Photo: REUTERS/Paolo Cocco
Photo: REUTERS/Paolo Cocco

On the weekend of August 31, Montecasino’s Pivot courtyard will be the launch pad of its Spring Sauvignon Blanc Festival, which serves as a reminder that this snowy spell is only temporary.

But until then, I’m sticking mostly with red wine: life’s too short to rush the seasons.

Here are a few of my picks which might be of interest to stay warm – all of them pair well with the hearty fare of winter, although most will cross over well into the early days of spring:

Clos Malverne, renowned for its fruit-driven, food-friendly red wines produced at Devon Valley outside Stellenbosch, has released the latest vintages of its flagship red wine duo – the multi-awarded Cape Blend, Auret 2010 and the Pinotage Reserve 2010.

The estate focuses on classic, elegant red wines of complexity. The cellar is one of the few wineries that still uses gentle basket pressing, harvested at optimal ripeness from prime vines on the estate.

The 2009 Auret clinched a gold at the 2011 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles wine challenge held in Luxembourg. The 2010 Auret (the owner, Seymour Prithcard’s mother’s maiden name) is a 56 percent cabernet sauvignon-30 percent pinotage blend with a touch of merlot and shiraz for complexity.

The Pinotage Reserve 2010, though, is rather exciting. This truly SA grape varietal is really coming into its own lately and the well-structured Pinotage Reserve shows wonderful nuances with a dark plum hue and bursts with red and dark berries.

Winkemaker Suzanne Coetzee (formerly of Boekenhoutskloof and Vriesenhof) says: “My favourite grape varietal is pinotage and fortunately Clos Malverne has an excellent track record when it comes to world-class pinotage.

“We pride ourselves in quality consistency and one should never be nervous to open a 10-year-old bottle of Clos Malverne Pinotage Reserve for your friends.”

She suggests serving it with beef fillet with truffle jus, rich oxtail, beef Wellington, or malva pudding with spicy mandarin ice cream. It costs about R168 a bottle.

Another family-run estate, the German-owned Hoopenburg Wines, prides itself on its 100 percent bush vines vineyard, which yields grapes in great intensity and flavour.

Cellarmaster at Hoopenburg, Anton Beukes, explains: “Our vineyards are naturally controlled to have yields of below six tons per hectare. All our grapes are hand-picked and sorted so we extract only the best juice, and in our cellar we aim to capture and enhance the grapes’ natural potential.”

Hoopenburg have converted their chardonnay and shiraz vineyards to organically grown blocks and three new vintages across its ranges have been introduced: in the premium Integer, the Hoopenburg estate range and the easy-drinking Guru wines.

This being red wine weather, I adore their classically styled Pinot Noir 2009 – the heart-break grape transformed into an elegant wine with ripe tannins, a forest floor character and gorgeous plums (about R95).

The second label, Guru merlot 2008, is great value, at just R39, with an intense nose of prunes and black olives, with the soft, round tannins integral to a merlot. And if you’re in the mood for bubbly, their Integer cap classique, a new release, achieved four-and-a-half stars in this year’s Platter (R90).

Graham Beck’s Bowed Head chenin blanc 2010 and Coffeestone (“koffieklip” soil) cabernet sauvignon were both placed in the annual Top 10 listings for the two varietals.

At the Classic Chenin Blanc Top 10 this year, their chenin was selected as one of the country’s best, which is no surprise as this “workhorse” grape really comes into its own in at Graham Beck.

Winemaker Erica Obermeyer is inspired by the wines of the Loire, which has resulted in a lightly oaked wine with creaminess and good weight on the palate.

Their Coffeestone cabernet sauvignon is produced in the Firgrove’s koffieklip soils, resulting in tiny berries, tobacco spice and concentrated fruits. Renowned wine writer and former editor of Wine magazine, Christian Eedes, cited this cab in his Cabernet Sauvignon Report Top Ten 2012, with the judges noting its “reined-in power”, excellent structure and age-worthiness. The chenin costs R110, the cab R180 through the cellar, and are available at fine retailers.

THIS month things are warming up in the wine world – and, after a hiatus, it’s about time.

• Next week sees the annual Johannesburg Cap Classique |and Champagne Celebration presented by MasterCard, on August 18 and 19 (12pm to 5pm daily) at the Johannesburg Country Club in Auckland Park.

Showcasing some of the country’s top cap classiques |from estates such as Backsberg, Colmant, Graham Beck, Krone, La Motte, Môreson, Pierre Jourdan, Simonsig, Steenberg, Topiary Wines and Villiera, the festival will offer patrons the opportunity to sip and sample |the finest of local bubblies.

Champagne houses will include Billecart Salmon, |Tribaut and Veuve Clicquot. Visitors will be able to buy |wines at exceptional prices at|the festival, affording them the perfect opportunity to stock up for the festive season. Tickets cost R250 a person.

Tickets can be bought through, and MasterCard cardholders will benefit from a 10 percent discount on this price, if they pay using their MasterCard card. MasterCard cardholders will also enjoy a 10 percent discount on cap classiques and champagnes bought from the exhibitors at the festival.

• On August 28, the women-only wine club Savvy Sisters and Debi van Flymen from Wine Cellar will be hosting an Italian wine tasting which will include wines from Tuscany, Piedmont and Sicily. Dinner will be Italian too, for a cost of R220 which gets you the wines to taste, dinner and a night out with the girls. Bookings always fill up very quickly so contact Kirstin on 0798844724 or e-mail [email protected] asap.

• On August 30, the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction tasting will be held at the Nedbank Sandton, which takes the form of a seated tasting of the wines by their winemakers. The auction takes place on October 6 so if you want to taste the best of the best, tickets are limited. The venue is The Atrium, Nedbank, 135 Rivonia Road, Sandton, from 6pm to 9pm. Tickets are R170 a person including a tasting glass. Bookings via

Win! Tonight has four double tickets to give away, so e-mail [email protected] by Monday at noon.