Holding their own against some of the most notable producers, wines from the southern hemisphere have quickly gained attention. Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and South Africa all have the right climate – and now the awards, professional acclaims, and market to be taken seriously. For much of its wine making history, South Africa has been known for making Pinotage, their signature variety, and not much else. However, in the past 10 to 15 years, due to improved viniculture practices, plantings of Cabernet and Shiraz (also known as Syrah) have increased, quality has vastly improved and many producers have quickly gained notoriety. One of my go-to choices for customers recently is the Black Pearl Cabernet and Shiraz blend. Named for the captivating Paarl Mountains on which the grapes are grown, there are only 1,200 cases of this wine produced on average each vintage. Quality remains the focus of the winemaker, Mary-Lou Nash, as she selects only the finest grapes to be used. It is practices like those that have substantially increased the quality of wines coming out of South Africa in recent years. What makes this wine particularly interesting, is the fact that upon release it already has two years of aging, one in oak and one in bottle. This old-world technique ensures that the wine is more approachable when it is put on shelves. Although the blend of Cabernet and Shiraz may be unique, the flavor profile of this wine is a crowd pleaser. On the nose, red currant, tobacco, clove and menthol, yet the palate is full with juicy dark berries, plum and a hint of white pepper. Although most definitely a full-bodied wine, Black Pearl has the elegance and finesse to be consumed and enjoyed now.
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