Bold, interesting wines to banish winter chill

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: The pretty Elgin Railway Station on the historic Glen Elgin Farm where Winters Drift wines are grown and made, houses the estate's tasting room and Platform 1 Eatery
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: The pretty Elgin Railway Station on the historic Glen Elgin Farm where Winters Drift wines are grown and made, houses the estate’s tasting room and Platform 1 Eatery

SOME interesting wines from off-the-beaten-track estates have happily landed on the Vine Time doorstep over the past few weeks.

Pinot noir is growing in popularity and taking up more space on bottle store shelves, and it’s a magic wine for autumn, with savoury, truffle and forest-floor notes alongside the freshness of red berries. Lighter in colour than other red wines, it’s no less complex for that, and is great served lightly chilled. Food-wise, it can take fairly intense flavours – think smoked meats, coq au vin, lamb stew or ostrich fillet, pasta or risotto with porcini mushrooms.

From Winters Drift in cool-climate Elgin, the 2013 pinot noir is an appealing wine – fresh, fruity and soft with typical pinot noir structure and flavours.

It’s a good example of what pinot noir should be and reasonably priced for a good pinot noir, at about R120.

Foundation Stone 2012, a Rhone-style red blend from Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek, is quite a different animal.

Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Tannat and Viognier make up the blend, and the estate has now added a rosé and a white blend to the range. The six varietals were separately barrel-matured over 18 months and then blended for bottling, delivering layered complexity and rich flavours. It’s a soft, smooth red full of red fruit and hints of chocolate and spice.

Good food combinations would include full-flavoured meats like ostrich and venison in peppery sauces, or rich duck with black cherries.

For the intense Mediterranean-style white blend, Rickety Bridge sought out “interesting pockets” of varieties such as Ugni Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc to team with their own chenin blanc.

The result is an elegant, well-balanced bouquet of peaches and stone fruit, some spice and nuttiness – not your average easy-drinking white and definitely worth a try with meats like pork or chicken in lightly-spiced or Asian-style dishes.

These retail at about R85. The red made it to the 2014 Top 100 SA wines list, as did the three-way Portuguese-style blend Tritonia from De Krans in Calitzdorp. In what De Krans is calling a “Calitzdorp blend”, Tritonia blends three traditional port cultivars – Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca and Tinta Roriz – and is named for the colourful plant found all over the Karoo.

Tritonia (about R150) is a deep, inky red filled with violets, cloves, woody-spiciness and savoury flavours. It’s a bold but elegant wine for hearty winter meals, definitely involving game or ostrich, and would be great with strong “umami” or savoury flavours. – A Vine Time, with Samantha  Venter


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