Festive lunch gatherings should be geared around white wines and lighter reds.
Of course you could have Bubbles all the way through in our warm climate, but you will need some versatility for canapés and starters.
The L’Ormarins is our best value bubbles for the year, while Trizanne’s Sauvignon Blanc from Elim is super fresh and mineral with lots of character from the great 2017 vintage. Fable Belle Flower is one of SA’s finest and offers lots of food- pairing potential.
Keep a big ice bucket and a few extra bottles handy and allow guest to find their preference as the lunch continues.
Elegant Pinot noir or a Merlot-based Bordeaux will happily get you through the main course.
The Black Bream is made by Gavin Slabbert and heralds from a new area behind Stanford in the Overberg.
It is light but concentrated and certainly one to watch. Le Chenade is a sumptuous La lalande de Pomerol and has often been quoted as the best value Bordeaux red!
A half bottle of one of South Africa’s greatest sweet wines will definitely have some takers.
The Boekenhoutskloof shows a racy acidity and pure sweetness, giving you the enough energy for a post-lunch stroll.
Festive dinner recommendations
Festive dinners are a time for a little bit of luxury.
Celebrate the year with a glass of Champagne, toast your successes and get your taste-buds going with the Drappier Cart d’Or.
Known for its dry, Pinot noir based style, it offers lots of complexity and freshness as a perfect aperitif. Rosé is hot at the moment and the style works well with so many dishes.
The region of Tavel in Southern France only produces Rosé and the Chapoutier offers ample depth and texture with lots of flavour too.
Restless River is fast becoming one of SA’s best Chardonnays and the 2014 Ave Marie is rich and rewarding with a laser acidity and powerful structure.
From the Hemel-en-Aarde valley, it will excite any Burgundy lover or white wine drinker.
Then compare two stellar, mature Stellenbosch beauties over the main course to impress your guests.
The Trilogy is a classy and luxurious Bordeaux blend, while the Kanonkop is the king of Pinotage, especially with a decade of extra complexity.
End the evening with the pinnacle of Sweet wines from the Sauternes region of Bordeaux. The Chateau Rieussec will be great with cheese or any fruit or vanilla dessert.
Festive season lunch – tasting notes
L’Ormarins, Brut Classique NV
Delicate peach hue and a constant stream of fine bubbles. Appealing aromas of candied apple, citrus pith and a light, flinty limestone nuance.
Distinctly fruity white peach and apple on the entry with a fresh vibrance and crisp acidity that balances the ripe fruit.
Rounded, creamy, broad and textured in the mouth. Elegant and statuesque. Its long aftertaste finishes on a light lemon zest note.
100% Sauvignon Blanc. This is a wonderfully fresh and vibrant Sauvignon that celebrates the distinctively saline, white fruit found in Elim.
The 2017 is a particularly fine vintage and offers amazing balance.
‘Trizanne Barnard has done something quite special with her Elim Sauvignon Blanc 2017, this Elim wine looking showing particular refinement and composure.
The nose shows subtle notes of lime, pear, white peach and blackcurrant while the palate is concentrated but not weighty – lovely fruit purity, coated acidity and a gently savoury finish.
Very more-ish and good quality relative to price.' – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za 92/100
Fable, Belle Flower Rosé 2015
Named after the abundance of beautiful wild flowers that appear every spring at Fable Mountain, this 2015 Belle Flower Rosé is made from carefully selected parcels of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Bone dry with a low alcohol of only 12%, the wine has beautifully layered aromatics of wild berries and roses supported by a powerful yet precise palette. The wine is aged in concrete eggs for 12 months on its lees.
‘Pale, mature and savoury, this is released much later than the majority of Cape rosés. Aged in concrete eggs and 500-litre wood, it’s a marriage of Grenache and Syrah showing savoury rose petal and pot pourri notes and impressive complexity.’ – Tim Atkin MW, 91/100
B Vintners, Black Bream Pinot Noir 2016
Part of B Vintners’ Terroir Specific range. The wine shows a true sense of place, reflecting the growing conditions perfectly.
The vineyard is planted on limestone which give the wine a taut minerality; more Burgundian in style than their Stellenbosch Terroir Specific range.
‘One of the very few Pinot Noirs in South Africa that’s grown on limestone soils, located at 350 metres, this is very exciting given the young age of the vines. Chalky and refreshing, with taut, elegant red cherry and pomegranate flavour and understated oak.’ – Tim Atkin MW, 96/100
‘From a Sondagskloof vineyard. Matured for 15 months in French oak, 10% new.
A hint of reduction before red cherry and raspberry plus a little spice. Light bodied and somewhat angular on the palate, the finish very dry – some will no doubt like it for its understatement.’ – Christian Eedes, Winemag.co.za 89/100
La Chenade, Lalande de Pomerol 2014
'The 2014 La Chenade, a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, has a straightforward but appealing bouquet with ample dark cherries, bergamot tea and a touch of dried flowers.
The palate is medium-bodied with a tightly-knit structure. I appreciate the depth here, the focus and finesse, a wine that threatened to blossom in bottle... and it has.
Given the market prices for this Lalande-de-Pomerol, Denis Durantou's 2014 comes highly recommended.' – Wine Advocate, 91/100
'Plum, chocolate and cassis-bush aromas follow through to a full body, integrated tannins and a fresh and clean finish. Drink in 2020, but already a joy to taste.' – James Suckling, 92/100
‘This has a solid core of steeped raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors, backed by black tea, cinnamon and anise notes. A steady stream of fine-grained tannins gives this a persistent finish.’ – Wine Spectator, 89/100
‘Sweet and gamey on the nose. Then quite a bit of acidity on the palate but enough forward fruit to charm. What’s not to like?’ – Jancis Robinson, 16.5/20
Boekenhoutskloof, Noble Late Harvest 375ml 2014
Sourced from a vineyard planted in 1997, the NLH is often only one precious barrel per vintage.
The extremely botrytised Semillon is picked late and raised in new French oak for 30 months. Gold in colour and rich and sweet on the palate. Sauternes in style and magnificent!
'All Semillon, all botrytis and all sourced from one block close to the Franschhoek River, this is a wonderfully rich, concentrated, new oak fermented sweet wine, with flavours of pineapple and crème brûlée, some cinnamon spice and an intense, balanced finish.’ – Tim Atkin MW, 96/100
Festive season dinner
Drappier, Carte d'Or Brut NV
Drappier is a family-owned Champagne house that dates back to the 19th century.
Their Champagnes hail from the clay-rich soils of the Aube, where Pinot Noir produces fruity, exuberant wines with aromatic richness.
Embracing authenticity and a natural approach, Michel Drappier, the current family head, believes in minimal intervention, with very little addition of sugar and sulphur dioxide.
Their Carte d’Or Brut has some of the lowest counts of both compared to other 'standard' non-vintage cuvées. Carbon neutral producer?
'75% Pinot Noir with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, there is no filtering and minimal use of sulphur.
The dosage of just 7g/l and 5% of the wine is matured in barrels for 1 year to enrich the cuvée.
Granny Smith apple, toasted almond, currant and whole-grain toast flavors are fresh and well-meshed, structured by bright acidity and a lively bead. Offers a creamy finish, with hints of smoke and honeycomb.' – Wine Spectator, 91/100
‘The NV Brut Carte d’Or, 80% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 5% Meunier, is a delicious entry-level wine with excellent depth and definition. The broad shoulders of the Pinot come through in the wine’s rich, expansive core of red fruits and long, creamy finish.’ – Wine Advocate, 88/100
‘Fresh, pungent, lively nose. Falls away rather on the palate though. Competent but dull.’ – Jancis Robinson, 16/20
Chapoutier, Tavel Beaurevoir Rosé 2015
Tavel's rosé wines are considered to be among France's best. In 1820, their importance could be compared with that of the wines from Cornas or Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.
The Chapoutier Tavel Beaurevoir Rosé is a fine wine, made in a traditional style, and is made to be enjoyed with food. Beautiful, ruby colour with inviting garomas of ripe fruit, morello cherry and grenadine.
Well-rounded on the palate with powerful, yet harmonious red stone fruits and cherry on the finish. [no scores]
Restless River, Ava Marie Chardonnay 2014
The Restless River farm is located at 850ft above sea leve in the cool Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
Produced from a single vineyard and named after the 2.1ha registered block of Chardonnay planted on east- and south-facing slopes.
The shallow top soils vary from sandy gravel to rocky sandstone lying on top of decomposed granite clay and quartz.
'2014 advances even on fine 2013. Understated oak, expressive fruit and a combo of delicious, supple generosity (even in youth) and tight, mineral restraint. Subtle, succulent intensity, long finish.' – Platter's Wine Guide 2016, 5 stars
‘The 2014 Ava Marie Chardonnay is matured in 15% new oak. It has a composed bouquet with attractive white flower and hazelnut aromas infusing the citrus fruit, almost Meursault-like in character.
The palate is fresh and vibrant with beautiful balance and impressive tension, hints of bitter lemon and subtle tropical tones forming the sophisticated finish. This is simply a fantastic, lip-smackingly delicious Chardonnay from Anne and Craig Wessels.’ – Wine Advocate, 93/100
Warwick, Trilogy 2006
Delicious and mature, the Warwick 2006 is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc and 11% Merlot.
Each component was harvested and vinified separately then aged in French oak for 24 months (60% new).
It offers mature notes of dark plums, wet tobacco and attractive earthy undertones. On the palate you get savoury tomato purée followed by dry, integrated tannins. Its poised mid-palate offers wonderful fruit sweetness that balances its savouriness.
Ready to drink but will keep for another 3 – 5 years.
'Ripe and muscular, with inviting black tea, fig, bacon and licorice notes giving way to a delicious plum pudding note on the thickly layered finish. Cuts a broad swath. For the hedonist crowd. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.' – Wine Spectator, 91/100
Kanonkop, Pinotage 2007
‘The 2007 Pinotage was cool season. It has a very pure, attractive nose that echoes a modern Pinot Noir in some ways and the oak is beautifully integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with a crisp, saline entry.
This is a pointed Pinotage – fresh and perhaps a little angular, but it boasts impressive tension on the finish and should age with style. Very fine.' – Wine Advocate, 91/100
'This red combines the dark, briary edge of the grape with rich, ripe plum sauce and notes of crushed currant and fig.
A licorice snap note lingers nicely on the plush finish. Should be fun to age a bit.' Wine Spectator, 90/100
'This softer style Pinotage is a benchmark for the variety from a producer who has helped put the wine on the map. The nose is a melding of plum, cherry, spice and black currant, and on the palate, mocha, plum, spice and cherry mingle, Soft, rich and integrated, it still has the spicy vigor of a true Pinotage.' – Wine Enthusiast, 90/100
Rieussec, Sauternes 2007
‘Balanced and very spicy, with almond paste and apricot. Full-bodied, medium sweet, with a long, fruity, tangy finish. Layered and stylish.’ – Wine Spectator, 96/100
‘The 2007 Rieussec is a blend of 87% Semillon, 4.5% Muscadelle and 8.5% Sauvignon Blanc picked between 13 September and 31 October.
It has an almost Barsac-like bouquet with barley sugar joining the ginger and honeyed notes, quite powerful although I feel this is just going through a sullen patch at the moment. The palate is very pure and balanced with a wonderful seam of acidity that slices through the viscous botrytis fruit, quite spicy on the finish.’ – Wine Advocate, 92/100