Tim James, wine journalist and author of Wines of the New South Africa: Tradition and Revolution, recently introduced his list of fine red blends to an audience of Hermanus FynArts attendees. The tasting got going with observations about the many white and red blends available in South Africa and the great skills local winemakers apply to excel at producing good blends. In the Hemel-en-Aarde all the wineries produce a blend except for Hamilton Russell Vineyards and Restless River – two winegrowers producing only two single varietal wines each. Tim explained the motivation for blending wines as follows:
- Winemakers use what they have available in the vineyards.
- For insurance. Vintners blend with the varietals that did well in a particular year – varietals that can be counted on to produce good results.
- For the effect achieved with the blend. Sauvignon Blanc adds freshness while Chenin gives weight.
- Tradition. Continuing with blends that brands are known for.
- Playing by the rules. In Bordeaux you have to use what is allowed – combinations of any two or more of the following five varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec.
- Expressing creativity.
Tim looked beyond Hemel-en-Aarde for his line up of red blends and included:
Beyerskloof Synergy 54% Pinotage; 23% Cabernet Sauvignon: 23% Merlot
Chamonix Troika 50% Cabernet Franc, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot
David Sadie Elpidios Syrah, Carignan, Cinsaut, Grenache and a little Pinotage
Delaire Botmaskop 2013 vintage is a Bordeaux blend, 2012 had some shiraz as well
Mount Abora The Abyssinian 57% Syrah, 29% Mourvèdre, 14% Cinsault
Nederburg Ingenuity Spanish 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano
Peter Bayly III Portuguese varietals: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca & Souzao
Tokara Directors Reserve Bordeaux blend (not presented – only white blend available)
Getting it right like South African winemakers does provides more than enough evidence to defend the blend.