It’s no surprise that as soon as there’s a slight chill in the air and the winter woolies come on, we find ourselves hurrying past the refrigerated wine aisle and reaching for vino more suitable for fireside sipping. We swear we can almost hear a sigh of relief from the bottles of rosé and fresh whites chilling in our fridges, knowing they’re safe until next Summer!
This past Saturday we were invited to get our winter wine game on at House of Winter Wines – an annual, almost-always sold-out event organised by the wine-loving teams at Bloom PR and Quicket. The reason we like this event so much is threefold: the venue, 6 Spin Street in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD is gorgeous; the event is just the right size with 10 wine farms representing (important as some wine events with too many wines can get a little overwhelming), and the selection of wine producers is so on point that it makes discovering gems as easy as pie.
Below, we’ve put together a selection of our highlights that we would recommend trying this Winter. From contemplative reds to rich whites and even sparkling (yes!), these should get you on your way:
- Avondale Samsara Syrah
We’ve been a bit obsessed with Avondale recently since discovering their Cyclus white blend which is off-the-charts good. ‘Soft’ is the first word that springs to mind when tasting the 2009 Samsara Syrah, which reflects Avondale’s natural, gentle winemaking. If you think that you don’t like Syrah because it’s too bold or spicy, this wine might surprise you.
2. Babylonstoren Babel
Sometimes all you need is a good old fashioned Bordeaux blend – well, maybe minus the ‘old fashioned’ part. This is a blend of all 5 of the most well-known Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot) – with some Shiraz too, because why the heck not. There’s a lot in there, but it works. If you’re looking for something flavourful and weighty to pair with heavier winter dishes, this is your wine.
3. Ondine Malbec
Malbec is such a fantastic wine for cooler seasons, given its plush texture and velvety tannins. We really enjoyed this example from Ondine which is also our value-for-money recommendation of the lot.
4. Bellingham The Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah
This Bellingham beaut is a familiar face to us, having quaffed some quite recently. Voted as one of the top 10 Syrahs from South Africa on Vivino (i.e., by all of us!) it’s a solid choice – with all the subtle spice and dark fruit you would expect to get a whiff of.
And then of course, as we said in an earlier post… Winter isn’t just about the reds. If you can find a white that has enough weight or what we refer to as mouthfeel – i.e., how rich and heavy the wine feels in your mouth, it can go down superbly in chilly weather (also if you’re a fellow South African, let’s face it, we can get some pretty nice days slap bang the middle of Winter).
5. Waterkloof Circle of Life White Blend
We’ve been fans of Waterkloof for quite some time. As wine geeks, we’re really into the quirky organic and biodynamic stuff they get up to in the vineyard (see this post to get the low-down on the craziness that is biodynamic winemaking). The Circle of Life blend, being made in large oak barrels with perfectly ripe fruit, has enough weight and richness to go down swimmingly at any time of the year.
6. Oneiric Wooded Chardonnay
Oneiric was our new discovery of the day – having never heard of them before, we were delighted by their fully wooded Chardonnay. With all that oak, this wine has all that vanilla richness you would expect yet balanced with fresh acidity (the grapes do come from cool-climate Elgin, after all!).
7. Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blanc
The Avondale Armilla Blanc de Blanc is a 100% Chardonnay MCC that has spent seven – yes seven! – years on the lees (essentially the wine in contact with the dead yeast cells from the MCC process. Sounds gross but really, it’s not – it’s what can give sparkling wine a delicious bready, biscuity aroma). Lees also contribute to a creamy mouthfeel – which is exactly what’s going on with this scrumptious sparkling. Might be a stretch for some in Winter but think about it – most Champagne gets drunk over New Years and Christmas in the Northern hemisphere!
8. Groot Constantia Cape Ruby
Cape Ruby is South Africa’s answer to Port (it’s essentially the same stuff but we can’t call it Port as we aren’t in Portugal). Groot Constantia’s version is, for us, a perfect winter wine. In fact, we couldn’t imagine drinking it at any other time of the year. Sweet, rich, smooth and on the alcoholic side – this is a top class fireside sipper for sure.
Thanks House of Winter wines for the good wines and good times – see you next year!