Nip and tuck freshens up fabulous old family friend

FULL-BODIED: The Delheim Shiraz is great with hearty meat dishes
FULL-BODIED: The Delheim Shiraz is great with hearty meat dishes

DELHEIM is like an old family friend – you can’t remember where or when you first met them, but it was donkey’s years ago and they might as well be one of the family by now.

They’re there for every milestone occasion, and you know you can always rely on them for celebrations, commiserations, or a last-minute lift to Cape Town.

And, as old friends do, they sometimes quietly have a new hairdo to freshen their look or a nip ‘n tuck to address the ravages of time. A small change, hardly noticeable in itself, that prompts you to say “wow, you’re looking good. Is that a new outfit?”

The new look Delheim labels are a bit like that – they seem somehow fresher and cleaner, but you need to compare them to an old one to see the difference.

The label may have been given a facelift, but the two new releases sporting the re-styled labels – the 2013 chardonnay and 2012 shiraz – show that the stalwart Sperling family of Stellenbosch are still delivering the great quality that wine drinkers have relied on for decades.

The Shiraz is a really great example of the varietal with its deep red hue and leathery, smokey nose with ripe plums and black cherries.

It’s a smooth, rounded red, full-bodied with the typical but subtle spiciness of Shiraz. The tannins are soft and smooth so it’s very drinkable now, and it can only develop more layered flavour and complexity with a bit of ageing.

Shiraz is always a happy partner to hearty red meat dishes, and winemaker Reg Holder reckons this one would be particularly good with Moroccan-style lamb, a spicy slow-braaied lamb rib or a grilled venison fillet.

The Chardonnay is unwooded, so no characteristic butteriness here, but it’s a crisp and intense wine with hints of pear, lime and citrus. Creamy tones are balanced by the zingy lime, and it’s a lovely food wine – the food needed in fact to take the edge off the acidity.

The winemaker’s menu suggestions include snoek fishcakes with grilled sweet potato wedges, steamed crayfish, chicken salad with mango and macadamia nuts, or a creamy exotic mushroom pasta. The recommended retail price for the shiraz is R103 and R77 for the chardonnay. – A Vine Time, with Samantha Venter


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