Where there is no wine there is no love – Euripides
Christmas is a time for family, love, giving, joy, forgiving, reconnections… the list is endless. It’s officially eight days until Christmas and if you haven’t started ticking all the boxes for your Christmas wish lists and “pay it forwards”, I’m afraid you’re running out of festive time. I find myself drifting off into my child hood years and re living Christmas moments singing what used to be one of my favourite songs, which, by the way, I haven’t heard in years. “Love letters of Christmas”. With this song, thoughts of “wine letters of Christmas” surface and an important question has to be asked. What wines will be speaking to you this Christmas? Where will you be drinking your wine and with whom? Wine not wine lovers, as this week it’s all about “wine letters of Christmas” giving you a festive season message.
C – “Christ Jesus has come from heaven…”
Chenin Blanc, often referred to as Chenin, is a befitting festive season white wine sipper, especially for Zimbabweans. The various Chenin Blancs available will give wine lovers a choice that suits this merry occasion. You can often find it labeled or being referred to as ‘Steen’, wine not, it is a term used in South Africa to refer to Chenin Blanc. South Arica has the largest plantings of Chenin worldwide. Plantings can also be found in France, the home of Chenin Blanc and names such as Pineau de la Loire, Savenierres, Quarts de Chaume are synonymous with Chenin. Wine lovers; consider this wine as your wine of first choice because it delivers more than the actual Chenin Promise. With its admirable versatile nature, Chenin Blanc can easily be served to all your guests. From aged Chenin, wooded, dry, semi sweet, and dessert-style wine, it definitely makes for a good sipper for varied palates. South Africa is the winner of the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition’s 2019 Chenin Blanc Trophy. The award went to Stellenrust Barrel fermented Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch Manor) 2018. Celebrate memories and reconnections with a Chenin.
H – “The holy I am…”
Hanepoot is a term you’ll come across in South Africa referring to a grape in the huge Muscat grape family, Muscat d’Alexandrie. It’s a ‘sweet’ festive pleaser and is often found as a fortified wine. During its production, the addition of alcohol in the form of grape spirit is usually added to stop further fermentation resulting in a wine with a higher alcoholic strength. Jerepigo and Muscadel are some of the wines you can look out for. Apart from making fortified wines, Hanepoot is also used for brandy, liqueurs and raisins. Keep your eyes open this festive season for Orange River Cellars Hanepoot (available from the The Cellar) and Boplaas Hanepoot (available from Table Top Trading).
R – “Rejoice with them mighty angels…”
Ratafia will allow you a nostalgic and sweet experience this Christmas with a tradition that you can’t resist being a part of. This wine is produced traditionally in France, as well as Italy and Spain, through a process involving the drying of grapes, almost to the point of raisins. Adding left over grape juice and grape spirit, resulting in softening the raisins, produces this wine. Pierre Jourdan Ratafia is the only one of its kind produced in South Africa. I have spotted it in Zimbabwe. Add an interesting dimension to your festivities by ‘packing in a punch’ of a sipper with a Ratafia, available at Stables Winery.
I – “The infant both God and man, oh…”
Icewine has to make it on the Christmas list of festivities Though Icewine (made from various grape varieties) can only be produced in countries that experience extreme cold temperatures, totally excluding the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps this can be on your list next year. Icewine is Canada’s specialty and every year there is a harvest. Temperatures as low as -8 degrees are required for harvest to take place. A few other countries including but not limited to Germany. Luxembourg and Austria produce Icewine. Thanks to a wine loving friend and specialist, four wine lovers, me included, had an enjoyable sip of Icewine filled with structure, elegance and unbelievable balance. A definite dose of our merriment zen was had.
S – “A star moving through the heavens…”
Shiraz, just because wine lovers need to add that whiff of ‘spice’ to this festive season, makes this red wine a choice worth your while. They do after all say, ‘variety is the spice of life’, (pun intended). This red grape varietal, leaves no wine lover unattended, from big and bold, easy drinking, blend or semi sweet sparkling. Make your Shiraz of choice your ‘star’ this Christmas. Babylonstoren Shiraz and Babylonstoren Babel (Shiraz Blend) are two befitting choices available in Zimbabwe from Danai Wines.
T – “Great tidings of joy”
Touriga Nacional is most commonly associated with Portugal, in the production of Port, a fortified wine and now increasingly in dry reds in Portugal, Spain, Australia and South Africa. If you want to embark on a tannic red wine drive, then Touriga Nacional is your festive wine. Overgaauw Touriga Nacional and Boplaas Touriga Nacional are available in Zimbabwe. Create new memories and share your love for wine with family, friends and Touriga Nacional. (available from Latilla wines)
M – “A manger that Jesus slept in…”
Moscato, the Italian term for the Muscat grape has to feature this Christmas and allow you, wine lovers to enjoy a ‘proudly Zimbabwean’ moment with our very own Bushman Rock Estate Moscato. It is famous for its floral and fruity appeal, sweetness and known for widespread growth and its having been around for centuries. Still wines, slightly sparkling and sparkling wines are Moscato to the soul. Don’t get confused when you’re offered a ‘pink Moscato’; it is still Moscato with a touch of colour. Sweetly sip on a Zimbabwean Moscato and have a Zimbabwean fit Christmas.
A – “The angel who watched the baby boy…”
Albariño, a white wine variety mostly grown in Spain and Portugal is gaining in popularity and included in wine trailblazing is Newton Johnson Vineyards that is producing an Albariño. Trend with this white wine this Christmas and enjoy everything to love from this wine bottled ‘perfume’ first released in 2015. I can’t wait to get a taste of this, if not this festive season, then the next.
S – “A Saviour is sent from heaven…”
Sémillon is commonly known for its role in the production of the famous wine, Sauternes, in France. Grown in several wine regions, South Africa, Australia, America, it is commonly blended with Sauvignon Blanc. This common offering has shifted, giving wine lovers single varietal Semillons. Another treat for you this festive season will be a Bushman Rock Estate’s Semillon, which will give you another ‘proudly Zimbabwean’ festive sip. It is its substantial body with a ‘fatty’ appeal that will arouse your white wine interest. Let this festive season get you acquainted with this grape variety and sip away this merry season. For double the enjoyment in one festive sitting, Foothills Semillon, a South African one is also available in Zimbabwe (Latilla Wines) for a Semillon Christmas.
What are your wine letters of Christmas telling you wine lovers? Which one is it going to be for a family ‘get together’, or a stroll down memory lane, surviving nostalgia or celebrating love? It’s a countdown and don’t get left out. My wines are lined up and I’m slowly ticking the boxes towards Christmas. Let these wine letters speak to you and all you have to do is formulate the message. Until next week wine lovers, here’s to merry festivities and a sip of wine from the letter that’s whispering to you. Cheers!
About the writer:
Lebbie is a qualified passion-filled Wine Consultant who spends quality time with wine through travel, study, wine chat and of course sipping on wines.
? DID YOU KNOW?
Bushman Rock Estate is the only wine estate in Zimbabwe.
This article first appeared in The Standard Lifestyle magazine