When the weather turns cold, the palate hankers for something a little heavier, with a bigger body, a rounder mouth feel, fuller fruits, and headier tannins. And while Franschhoek is known for its light, summer wines and bubbly, it is also heartland for sultry reds and whites with the voluptuous body and elegance of a burlesque dancer. Here is a selection of winter-worthy Franschhoek wines that are guaranteed to warm your insides and flush your cheeks.
La Petite Ferme Merlot 2017
The 2017 Merlot from La Petite Ferme is a subtle, complex, elegant, and firm wine that lures you in with elements of cherry fruits, buchu, peppermint, chocolate, and mocha. The Merlot spends 12 months on French oak, which is integrated elegantly and delivers good weight on the mid-palate and finishing off with firm powdery tannins. A complex but balanced wine with great versatility and perfect on a wintry evening with (or even without) food! Le Petite Ferme also has a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Shiraz 2016, and Cape Blend 2016.
Cellar Door Price:R220
Black Elephant Vintners: The Daniel Collection “Amazing Grace” 2015
Black Elephant Vintners “Amazing Grace” comes from the Daniel Collection and is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sourced from two blocks (one planted in 1999 and another in 2003) on the Franschhoek farm. Going by the nickname “The Godfather”, this 24-month French oak barrel matured Cabernet Sauvignon is an impressive deep red in colour and boasts a rich nose of intense, nutty fruitcake, black and red wild berries, toasted tobacco, and some cedar notes. On the palate, it delivers big, intense flavours with thick, broad tannins, though still quite fine, and a long finish.
Cellar Door Price:R335
Boschendal 1685 Series Shiraz 2017
Boschendal’s 1685 range is presented in a unique curvaceous bottle inspired by the traditional bottle design to commemorate the year the original title deeds to the farm were signed. Grapes for the Shiraz 2017 were specifically selected from cool climate sites and made by winemaker Bertho van der Westhuizenin the traditional Syrah style to promote savoury spice and pepper. On the nose, this gorgeous wine delivers dark fruits of cherries, mulberries, and plum and exotic spice from the oak. The palate is generous, rich, and deep with black fruit, silky ripe tannins, elegant freshness, and lingering length.
Cellar Door Price:R150
The Grande Provence White 2016
The flagship white wine blend from Grande Provence is composed of 56% Chenin Blanc from 32-year-old vines (fermented in old large French oak barrels for 12 months) and 44% Viognier sourced from high on the slopes of the Franschhoek mountains (aged in new and older French Oak barriques for 12 months). The result is a sublime blend of two classic varieties and a barrel fermented white wine that is rich, full bodied, intriguing, and offers immense pleasure now and for several years to come. It’s also earned 4 stars from the Platter Wine Guide 2015!
Cellar Door Price:R430
Haut Espoir “Gentle Giant” 2014
The grapes for the Haut Espoir “Gentle Giant” 2014 blend (48% Merlot, 31% Petit Verdot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon) were sourced from Haut Espoir and its neighbouring Franschhoek farms. The extremely dry conditions prior to harvest yielded great quality grapes, which winemaker Marozanne Bieldt aged separately in barrel for 30 months before blending and bottling. Warm spices dominate the nose with wild cherries and sweet tobacco flavours and a smooth and rich textured palate of vibrant dark fruit and white pepper.
Cellar Door Price:R120
Holden Manz Proprietors’ Blend 2015
Located in the top, southern-most corner of the Franschhoek Valley, the 22-hectare Holden Manz Wine Estate presents the maiden vintage of this spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend. This unusual blend for the Franschhoek valley features a nose of black cherries, hibiscus, and raspberry, and hints of cedar wood and cherry pipe tobacco. The tannins are soft, voluptuous, and well integrated and the palate rich, creamy, silky smooth, and cassis fresh. This is an ultra-premium wines made for the discerning wine connoisseur…and for anyone who can appreciate an absolutely beautiful red wine!
Cellar Door Price:R 1,500 for a case of six
Maison Chardonnay 2017
This wooded Chardonnay from Maison Wine Estate is crisp, creamy, and utterly captivating; like a golden autumn afternoon in an oak-lined road. Best enjoyed with chilled vibes and a carefree attitude, this wine spends several months in small French oak barrels. Maison’s simple, no-frills approach to winemaking has produced a range of wines with unrivalled depth and character and this beautiful, rich, and elegant Chardonnay is an excellent ambassador of this philosophy.
Cellar Door Price:R204
Môreson Mercator Premium Chardonnay 2016
Golden straw in hue, the Môreson Mercator Premium Chardonnay is a decadent, rich, and moreish number with lemon, pineapple aromas and a luxurious buttery character. The specific chardonnay vineyards used yield quick ripening and intensely flavoured grapes. The wine is then kept on its lees for the duration of its maturation, which occurs in 50% new French oak and 50% second and third fill barrels for 12 months. The subsequent wine is well-balanced with an excellent mouth-feel and a delicious long, long finish.
Cellar Door Price:R240
Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
The Plaisir de Merle Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark ruby red wine with an aromatic nose of red berry fruit, sweet spice, and hints of vanilla and oak. This full-bodied, fruit-driven wine by winemaker Niel Bester delivers blackberry fruit, cedar notes, dark chocolate, and vanilla underscored by a firm, ripe tannin structure and lingering sweet red berry fruit. Composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec, this beautiful, versatile red wine is the perfect accompaniment to just about any red meat dish and an absolute must for this winter, or any winter for the next five years or more!
Cellar Door Price:R230
Rickety Bridge Foundation Stone Red Blend 2015
The Foundation Stone Red from Rickety Bridge is a Mediterranean style blend of six wine varietals: 43% Shiraz, 20% Grenache Noir, 19% Cinsault, 9% Tannat, and 9% Mourvèdre. These varietals are sourced from vineyards planted in decomposed granite soils with westerly facing slopes in the Franschhoek, Walker Bay, and Breede River areas, matured separately in barrel for 18 months, and then blended for bottling. The intriguing result is a red wine that is silky soft on the palate with succulent tannins and notes of black pepper, blackcurrant, and white chocolate on the nose.
Cellar Door Price:R110
Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons Classique 2016
The Classique 2016 from Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons is a 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc blend with pure, dark blackcurrant and plum aromas and notes of cedar wood and graphite. On the palate, this heady Bordeaux-style blend delivers abundant fresh berry flavours with lavish, fine-textured tannins, and a lingering aftertaste. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks with extended skin contact and matured for 17 months in French oak barrels with an aging potential of seven years from vintage.
Cellar Door Price:R190
Stony Brook Vineyards The “J” White Blend
The “J’ White Blend from the boutique Stony Brook Vineyards is a wonderfully complex blend of 35% Viognier, 25% Chenin Blanc, 15% Semillon, 15% Chardonnay, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc that is a unique expression of Franschhoek’s Bo-Hoek region. With just over 50% of the wine being fermented and matured in oak for 11 months after whole-bunch pressing, the intention of this wine is to create a texturally rich mouthfeel with brightness and depth. On the nose, there are notes of spice, stone fruit, and honey.
Also try: Ghost Gum White 2017 (R140 per bottle)
Cellar Door Price:R95