With the holidays upon us, it’s time to decide what bottles deserve top spot on your festive tables. So who better to turn to than the experts at Wine Cellar Fine Wine Merchants, who have tasted their way through over 5,000 wines, to bring you a few of their SA favourites. Director James Pietersen and his team have given us their top five wines for best festive season sipping.
1. As proponents of Bordeaux whites, we’re glad to see that one such blend has made the Wine Cellar list. These blends of sauvignon blanc and sémillon not only mature and evolve over a few years, but they are some of the ultimate food wines too, with great complexity perfect for pairing.
Wine Cellar’s pick of 2021 is the Vergelegen GVB White 2019. A benchmark for wines in this style, it is complex with notes of white stone fruit, some hints of fynbos and a savoury undertone that offers texture and freshness.
2. If it’s value you’re after, the team recommend the Laibach Sur Lie Chenin Blanc 2020. Made 100% organically, this wine comes from the oldest vineyard on the Laibach farm, and it punches far above its price point. “Sur Lie” refers to ageing the wine on the lees and the result is a beautiful weighty wine with a textured palate offering incredible depth of fruit, zingy acidity and a long, savoury finish.
3. What would the festive season be without some festive fizz? When it comes to sparkling wine, Wine Cellar’s favourite current release is the Pieter Ferreira Blanc de Blancs 2015. Made by the legendary Cap Classique winemaker of its namesake, this 100% chardonnay from Robertson is a magnificent example of the category’s capabilities. Refreshing and bone-dry with superb fruit purity and a subtly rich and textured mouthfeel, from six years on lees, this is a seriously remarkable bottle of bubbles.
4. Of all SA red wines, syrah has seen a massive resurgence in recent years, with the variety consistently used to produce some of the country’s most coveted and acclaimed wines.
Winemaker Jean Smit’s Damascene WO Stellenbosch Syrah 2020 is no exception, a breathtaking expression of not only syrah but also of its origin, Polkadraai, in Stellenbosch. As with all Smit’s wines, it’s a phenomenal exercise in sense of place and purity of fruit.
The clarity of fruit is followed by silky, spicy and floral notes with touches of grapefruit pith and bitter cherry. It’s a wine with superb structure, linear acidity and velvety fine-grained tannins. It’s very clever winemaking delivering a stunningly complex wine from nose through to its lingering finish.
5. Last, but not least, is their recommendation for a Bordeaux blend — and their suggestion (and mine) is perhaps unsurprisingly the Taaibosch Crescendo 2018. Its maiden release was not only one of the most anticipated releases of the year but also, undoubtedly, comfortably sits within the top five SA wines released this year.
Schalk-Willem Joubert and team having managed to reinvent the legendary Cordoba Crescendo that was previously produced on the very same farm.
The cabernet franc-driven blend is elegant and complex with a textured mouthfeel, fine tannins and fantastic tension that leads to a glorious lingering finish. It’s a wine that is drinking beautifully now but has years ahead of it.