The Easter lamb is a symbol of spring and rebirth, yet for us down south, the Easter weekend signals the beginning of autumn. We got together with a group of friends to ponder this conundrum over a delicious roast of leg lamb and fine South African reds.
Autumn demands something lighter than a thick, wintry Shiraz or Cab Sav - Pinot Noir is an obvious choice: subtle, but confident enough to stand up to the meat. We loved the Paul Cluver 2015. At R180 it isn't a steal, but worth the price for its strawberry notes with umami backgrounds in the mouth. Delicious!
A fascinating alternative is the Neil Ellis Groenekloof Cinsaut 2014. A limited release, top-of-the-range choice (R270 at the cellar door), it pairs magnificently with roast lamb. It's light, but the mouthfeel is full, smooth and comforting. The taste is clean and confident.
The Steenberg 2014 Merlot (R160) offers just the right amount of velvety structure to offset the richness of the lamb. There's a hint of fynbos and thyme to remind you of the change of seasons; it's not all ripeness and allure. Serve it slightly cooler than the temperature of your dining room to accentuate the wine's gorgeous structure and spaciousness.
The De Krans A Twist of Fate 2015 (about R60) has an interesting provenance: two grape varietals were planted at the De Krans estate near Calitzdorp. Three years later, the winemakers discovered that neither varietals were what they'd expected, ending up instead with a Tinta BArocca and a Tinta Amarela. Both cultivars originated in Portugal, and the Amarela is often used in the production of port. De Krans blended them to form a complex but lightbodied wine that doesn't hold back on the spice and cherries.
Our guest, Beefcake James, declared the Lanzerac Merlot 2014 (R140) a 'real wine' (him not being a fan of the berry taste). This Merlot is fuller than the Steenberg - redolent with spice and a little vanilla. There's chocolate and dark blackberry there too.
The Springfield Whole Berry Cabernet 2015 (R139) is made the old way: harvested by hand, carried in baskets and left uncrushed in open tanks to ferment with natural yeasts. It's velvety, and lighter than most Cabernets. The tannins are soft and the wine has a surprisingly steely nose, with a hint of eucalyptus and cherry. The 2015 is an excellent vintage, more defined than previous years, in my humble opinion.
At Easter, Kaapenaars have another lovely tradition - pickled fish. Typical of Cape Malay cuisine with its slightly sweet, curried onion sauce, it's delightful served with a light leafy salad. If you were to pair it with an afternoon white, we'd recommend Constantia Glen Two 2015 (R250). Refined and confident - 70% Sauvignon softened with a little spicy Sémillon - it's the perfect partner for your Easter fish.
Our guests politely battled over the other white winner, Cape of Good Hope's dry-as-a-bone Serruria Chardonnay 2015 (R260). A modern Chardonnay grown in the hills outside of Villiersdorp, you can almost taste the occasional snowfalls and cool nights that have helped construct its freshness and power. Not a wine to lie down and let the fish walk over it...