Wine: explore South Africa's reds
Showing that there is more to South Africa than its signature red pinotage, a blind tasting of other red wines from the Cape mirrors South Africa's warm welcome of diversity and cultivars (grape varieties).
Shiraz is perhaps one of the more versatile black cultivars in South Africa, performing well in both hotter and cooler regions. Whereas, Pinot Noir particularly prefers the cooler coastal regions, with Elgin emerging as a champion of Pinot Noir and Riesling. Mention Cabernet Franc to most winemakers and their response is that they find it a most exciting grape to work with because of its promising potential for top quality.
Cabernet Sauvignon, the off-spring from a marriage between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, is the world's most planted grape variety and adds backbone, 'age-ability' and personality to a wine.
Here is a selection of the highest scoring wines under €20 blind-tasted. All would feel at home at a braai (a barbecue in South Africa).
1) Shiraz, Cinsaut, Mourvedre 2013, Cornelia, Swartland region 14pc
The savoury bouquet is contrasted by a juicy and fruity compote palate, supported by moderate tannins and with a tang of berries on the finish. Serve with Szechuan sizzling beef.
€14.99 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
2) Pinot Noir 2012, Iona Family, Elgin region 13.5pc
Delicious and silky smooth tannins with a refreshing cranberry acidity that complements the dark chocolate-covered, cherry flavours. Try with seared tuna or grilled salmon.
€19.99 at Redmond's, Ranelagh
3) Basket Press Shiraz 2012, The Bernard Series, Bellingham, Coastal Region 14pc
Rich and oaky with a pure blackberry character in a more restrained fruit style. Full-bodied and firm tannins demand an assertive red meat match - a peppered steak.
€19.99 at Next Door off licences and Londis, nationwide; No 21 off licences, Co Cork. In Dublin: Redmond's Ranelagh; Kelly's Wine Vault, Clontarf and Lord Mayor's off licence, Swords
4) Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2013, Raats Family, Stellenbosch region 13.5pc
Mineral aromas of the vineyard are echoed on the palate and are joined by firm, drying tannins and contrasting mouth-watering acidity from Franc's redcurrant fruit character. Partner with roast lamb and redcurrant jelly.
€16.99-€17.99 in Dublin at Red Island, Skerries and Donnybrook Fair
5) Shiraz 2013, Bellow's Rock, Coastal Region 14pc
Smoky bacon aromas. Full-bodied and savoury with a meaty sausage palate and a lip-smacking blackberry fruity finish. Enjoy with duck and a plum sauce.
€15.49 at O'Brien's nationwide
6) Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Cimarosa, Western Cape 14.5pc
Depth of blackberry fruity flavours, typical of both varieties with drying meat-friendly tannins. Go traditional with roast beef and all the trimmings.
€6.49 at Lidl nationwide