Raise the bar: All hail the king!

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Raise the bar: All hail the king!

Cabernet Sauvignon is so widely grown and so popular that it’s commonly known as “King Cab”. Give yourself the royal treatment this month with seven of Allan Mullins’ favourite bottles.

Do flavours of blackcurrant, cassis, black cherry and pomegranate tempt you? How about chocolate, mocha, liquorice, mint, violets and black pepper? These are just some of the tastes you’ll find in a glass of Cab and, as it takes well to oak maturation, you can also expect vanilla, cigar box, cedar, spice and toastiness. Now that you’re hooked, you’re not alone.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a leading player in Bordeaux, where it is blended with one or more of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, while in California single-varietal cult wines such as Screaming Eagle can fetch as much as $1 000 per bottle.

It’s also big in Australia where it’s often blended with Shiraz, as well as in Spain where blends with Tempranillo are known as Super Tuscans. Back home, Stellenbosch lays claim to being the home of South African Cabernet.

1. WOOLWORTHS WELTEVREDE LONGMARKET CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2016, R59.95

This wine is produced by the Jonker family of Weltevrede in Bonnievale, who also made The Manuscript dessert wine, presented to Nelson Mandela on his 94th birthday. (On a visit to Robben Island, the Jonkers discovered shrivelled vines in the prison garden where Mandela had buried the handwritten manuscript of Long Walk to Freedom. They resuscitated the vines to produce The Manuscript.)

The X-factor: The Weltevrede Longmarket Cabernet Sauvignon is an extroverted wine great to share. Open a few bottles for long kuier sessions.

Match it with: Braaied chops and boerewors. Try spicy lamb chops with lemony greens recipe here.

2. WOOLWORTHS DIEMERSFONTEIN BLACKBERRY CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015, R89.95

Red wine specialist Diemersfontein in Wellington is owned by David Sonnenberg, whose grandfather Max and father Richard founded Woolworths in 1931.

The X-factor: If you like blackberry, this is it! For a South African wine to be certified as a single variety, it must contain at least 85% of the stated variety. Here, 10% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc have been blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Match it with: Oxtail potjie. Try the dad’s oxtail recipe here.

3. WOOLWORTHS GRANGEHURST CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, R149.95

Jeremy Walker’s one-man winery on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain started in 1992 when he famously turned an old squash court into a wine cellar. He has been making this wine for Woolies since 2003.

The X-factor: A special selection of 28 barrels from prime Stellenbosch vineyards produces this high-class Cabernet, which offers the chance to experience the complexity of a handsomely matured seven-year-old wine.

Match it with: Seared tuna with a black peppercorn sauce. Try the tuna bites with soya-and-sesame dressing recipe.

4. RUSTENBERG PETER BARLOW CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010, R429.95

This is a stellar Cabernet Sauvignon named after Peter Barlow, who bought Rustenberg in 1941 and set about turning it into the iconic Stellenbosch wine farm it is today.

The X-factor: A wine for long ageing. If you have a child born in 2010, you will confidently be able to open it to celebrate their 18th or 21st birthday.

Match it with: Roast leg of Karoo lamb. Try Karoo lamb with shallot, anchovy and pomegranate dressing recipe here.

5. WOOLWORTHS HARTENBERG ALCHEMY CABERNET SAUVIGNON-SHIRAZ 2014, R69.95

Hartenberg’s Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted by the Finlaysons in the late 1960s. Winemaker Carl Schultz believes no area outside Stellenbosch can emulate the concentration and quality of their Cabernets.

The X-factor: Cabernet Sauvignon from deep, dark red loam soil and yellow Table Mountain sandstone soil provides the backbone, while Shiraz from gravel-strewn vineyards provides ripe fruit flavours.

Match it with: Karoo lamb potjie. Try the grilled Karoo lamb chops with creamed potatoes, ratatouille vegetables, pea and mint puree and lamb jus recipe here.

6. WOOLWORTHS DELHEIM CABERNET SAUVIGNON- MERLOT 2015, R79.95

“Spatz” Sperling may have arrived at Delheim from Germany in 1951 with only £10 in his pocket, but he has turned this scenic property on the Simonsberg mountains into a thriving wine farm.

The X-factor: Winemaker Reg Holder makes full use of the properties of four of the five Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) to blend a wine that has lush fruit, a firm mid-palate and exquisite balance.

Match it with: Cape Malay bobotie. Try the bobotie with brown rice and lentils recipe here.

7. RUPERT & ROTHSCHILD CLASSIQUE 2014, R139.95

In 1997 Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons was formed by Dr Anton Rupert and Baron Edmond de Rothschild with the aim of combining South African and French expertise to make supreme quality wines.

The X-factor: Merlot makes up the bulk of this blend along with Cabernet, which makes for a tantalising predominance of red fruit: raspberry, redcurrant and pomegranate with cranberry lingering on the finish.

Match it with: Duck salad with rainbow carrot slaw, raspberry vinaigrette and hazelnuts. Try the maple-and-balsamic duck skewers with charred corn salad recipe here.

Cooking notes from those in the know

Should you open your best bottle when a recipe calls for wine? We asked three pros for their number one rule when cooking with wine.

THE SOMMELIER

Moses Magwaza, Restaurant Mosaic, The Orient, Pretoria

  • Never pour too much wine into your dish. You want to enhance the flavours, not overpower them. And never use corked or oxidized wine when you are cooking.
  • My favourite dish cooked with wine is … Le Lapin on our Tabula Rasa menu: braised rabbit, morel mushrooms and prunes cooked in Roger Sabon Lirac Rouge – a Grenache, Shiraz and Cinsaut blend. I like the aromas of sweet raspberries, blackberries and garrigue with a hint of pepper.

THE CHEF

Eric Bulpitt, Faber, Avondale Estate, Paarl

  • Only if the wine is good enough to drink … is it good enough to cook with. The bonus is that you can sample a glass, too.
  • Always consider the weight of the food and the wine, as well as flavour intensity. Neither the food nor the wine should overpower the other. For hearty food like oxtail, a full-bodied wine such as Shiraz is best.
  • You must cook off the alcohol so that only the flavour remains. But never over-reduce as the sugars in wine caramelise and burn easily.

THE WINEMAKER

Kathy Jordan, Jordan wine estate, Stellenbosch

  • Always add wine as early as possible to ensure that it integrates well and all the alcohol cooks off to avoid a “wine-y” flavour.
  • My favourite wine-infused dish is fish soup/stew (bourride), because you can add at least a bottle as part of the base stock!
  • A fresh, zesty white like Jordan’s Chameleon (Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay) is ideal. The wine accentuates the delicate flavours of the white fish and prawns, and the richness of the root vegetables. These flavours are rounded off with a dollop of aïoli, permeating the soup with a delicious garlic flavour.

Learn how to make a red wine reduction here.

TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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