Our favourite red wines for the last few rainy weekends | 9Lives
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We’ve had such a good rainy season in the Cape, that we decided to celebrate the last few weekends of the rainy season with some of our favourite red wines in front of the fire. We had each team member raid their wine stash for special bottles from the lesser-known wine estates in an attempt to give some much-needed exposure to the smaller farms during the lockdown in a continued effort to support local. Join us as we taste Grenache, different blends and even a Spanish Nebbiolo from the Karoo.

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Hoendertande Grenache

Caré

De Kleine Wijn Koöp – Hoendertande Grenache 2019

Growing up in the winelands in a family whose passion for wine stretches far and wide, it’s safe to say that I was raised to become somewhat of a wine enthusiast. I remember long evenings by the fireplace discussing anything from wine cultivars to label designs with my father, and it was on one of these occasions that he told me something that will stick with me forever: It’s completely fine if someone calls you a wine snob, in fact, it’s a compliment.

And to this day, I really do appreciate a good wine. So imagine my delight when a colleague introduced me to the De Kleine Wijn Koöp Hoendertande Grenache. Grenache is a cultivar I only recently began to explore, and I fell in love.

The Hoendertande Grenache comes from the Piekenierskloof appellation and is the very first straight Grenache Noir hailing from the Franschhoek region. It’s for this very reason this wine was name Hoendertande. For those of you who don’t understand the Afrikaans saying “dis so skaars soos hoendertande” – it’s used to describe something that is extremely sought-after or treasured, translating to as scarce as hens’ teeth. This is why I’m not surprised (but at the same time very disappointed) when I found out that they only produced one barrel (700 bottles) of this delicious wine.

When opening the bottle, you get a subtle earthy note on the nose together with red cherry and a faint hint of strawberry. The wine also boasts pure fruit, fresh acidity and very fine tannins. Overall, it’s a light-bodied wine with a beautiful, bright colour.

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The Drift – Moveable Feast Estate Blend

I only very recently acquired a taste for red wine and I’ve realised that this is most likely due to the poor choice in selections I have made. The world of red wine is intimidating and intriguing, and while I’m still not entirely sure how to pick up on specific tasting notes, The Drift’s Moveable Feast Estate Blend made a great impression.

As one review on Vivino stated: “No beginning and no end. A helluva lot going on in the middle. Very intriguing and likeable. But doesn’t have a sense of place or purpose.” If that doesn’t fit this blend, and my personality, to a tee, then I don’t know what will!

This blend is complex, smoky, but overall very smooth and pairs well with just about anything. Grapes used in this blend are grown on the Overberg Highland’s farm, 340 – 550 m above sea level. Because the vineyards face in different directions, with rows also planted in different directions and slopes, the complexity of its origin resonates well in the complexity of the blend. Tasting notes include: “Drift farm ripe, black berry fruit and herbaciousness, with white pepper and a touch of cigar box.” It is especially the description of an under-layer of enticing dark chocolate and darker black fruits like mulberry, which stood out to me since my limited experience with viticulture could actually confirm this!

Despite the ambivalent review mentioned above, I do believe this wine is multifaceted and delicious because of it. Try it if you’re interested in an explosion of dark berry flavours, underlied with some sweet spices and herbs, chocolate, mocha, and perhaps coffee? (trying hard here) If that combination doesn’t remind you of a cold winter in the Cape, then you have more to learn than I do, my friend.

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Jordan Chameleon Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot

Oh, how I love a good red wine blend! Especially with the rain pouring down on gloomy days spent cooped up in my small living room in Stellenbosch.

A bottle of Jordan Chameleon Chameleon Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot was opened on one of these rainy days in front of a cosy fireplace with my colleagues. This wine is smokey on the nose. The same oak that I came to adore since I called the Western Cape my home.

So what does this particular vintage taste like? It’s very bold, dry and tannic. I really enjoy a very dry red wine, and this is a great vintage, because of its overall full taste.

As I take another sip the familiar blackcurrant and plum from a Merlot comes out strong with the aftertaste of oak and vanilla leaving you wanting more. I really appreciated the elegant, complex flavours and texture.

I would recommend this wine to anyone that is in need of a pleasant surprise. The balance was unexpected but in a good way. And if you are a regular wine drinker like myself, the no sulphur added will be an extra bonus, since you can say goodbye to the screeching headaches in the morning.

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Mount Sutherland Nebbiolo 2014

There’s nothing quite like sharing a bottle of interesting wine… This bottle I bought at my absolute favourite wine shop – The Vineyard Connection in Stellenbosch – where the sales lady explained the Sutherland terroir. It is the highest vineyard in South Africa, an impressive 1 500m above sea level, and the vineyards were established in 2007 on virgin soils.

The grapes are hand-sorted and fermented in low temperatures, whereafter it is aged in French oak barrels for 14 months, resulting in a total of 400 bottles produced.

If you’ve never heard about the Nebbiolo grapes, you are not alone. These North Italian grapes, that traditionally produce big and bold red wines, is usually an ingredient of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco blends (two of the world’s most expensive blends).

The Mount Sutherland Nebbiolo 2014 is light of colour, almost like a pinot noir, with a mushroom, truffle to the nose. Although a Nebbiolo can have harder tannins coming through, this wine has fine tannins with a smooth finish. It is velvety with rich fruity flavours and earthy undertones. A special and unique wine, definitely worth investing in.

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Mimosa Shiraz 2018

My favoritism for the Mimosa Shiraz 2018, as with an array of my other favorite wines (including Kanonkop’s Cape Blend and Montpellier’s Spyseniersberg), stems from the experience that I connotate to the flavour. You could say that I enjoy my wine paired with an experience. In this case I associate it with sunsets in the small Karoo-bordering town of Montague where the wine finds its origin at the Mimosa Lodge.

In addition to the experience that I associate with the Mimosa Shiraz it is also the smooth yet smoky tones that enchant me. The Mimosa Shiraz is my red wine of choice. It is an exceptionally smooth wine with smoky notes of cigar box infused with coffee and a hint of spice with prominent fruity undertones. It has a structured palate and is perfect for someone who prefers an easy red wine.

The Mimosa wine collection brings together a wide range of intricate flavours to create a beautifully handcrafted wine. To find this rare gem of a wine you might have to travel to its place of origin. Whether you choose to pursue the wine by taking the Cogmans Kloof Pass or whether you order it online, the experience of the Mimosa Shiraz with its elegante matt black and gold label will prove to be pleasant.

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Montpellier Spysenierberg “Blue Label” 2015

A wine tasting can often be likened to inviting your high school classmates over for a party: You know what you are expecting but what you get is usually very different. I have experienced this in a good and a bad way in the past: Your A-grade students more often than we would like to accept, behave very poorly when unsupervised. In the same way, many of the top wine cellars struggle to keep their quality and consistency on the standard they are selling.

Fortunately, this round of wines were all well-behaved and could comfortably boast their flying colours.

The wine I was given to review, Montpellier’s Spyseniersberg 2015, started on a good foot by sporting a stunning label that speaks directly to the heritage and legacy of the farm. I am a huge believer in making your label authentic and honest.

Reading a bit about the farms history from their website supports this view:

“Montpellier was established in 1714 by Jean Imbert and Jacques Theron, Huguenot refugees who reached Table Bay in 1688. Prior to fleeing to Tulbagh, both men resided in the south of France, close to the historic city of Montpellier.”

In the bottle, I was greeted by a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Shiraz (31%), Merlot (15%), and Petit Verdot (14%). This almost GSM, almost Bordeaux does not come up short in any way, and as with any good blend, it is definitely more than the sum of its parts. Each veritals’ strengths are given space to shine, but none too strongly. This is a full bodied red wine with expected red fruit and plum flavours. The wood, 12 months on French Oak, gives it nice depth but does not overpower the wine.

A bottle of Spyseniersberg will cost you R110 at the cellar, so it is also well priced for the quality and energy that goes into the making. In future, this is a wine I will look out for when in the bottle store and gladly present to my old friends and new.

In need of some more red wine inspo? Try this!

Author

Free State-girl, living in Stellenbosch. Love to explore small towns, read in Afrikaans and everything pop-culture. My favourite yoga move is 'The Pigeon' and one day I'd like to own my own vintage cinema.

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