Vine Time | Celebrate diversity with winning wines
Heritage, culture, traditions: they all mean different things to different people, and that’s partly the point of Heritage Day – celebrating the diversity that makes us a fascinating, complex and uniquely South African nation.
Something that most South Africans can unite in agreement on is the shared enjoyment of gathering around a fire to cook meat, tell stories and just generally have a good time.
South African wine, bound up in the history and heritage of our country, has many a story to tell too, so whether you’re celebrating heritage around a braai or shisa nyama, a bredie, biryani or colonial beef Wellington, there’s a wine to go with it.
Talking heritage, the obvious choice is our home-grown cultivar, Pinotage (“a hybrid wine for a hybrid nation” says wine wizard Michael Fridjhon) or a Cape blend, defined as a blend with 30-70% Pinotage. With its bold juicy fruit and some rustic smokiness, Pinotage is a great partner to just about anything meaty and boldly flavoured on the braai.Check out Lanzerac Pinotage for a piece of SA wine heritage – the first-ever Pinotage released (in 1961) was under the Lanzerac label, although the wine itself was from Bellevue, and today offers a great meat partner with dark juicy fruit and a touch of meaty spiciness (around R145).
Pinotage also features in the pocket-friendly (around R45) wines of Polkadraai, a good crowd-pleasing choice – the Pinotage/Merlot loaded with soft, juicy fruit that works well with braaied meat, and the white blend of Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc balances ripe fruit with crispy zestiness, probably a good one for braaied snoek.
Chardonnay, particularly unwooded or lightly wooded, is another good choice with braaied fish or chicken, playing nicely with citrusy flavours and herbs or lightly-spiced marinades (think more sweetish, fragrant spices rather than mind-blowing chilli).
Its short heritage in South Africa owes much to the authority-defying “vine smugglers” of the early 1980s, like Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof, where they’ve just released a stylish and sumptous 2015 wooded Chardonnay (about R200) and the “playful” unwooded 2017 (about R100), satiny-smooth, light and fresh, perfect for a braai.A quick poll of some wine-loving pals revealed some interesting recommendations – an all-round braai winner is the Flagstone Dragon Tree (around R80), a blend of mostly Pinotage and Shiraz, with wild berry flavours and a burst of juicy fruit on the finish.
Shiraz in general is also a great braai partner, with its full body, deep fruit and spiciness that stands up particularly well to the intense gaminess of venison on the braai, while lighter game meats such as guinea fowl, ostrich or goose would pair well with the delicate fruit and earthy undertones of Pinot Noir.Raising a glass to the many facets of South African wine and people!