The tasting room at Boplaas Calitzdorp

There are as many ways to make a  wine blend as there are winemakers, especially when restrictions such as those in place for Bordeaux blends is removed.  The grapes used in Bordeaux blends are always combinations of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot in whatever proportions the winemaker thinks will fill his vision. All over the world great artists in this field, as well as dabblers, are intensively trying to make a difference, to make something that will stand out in a crowded field. Many of them succeed and many fall by the wayside.

In the category we are looking at today, wines may include the uniquely South African grape Pinotage, or Shiraz, which is excluded from Bordeaux blends, and anything else that tastes as if it will do the trick. Very much like an artist using the palette he has at hand, creating light and shade, that almost indefinable quality the Italians call chiaroscuro, the contrast between light and shade that makes a painting leap off the canvas, the winemaker sometimes presents us with something great. All of these blends use wood to a greater or lesser degree and should be served slightly cool especially in the fierce SA summers. Decanting helps to open up the flavours and most of them are perfect food partners, especially with red meat and game fish and fowl.

Here are some I think you will like. Prices are approximate –enjoy.

MIDDELVLEI MOMBERG 2017

A  full bodied seductive blend of Shiraz, Pinotage and Cab Sav, rich and complex, nice grip with delicious long finish. R360

MIDDELVLEI PINOTAGE MERLOT 2018

Guess what’s in this one almost equal portions? Lighter bodied than the Momberg but great to knock back at the braai. Soft and endearing. R95

ZANDVLIET MY BEST FRIEND RED NV

You have to be careful when you start calling your wine “my best friend,’ but this easy quaffer could easily become just that. Equal parts of Shiraz and Cab with a dash of Merlot to soften it. R62

RETIEF RESERVE CAPE BLEND 2018

Whenever the label says Cape Blend, the wine will have a Pinotage component as has this one, as well as Cab Sav and Shiraz. Delightfully complex, a serious wine without being too precious for its own good. Dark and delicious. R105

DE KRANS TWIST OF FATE 2017

An unusual blend of Tinta Barocca and Tinta Amarela from Calitzdorp, beguiling and delicious. Some sweet notes of strawberries and pink blossoms on the nose which lead to spicy earthiness in the mouth. Superb with grilled steak. R92

DE KRANS TRITONIA 2016

Much more complex than the other De Krans, using  Tintas Barocca and Roriz with Touriga Nacional, this would go down so well in Portugal and we are lucky to have it right here. Well used oaking supports plenty of deep dark red fruit. Great with ostrich. R230

 

 

BOPLAAS GAMKA RED 2015

With 91 points on Tim Atkins, and Double Gold from Michelangelo,  this blend of Touriga and Tinta Barocca from Calitzdorp with Shiraz from Stellenbosch, oak from the US and France—is very international. Gorgeously perfumed with so much flavour one is tempted to drink it alone, slightly cooled, like a Port. R220

STEENBERG CATHARINA 2016

The flagship red blend at this famous and venerable Constantia estate, named after the feisty first owner Catharina Ras, a legend in these parts. Intense red berry flavours from the Merlot supported by spicy undertones from the Syrah, a perfect match beautifully oaked—a cracker of a wine. R295

 

 

 

BALANCE CAB MERLOT 2018

Easy going screwcap quaffer, nevertheless delivers a wine that is perfect for everyday fun. Half of it is Cabernet and the other Merlot, each contributing its own special attributes and a good example of what the people at Balance are trying to do. Think pizza and burgers.R52

GRANDE PROVENCE RED 2015

Four and a half stars in Platter, Silver at Michelangelo, this flagship blend at one of Franschhoek’ s “must go to” destinations  delivers maximum flavour with a gorgeous nose to entice. Hand harvested Merlot, Cab Sav and Malbec , a classic combination. R590

ICONOCLAST CAPE BLEND

This once off Delheim treasure has been made to honour the memory of one of SA’s most iconic winemakers, Spatz Sperling. A gorgeous blend of only the best from this iconic Stellenbosch farm, the wine taps into the energy which was Spatz, who eschewed conventional wisdom and always went for something different—a high mark. Shiraz driven, which was his favourite varietal, it is finished off with Cab Sav, Petit Verdot and Pinotage, making it unique. Totally delicious. 94 points from Tim Atkins. R1000.

 

WINDFALL  BARREL 41 2019

From Agterkliphoogte Valley in Robertson—who can resist a name like that?—comes this great blend of Shiraz , Mourvedre and Grenache—smoky and interesting, deeply delicious with notes of chocolate underpinning all that fruit. R172

RHINO RUN IAN PLAYER NV

60% Cab Sav and 40% Merlot, typical Bordeaux style blend with 8 months French oak staves leads to elegant Christmas cake full bodied complexity. Named after the international conservationist. R75