Sunday, March 15, 2009

Joanna Simon in The Sunday Times, March 15, 2009: Alpha male Cape reds

Women like rosé, sparkling wine and pinot grigio. Men favour big, macho reds. Right? Up to a point: the point being that men not only drink pink, fizz and pinot grigio, but recently they’ve been losing their taste for the biggest, most alcoholic reds. They still drink more red wines than women drink (and spend more), but increasingly they embrace 15 per cent abv with about as much enthusiasm as they muster for non-alcoholic beer, with the result that wine producers in areas where alcohol levels are highest (the southern hemisphere especially) need to change their practices, or go the way of the dinosaur.

Of course, some producers don’t believe in dinosaurs, but most have seen the light - which brings me to South African reds, a favourite of many an alpha-male. In recent years, the Cape has produced some of the most bruisingly alcoholic and tough wines, partly, it has to be said, because of viticultural and climatic quirks (including virused vines and high temperatures). But a new generation is making changes - not a moment too soon in my view, but then I’m only a woman. Try the three below.

2004 Meerlust Red, £9.99
A Cape take on a ripe, velvety Saint-Emilion (Handford Wines, 020 7589 6113;

2007 Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Raptor Post, £11.50-£12.99
A succulent, peppery blend of syrah and cabernet (; Delilah Fine Foods, 0115 948 4461).

2005 Lammershoek Roulette Rouge, £11-£11.65
Rich cherry-scented, Rhône-like blend (Bintwo, 01841 532022; Bowland Forest Vintners, 01200 448688).