This time of year in New York, over 1300 indie bands and artists flock to the city for CMJ, playing gigs for five straight days in hopes of being discovered as the next big thing in music. To honor their efforts, I dig up the most eclectic, under-the-radar wines I can find, and… well, I drink them. The whole idea makes a lot more sense in practice, I can assure you. In any case, it provides a good chance to discuss a wine from a region I spend little time on generally: South Africa.
At this point, South Africa is on the wine map, for sure, mostly due to the exceedingly tasty whites coming out of Stellenbosch, a town in Western Cape province. It has delicious Chenin Blanc, good Sauvignon Blanc, and its own unique red: Pinotage, a marriage of the varietals Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Of course, I can’t stand most Pinotage; find it clunky in the extreme. But there you go. Like finding new music, hunting for great wines means drinking in the bad with the good.
And as with music, you’ll find some oddball wines if you spend enough time hunting. And as I prepared for CMJ, my hunt revealed this: the 2010 Badenhorst “Secateurs” blend, produced by AA Badenhorst Family Wines. The grapevines grow (mostly) on three different types of granite soil, and average around 50 years in age, leading to tremendous concentration in the flavors of the wine. Winemaking is done without crushing or destemming – grapes are dealt with as whole bunches. The blend in this case is a medley of red grapes, known to greater or lesser degrees by savvy drinkers: Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 14 months in a mix of old foudre barrels and concrete tanks, which have minimal impact on the final product’s flavors.
The result? A lovely garnet in the glass, with aromas of red berries, spice, and black peppercorns. Fantastic balance and a supple mouthfeel complement more juicy red fruit after the first sip, and the wine is harmoniously engaged with both its acidity and tannins, which you get some nice chew from towards the finish. Exceptional with roast beef or venison, or herb-encrusted lamb and potato salad. $18. I highly recommend this one.