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Wines that go nicely with Christmas fare

There are, I know, organised souls who did the bulk of their Christmas shopping in early spring, have festive menus planned and shopping lists stuck to the freezer door with nifty magnets.

Courses have been matched to fine whites, rare reds and a sticky or two for dessert.

Ormonde cellar and farmstead outside Darling, home to Alexanderfontein wines.Durbanville Hills shares the top position with wines from France, Canada, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Australia and Spain.Buitenverwachting winemaker Brad Patons limited editions make rich statements.Kleinood is an atmospheric Helderberg jewel.Simon Thompson of Oldenburg Vineyards samples the 2009 cab franc.

Then there are the rest of us.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional fare, go for a seafood spread or splurge on quality red meat for a festive braai, wine needs similar advance consideration if it’s going to enhance the feast.

While there is nothing wrong with playing safe with household names, it’s a good time to be more adventurous when stocking up for the holiday weekends ahead of Christmas and New Year.

Try new cultivars and blends, unearth lesser-known labels at a specialist boutique – there are hundreds of cellars in dozens of Cape regions, districts and wards to contemplate. Here are a few suggestions to consider, both new wines and new vintages from mostly boutique cellars that offer consistent quality at fair prices.

Sultry days call for well-chilled sauvignon or chenin blanc. For R40 and R35, respectively, the Alexanderfontein screwcapped pair make great aperitifs – the former would pair well with a first course of seafood salad or asparagus, while the chenin is crisp and appley, more delicate than similarly priced chenins from the Slanghoek and Breedekloof areas.

Staying with white, but moving to wines that are rich, ripe and robust: two limited editions were recently added to the Buitenverwachting range that are not listed in the new Platter.

When you stock up on the superb Husseysvlei sauvignon and consistent Buiten Blanc, try 3rd Time Lucky, winemaker Brad Paton’s name for the 2011 viognier, (R150), floral aromas and stone fruit flavours balanced with Old World elegance.

This is a wine to consider if you are planning Coronation chicken for the holidays. Loose Cannon 2010 (R120) is wooded chenin to which 8 percent semillon has lent a little flint, a wine which will take on richly sauced poultry and pork.

Staying in Constantia, new vintages being poured from the lofty Constantia Glen tasting room with its breathtaking views include the 2009 Constantia Glen Three (R150) comprising just over 40 percent merlot backed by cab and cab franc. This is ready to be paired with lamb, venison and smoked game birds, while the 2011 Constantia Glen Two, a 60/40 sauvignon blanc-semillon blend (R175) would enhance sophisticated seafood, raw, cured, smoked and grilled. It is available only from the cellar.

Tamboerskloof is the name of the wines, Kleinood that of the cellar. If you haven’t discovered this Helderberg gem, put it on your list for your next tasting trip. You’ll find a few unique wines at palatable prices, made by a committed and talented winemaker in a charming environment. Best known for their syrah, summer sipping calls for their new Katharien Syrah Rosé 2012 (R65), a good mate for Provencal fare.

Cabernet franc is one of those wines I keenly anticipate but have often found disappointing: Oldenburg Vineyard’s rendering, from the superb 2009 vintage, restored my faith in this elegant but tricky cultivar.

Robust alcohol levels are not obvious in this herby expression that spent 16 months in new French oak and costs R182 from the cellar. It could prove a fine match for venison carpaccio and roasted Med vegetable medleys.

While I veer toward Boplaas’s delicious tawny when it comes to a companion for my favourite cheese, others prefer their five star Cape Vintage Reserve 2007, which is classic Calitzdorp at its best. The cellar’s nonvintage Cape Ruby is excellent value and will complement trad Christmas puds in style. - Weekend Argus

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