Wine: King of the Cape
In South Africa, Cabernet Sauvignon is the uncrowned king of the Cape. It is a grape varietal/cultivar that thrives in the Western Cape's warm, balmy and Mediterranean-like climate and sub-regions. Most notably in Stellenbosch, widely regarded as the Cape's capital of wine. Stellenbosch University's programme for the vine and wine breeds pioneering talent annually.
The wines here have a masculine power and age-worthiness in the vein of Bordeaux's Pauillac, while Robertson celebrates a purity of fruit and freshness.
1) Rubicon 2010, Meerlust, Stellenbosch, 14.5pc
An icon. Intense baked black fruits infused with nutmeg. The firm tannins will support the wine maturing for 10 to 15 years. Serve with venison steaks braised on sliced fennel.
€39.95 in Dublin at Blackrock Cellar; The Corkscrew; Deveney's; Donnybrook Fair; Fresh; Redmond's; Whelehan Wines; 64 Wines; The Vintry; Martin's and Sweeney's; World Wide Wines, Waterford; Egan's, Portlaoise; Mac Guinness, Dundalk; and O'Brien's nationwide.
2) Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 2012, Simonsig, Western Cape, 14pc
Instant gratification - seductive and delicious black berries dipped in dark chocolate, spiked with peppery spice and echoing with a long cocoa finish. Fruity enough to cheese-match a salty Cashel Blue.
€10.99 in Dublin at Gerry's Supermarket, Skerries; Hole in the Wall, Blackhorse Avenue; and Morton's, Ranelagh.
3) Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Major's Hill Estate, Robertson, 15pc
A palate of powerful black fruits with nutmeg attacks on entry and masks the potent alcohol while the spicy finish lingers. Loves lamb slicked with a smoky barbecue sauce.
€18.95, MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk; searsons.com and Searson's, Monkstown.
4) Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Excelsior, Robertson, 14.5pc
Assertive tarry and juicy blackcurrant fruits. Full-bodied and black pastille with a leather finish. Decant to release the full character. Pair with duck in a hoisin sauce.
€15.99 at Fresh (Grand Canal Square, Smithfield, Camden Street & IFSC); Bradley's, Cork; Egan's Food & Wine, Dundalk; and Red Island Wine, Swords.
5) Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Neil Ellis, Stellenbosch, 14pc
Intense and deep flavours of blackberry, oaky spice and juicy acidity underpinned by firm but friendly tannins. Decant to enhance its personality. Matches well with a red-hot Madras beef curry.
€23.95 in Dublin at Clontarf Wines; searsons.com and Searson's, Monkstown.
6) Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Rustenberg, Stellenbosch, 14pc
A friendly ambush of bramble berries with firm and drying tannins. Classy and Claret-like and a moody, brooding finish that's still evolving. A classic match with roast beef.
€16 in Donegal at The Counter, Letterkenny; Dicey Reilly's, Ballyshannon and jnwine.com
Jameson Black Barrel Irish Whiskey 40pc
Boasting new packaging, the double charring of a Bourbon barrel influences a very mellow bouquet of smoke and vanilla in this whiskey. Caramel-rich in texture and vanilla fudge infused with a peppery spice, masking the spirit's heat.
€47.19 at SuperValu, and selected supermarkets and off-licences nationwide.