10 Best Red Wines for Winter

Winter is coming. If you want to fight off the cold, here are ten of the best red wines from South Africa’s top wine estates.

Allée Bleue Pinotage 2014
Situated in the breath-taking Franschhoek Valley, Allée Bleue Wine Estate has built a solid reputation for world-class wines by keeping a steadfast focus on quality through the years. Much of the estate’s local and international accolades are attributed to the work of Winemaker Van Zyl Du Toit.

The Allée Bleue Pinotage 2014, a wood-matured dry red wine from the Platinum range, is ideal with dishes such as springbok loin beef wellington served with a berry jus and glazed vegetables. Du Toit describes the palate as “rich, soft, and very elegant”, adding that the wine will age well over the next three to five years. www.alleebleue.co.za.

Avondale Samsara 2009
Crafted from thirteen unique parcels of vineyard, the release of Avondale Estate’s Samsara 2009 marks yet another milestone on the remarkable bio-dynamic journey of this family-owned property in Paarl. The name Samsara, meaning ‘to flow on’ in Sanskrit, relates to the Buddhist concepts of reincarnation and rebirth, and is a perfect illustration of the cycles of renewal and revitalization integral to proprietor Johnathan Grieve’s pioneering BioLOGIC® approach to viticulture and wine making.

Avondale’s FABER restaurant has a three-course winter set menu for lunch from Wednesdays to Sundays at R250 per person. There is also a Spring Feast on 17 September and Summer Feast on 26 November. The cost is R550 per person, including the guided farm tour, three-course meal, three glasses of wine, spring water from the farm, and restaurant gratuity. www.avondalewine.co.za.

Baleia Wines Erhard Pinot Noir 2014
In the recently established wine region near the country town of Vermaaklikheid along the Cape South Coast, the Joubert family has established themselves as pioneering wine producers with their unique range of Baleia Wines and Olive Oil. Their premium flagship wine, the 2014 Erhard Pinot Noir, symbolises the Joubert family’s close ties and values (the wine is named after Erhard, who is the son of the owners Jan-Hendrik and Lindi Joubert).

The wine is ideal with cold meats, roasted chicken, pork, and venison. And speaking of good food, La Bella Restaurant & Deli offers delicious homemade meals and freshly baked products in a child-friendly environment suitable for a quick leg stretch or long lazy lunch while travelling along the beautiful Garden Route. www.baleiawines.com.

Grand Provence Zinfandel 2015
With a hot-blooded temperament akin to the vineyards of southern Italy, the Grande Provence Zinfandel 2015 is one of the first wines to step out in a fresh new look with muted colour tones that reflect the estate’s heritage and quality. Known as Primitivo in the “heel” of Italy but made fashionable as Zinfandel in California, this black-skinned grape variety thrives in warmer climates.

This big wine stands up well to hearty casseroles and game dishes. It also goes down beautifully with liquor-filled dark chocolate truffles. Better yet, a new addition to The Tasting Room at Grande Provence means fresh oysters served daily from the live oyster tank for the ultimate indulgence with your choice of Grande Provence white wines. Meanwhile, an artisanal charcuterie board is the perfect accompaniment for the elegant range of reds. www.grandeprovence.co.za.

Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Reserve 2014
Always integral to Haute Cabrière has been its singular wine growing philosophy: Sun-Soil-Vine-Man. The phrase represents cellar master Takuan von Armin’s conviction that a wine is grown rather than made, and thus the ultimate expression of terroir: a fusion of the sun’s potent energy, the roots and minerals of the soil, and the nature of the vine, all of which are brought together by man.

The Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Reserve 2014 is best served slightly chilled (at about 16°C) and pairs perfectly with lamb, duck, rare beef, and fresh tuna. You can also have it as part of the winter special (lunch and dinner until the end of September) with a 300g beef steak, fine beans, and hand cut chips for R175 per person (or R220 if you want to end with crème brûlée for dessert). www.cabriere.co.za.

Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Cinsault 2016
Kleine Zalze has been making wine since 1695 and this family-owned winery, situated outside Stellenbosch, continues the tradition of producing wines of outstanding quality today. Harvested from old dry vineyards in the Paardeberg and Darling regions, the Cellar Selection Cinsault 2016 is described by cellar master Alastair Rimmer as an elegant wine with an exceptional depth of flavour.

There’s even more to savour at Terroir, the award-winning restaurant that has welcomed the arrival of winter with a special menu. From now until the end of September, guests can enjoy their choice of two dishes (starter/main or main/dessert) from the French-inspired chalkboard menu for just R295 per person (including a glass of Kleine Zalze wine). There’s also a new four-course tasting menu priced at R395 (or R495 including a generous wine pairing). www.kleinezalze.co.za.

Neethlingshof Owl Post Pinotage 2015
The Neethlingshof Short Story Collection, a portfolio of reserve wines, celebrates both the history and conservation successes of the historic estate. It was born with the Owl Post Pinotage, bringing the biodiversity and history of the estate into the wines. (The owl posts, erected to attract these nocturnal predators into the vineyards, are just one example of Neethlinghof’s holistic and sustainable approach to viticulture.)

This wine, which won the Abraham Perold Trophy for Pinotage at last year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition, is excellent with red meat dishes and game, especially hearty stews and casseroles. It will also go down well with the weekly Winter Wednesday evenings (until 27 September), where you can indulge in a delicious selection of snacks, enjoy live music, and make the most of the cosy winter nights. www.neethlingshof.co.za.

Plaisir de Merle Petit Plaisir 2014
Situated at the epicentre of one of the Cape’s premier wine regions, Plaisir de Merle is renowned as a producer of exceptional wines. The Petit Plaisir 2014 is a Shiraz-driven blend with the balance comprising Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Roobernet.

Plaisir de Merle’s wines are singular in their consistency and showcase a true love and respect for classic and lasting winemaking. Petit Plaisir 2014 is a wine for any occasion; it is best enjoyed with a variety of meat and pasta dishes. You can also enjoy it at the four-course “Winemaker’s Table” dinners, which take place at the historic Manor House on Saturday 12 August and Saturday 14 October. www.plaisirdemerle.co.za.

Steenberg Nebbiolo 2014
Crafted predominantly from an older Nebbiolo vineyard planted in 1994 with a small portion of grapes from a younger block, the latest vintage from Steenberg is an elegant rendition of this classic Italian variety. Executive Chef Archie MacLean of Catharina’s Restaurant recommends the Nebbiolo as the perfect foil for parmesan gratinated sirloin with a smattering of Italian artichoke, basil pesto, and pickled aubergine.

Catharina’s Restaurant has a two-course winter lunch special for only R165 (or a three-course meal for R195). Bistro Sixteen82, Steenberg’s trendy cellar door restaurant, also offers cosy winter value with a special tapas menu selection that is an ideal early dinner after work. www.steenbergfarm.com.

TOKARA Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Almost two decades after the first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted high on the Simonsberg slopes of TOKARA, the estate expanded its acclaimed Reserve Collection with the long-awaited release of the TOKARA Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. (The Reserve Collection is dedicated to showcasing the unique terroir of TOKARA’s vineyards and specifically the varietal character expressed from these vineyards.)

The TOKARA Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon offers a superb glimpse of how the estate’s unique terroir balances Old World elegance and New World expression in Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy this wine with veal osso buco, grilled red meat, or an oxtail stew. www.tokara.co.za.