments called flavonoids,

At home on our dinner table in London all the way from The Philippines! It was a great complement to a traditional Sunday roast dinner! (photo by Peter)

specifically anthocyanins. These anthocyanins are considered to play a beneficial role in visual acuity, heart diseases, cancer, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and bacterial infections.


Runner-up Best Overall: Decoy Premium Seltzer Sauvignon Blanc with Vibrant Lime

  • Region: California
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Tasting Notes: Zesty, Lime, Pithy grapefruit, Tropical fruit notes

Decoy is part of the Duckhorn portfolio of wines and the impetus for this canned spritzer began years ago when Duckhorn Portfolio CEO Alex Ryan mixed Decoy Sauvignon Blanc with sparkling water, ice, and fresh lime juice on a hot summer day. Ryan called it “The Ducky” and it became an instant favorite of friends, family, and Decoy winemaker Dana Epperson.

Fast-forward to today, and Epperson has now taken the reigns and crafted four unique seltzer flavors, including this wildly delicious sauvignon blanc with vibrant lime flavor. 80 calories, gluten-free, and with zero added sugar, this is an obvious choice pick for best-runner up of canned wines and our nod to the fact that canned wine seltzers are a serious commodity on the rise!


The 9 Best Red Blend Wines in 2021

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The super Tuscan. That richly expressive Port. That unnerving and must-have Champagne. These are all wines you love, and justifiably so, as they’re among the more popular categories.

But there's a secret technique—and art—that ties those aforementioned styles and regions together: blending. It's where red wine producers really have a chance to show their talents. The blending of different grape varieties is both a science and an art, but centuries of experimentation have yielded some iconic blends, such as syrah with grenache and merlot with cabernet sauvignon. The science is in testing grapes to see how they complement each other based on aromas and flavors that result from local climate and terroir. The art is in knowing when to push the boundaries of traditional blending science, expanding the limits of the great wine frontier to craft a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Winemakers couldn’t have made it to this point in the blending game without a lot of trial and error. You might be surprised to learn that most of that blending technique comes down to structural rather than flavorful components. Megan Baccitich, the winemaker for Judy Jordan’s new Geodesy Wine venture, worked for Paul Hobbs for a long time before joining Geodesy. Baccitich says that Hobbs taught her to “pick textures based on the [various vineyard] blocks for blending.”

Some vintners will even go so far as to plant new varieties in older vineyards in hopes of obtaining a better blend. Mark Lyon, the former longtime winemaker for Sebastiani Vineyards, explains that in 1994, in the winery’s iconic Cherryblock Vineyard, “we wanted to diversify and have blending options,” so they “planted Merlot next to the old blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon.”

The good news for you? All the hard work is done, including the choice of which red blend to seek out. Here’s a list of wines for the savvy red blend drinker available for trial—and free of error.


5 Refreshingly Cheap White Wines

Big red wines are comforting against winter's chill, but they just don’t work as well when summer’s heat starts taking hold. Reds' higher serving temperatures and often higher alcohol content and tannins can clash with summer’s lighter foods. This is where a good white wine comes in.

Here are five summer whites that are all easy to enjoy and pair well with the warm-weather dishes I love -- fresh produce, lighter grilled fishes and meats. They’re easy on the wallet, too! --Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth.com

South African Sauvignon Blancs offer a good balance between the lean, mineral styles popular in France and their more intensely fruity and chili-laced cousins. Sure, the winery name is complicated, but this wine has a pure, refreshing fruit flavor.

Suggested food pairings: lighter fish dishes (try it with sushi!), pasta and veggies, avocados

In summer, unoaked Chardonnays give buttery flavor without the richness that might be too heavy for hotter days. South America is becoming a great source of budget-friendly whites, and the unwooded Chardonnay from Chile’s Echeverria vineyards is no exception. The bottle bursts with a fine blend of crisp, subtle fruit tones.

Suggested food pairings: richer fish dishes, pork, fruity olive oils (drizzled over grilled meats and veggies)

This wine, one of my long-time favorite domestic whites, is on the lighter side and sports pineapple and passion fruit flavors. Its modest alcohol levels won’t leave you feeling dizzy in the summer heat either! Enjoy it on its own or as the start to a pitcher of white sangria.

Suggested food pairings: spicy grilled chicken or fish, curries

Riesling grapes produce a surprisingly broad range of wines, from bone-dry Trockens to decadently sweet Eiswein. The flavors in this Clean Slate version add just a touch of sweetness and accentuate the contrast between its light mineral tones and rich lime and peach fruits.

Suggested food pairings: spicy dishes (try it with your favorite Thai takeout), salsa, salads that combine fruits and chiles

I couldn’t imagine going a whole summer without a bubbly Prosecco! These are soft, easy wines meant for celebrating life, and the Col Vetoraz, with its drier floral style, is one of my favorites. Around my house, Prosecco is a standard brunch wine as well as a versatile cocktail-hour choice. Its relatively low alcohol content – usually around 11 percent – won’t dull the senses either.

Suggested food pairings: summer salads, heirloom tomatoes, brunch

Tannin – Bitter or astringent flavor from the grape skins, seeds and stems

Unwooded/Unoaked – Wine that is not fermented in a wooden (usually oak) barrel, which gives it a nutty flavor

Mineral - Earthy or smoky scents and flavors

Acidity - Tart, sometimes sour, flavor that varies in strength depending on the type of grape used


Lime Agua Fresca

Sometimes, you don’t need anything more than simple lime-infused water. Citrus and water pair perfectly together, and we’ve all seen hotel lobbies around the world offering up lemon water or lime water. But with the Ranch’s agua fresca, the flavors are enhanced and blended with mint to add an extra layer of complexity. This fresca also pairs well with sweeteners, transforming it into a homemade limeade!

1 gallon or 16 8 oz servings

Rancho La Puerta’s lime agua fresca

Ingredients

1 gallon of purified water

Garnish: mint sprigs or lime slices
***Naturally Sweet Rancho Lime Agua Fresca Option: Use a handful of fresh stevia sprigs to make stevia infused water, and add it to the 1-gallon drink dispenser. Directions are listed below. (you can also use a traditional simple syrup if desired.)

Preparation

Cut the mint leaves en chiffonade (in 1/16″ slices) and discard or compost the stems.

Add the mint leaves and the lime juice to a one-gallon drink dispenser.

For the Naturally Sweet variation, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add a handful of fresh stevia leaves to the water and boil for three more minutes. Take off the heat, and let the water cool. Discard or compost the stevia.

Add the stevia water to the dispenser.

For both variations, add ice and purified water to fill the drink dispenser to the top. Stir well. Serve in glasses filled with ice cubes and garnished with mint sprigs and/or lime slices.