Zonnebloem’s big, juicy 2014 Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier blend #WineJoziStyle @Radio2Day

One of the earliest cellars to focus on the lesser-known Mediterranean grapes that are so well suited to climate change, has been Zonnebloem. Its big, juicy Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Viognier blend is one of the Cape’s best-kept secrets.

Rich and full, its ripe berry aromas and flavours literally jump out of the glass, enlivened by spicy notes of nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Some savoury, truffle notes also add to the appeal, creating a generously and satisfyingly lingering taste.

The 2014 vintage is now on sale and is available nationally for around R79 a bottle.

All three of the Rhône varieties were sourced from vineyards in Stellenbosch, ranging from Stellenbosch Kloof to Helderberg and Devon Valley. Each vineyard block was handled separately in the cellar and individually aged for a year in a combination of new and second-fill French oak before the blend was made up.

The inclusion of Mourvèdre in the Shiraz-led blend, lends depth of colour, spice and structure. “Often Shiraz will be made with a teensy bit of Viognier because it gives an aromatic lift and a bigger mouthfeel but by adding the Mourvèdre as well, we give the wine and even fuller, richer dimension,” explains Bonny van Niekerk, who makes Zonnebloem’s reds under cellar master Elize Coetzee. “Mourvèdre is a great grape to work with locally. It’s thick-skinned, relatively drought-tolerant and flourishes in a warmer environment.”

Shiraz is often planted in warmer areas where it produces wines with blackberry, blueberry and pepper characters. Viognier is also thick-skinned and needs a fair amount of sun.

Apart from focusing on grapes that make the most of our climate, Zonnebloem is also introducing new ways of saving water and energy. In the last year alone, it has reduced the amount of water used in the cellar by 12% per litre of wine produced. “Every year, we make it a goal to improve on the water savings of the year before, ” she explains. Recycled water is used for the cooling towers in the cellar, chilling processes have become more efficient and even the cellar “housekeeping” regimes have been changed to ensure no water is wasted. “Those days of just hosing everything down to clean are long gone. We are working with a scarce resource here. We can do this just as effectively by being smarter!”

Bonny says the cellar has not only become far more water-wise. It’s also using energy more judiciously. “Even small steps like not turning equipment up to full-dial from the start but applying increases incrementally, can make a substantial difference.”

This year on Earth Hour, Saturday, March 19, Bonny will be drinking the Shiraz/Mourvèdre/ Viognier with a mushroom risotto. “It’s also delicious with slow-cooked roasts, beef short ribs and pulled pork, and stands up really well to robust flavours like soy sauce and black pepper.”

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