Before winter really packs its wet, windy belongings and leaves our valley until 2016, we thought we’d give it an honorary send-off by tasting Constantia Uitsig’s Red Horizon 2012 and choosing a fitting dish to serve with it.
Awarded a prestigious four-star rating by John Platter, Uitsig’s Red Horizon 2012 isn’t bad at any time of year, but it’s never better than when enjoyed next to a crackling fire in the dead of winter. When we met for our tasting, the fire at Open Door greeted us, as did well-dressed, pressed linen napkins in the shape of dinner jackets.
Dashing in from different directions, stresses and distractions, we all found our way to our table and soon were focused on nothing but the hypnotic swirl of red before us.
A fresh and complex front of blackberry and pencil shavings envelops the nose. Elegant spices, rich red fruits like cherries and the oh-so-subtle hint of tobacco await the patient imbiber.
Jacques and Neil take a moment to discuss the intricacies of this Bordeaux blend, given its origin. As Jacques explains, “Constantia’s cool climate means there’s always a risk of not getting the grapes properly ripened, resulting in a wine with unripe flavours. Thankfully for us, Uitsig lies in a predominantly flat section of the valley – far enough away from the mountain to gain a decent amount of sunlight. Excellent soil drainage is also in our favour, allowing our wines to really ripen on the vine, as any good red must.”
In the main, there are two kinds of Bordeaux blends. Most are based on Cabernet Sauvignon, whilst Red Horizon leads with Merlot (72%), followed by 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc.
The Merlot predominance makes this wine softer and perhaps more elegant, in Jacques and Neil’s opinion.
“The palate is well integrated for its youthful age,” continues Neil, “But when you have the chance, decant at least an hour ahead of time. You won’t believe the difference it will make.”
Speaking of decanting – both men agree that thanks to this wine’s softer tannins, it’s a great red to drink right now (before the end of winter). Nevertheless, it shows promising aging potential and come next winter, and the next (right up until 2018), Uitsig’s Red Horizon 2012 will continue to just get better and better.
If you choose to store wine at home (And who wouldn’t – given this month’s Inner Circle special on Red Horizon), Neil and Jacques are emphatic about how you store it. Apparently twelve and a half degrees is the ideal temperature to store wine, but if you don’t have a cellar, find a cool place keep it away from light, and keep the cork nice and moist. More important than the actual temperature, is the range of fluctuation the wine will experience – the less temperature fluctuation, the better. In Jacques’ words, “If it’s always 14 degrees – that’s much better than a place that’s sometimes 8 and then 16!”
So what dish did we decide would be ideal? In Neil’s opinion, “This kind of Bordeaux pairs well with more serious beef, sheep or game dishes and stews.”
We all agreed that the tannins and spices in the wine would go excellently with a lamb dish. And given our focus this month on pruning – what better dish than a Lamb Tagine with Prunes. Spicy, rich and just a little off centre… a perfect match for our racy red.
Why not try the recipe for yourself? Then decant a bottle of Red Horizon 2012 (it’s free this month with every case of wine you buy), get that fire going, and raise one last glass to the cold weather we will soon be saying goodbye to.