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The ABC of Wine - Part 2

Red Wine

In Part 2 of the ABC of Wine Series, Cape Wine Master Marilyn Cooper looks at red wine, discussing the unusual red cultivars that grow in South Africa.

In the last article we covered some of the unusual white cultivars, and in this one we will cover some of the unusual red cultivars grown in South Africa.

There are many indigenous varieties grown in Italy, Greece, Hungary etc, such as Labrusca, Kadarka, Agiorgitiko, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, to name a few, but few have been planted in South Africa.

Click here to read part 1 - 'Chardonnay - The Winemaker's dream grape'

The first of the unusuals to reach our shores came from France, imported mainly to make up a Bordeaux blend - Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

While mostly used in a blend, there are a few single varietal wines made that show real character - Oldenburg and Nelson Cabernet Franc; Neil Ellis and Blaauwklippen Malbec, to name a few.

Cabernet Franc on its own is deep in colour, with herbaceous, herby overtones. Full on the palate, this is not an easy drinking wine. Matches red meat dishes perfectly.

Malbec on the other hand can be made in an easier-to-drink style, and recently I experienced some wonderful
pork dishes (from fillet to loin and belly) paired with both the Neethlingshof and Plaisir de Merle Malbec, and they both cut through the fat of the pork and added richness to the drier cuts.

Then there are the French Rhône varieties - Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Grenache. From 80 hectares of Shiraz grown previously this has increased to it being one of the most planted varieties in South Africa.

These cultivars are often combined to make a Rhône-style blend, such as SMV (Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier) like Bellingham and Quoin Rock The Centaur.

The wines have the earthiness of the Shiraz, but richness of Mourvèdre and perfume of the white Viognier. A must with game dishes!

Chardonnay   The Italians are experts at matching wine and food. No meal would be complete without a glass of wine, and even the children begin consuming wine diluted with water at a young age.

Their noble cultivars - Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo - make five-star wines and softer easier wines for every day consumption.

Only recently planted in South Africa, our Sangiovese is light in style, with great black fruit character, obviously perfect with Italian dishes such as pasta or pizza, while Nebbiolo (meaning fog) is drier in style, usually consumed with hearty winter dishes, such as rich casseroles.

Idiom (owned by the Italian Bottega family) make most of these unusual varieties as single cultivars - try their Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and SMV.

Raka, located in Stanford, also make a wide range from Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot and the Figurehead containing all five Bordeaux varieties.
ROAR. Not for sale to persons under the age of 18. Drink Responsibly. © Copyright 2015 Soweto Wine Festival