With every passing day the diversity of wines on US shelves is increasing and that’s a boon for wine lovers. One country whose wine presence is growing is South Africa.Best known for Chenin Blanc and Pinotage there’s so much more that grows well there. 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.