We are fortunate to receive bottles of wine to taste from various wineries and agencies. Over the holidays and in the last few weeks, we discovered five very notable samples. For example, we are passionate about wines from South Africa. Consequently, samples of Chenin Blanc and Pinotage from that country sparked an interest. We also opened a stunning Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, and a Rioja and a Xarel.lo from Spain. Read on to learn more about our notable samples.
Notable Samples We’ve Received
Above all, we are very fortunate indeed to receive so many samples of wine from different countries. However, some stand far above the others, whether they represent a special-occasion wine or a wonderful wallet-friendly wine. Therefore, here are our five favorites. They are from Chile, South Africa and Spain. Their prices range from $12-$75.
Notes on Notable Samples (in alphabetical order)
Anna de Codorníu Sparking Wine Cava Brut Rosé (Spain, $15)
Anna de Codorníu Sparking Wine Cava Brut Rosé is Spain’s #1 cava, and a beautiful balance between acidity and sweetness. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this refreshing cava opens with intense aromas of strawberries, cherries and red berries, followed by fine and persistent bubbles. We really enjoyed this sparkler as an apéritif. And what a great price!
Codorníu is the oldest wine-and- cava producing company in Spain. Eighteen generations of winegrowers date back to the 16th century. Codorníu also pioneered the introduction of new varieties in Spain such as Chardonnay in 1984 and Pinot Noir in 2002.
Anna de Codorníu pays tribute to the woman who changed the history of the winery with innovation in the winemaking process in the 17th century.
Lievland Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2019 (South Africa, $19)
As we continue our journey to learn more about South African wines, we recently opened Lievland Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2019. This red wine grape is a signature of South Africa. Lievland’s Pinotage (86%) is topped with 4% each of Cinsault and Grenache, plus 3% each of Mourvedre and Stellenbosch Syrah. As a result, this Pinotage features layers of aromas, red fruit (cherries and raspberries) and savory flavors, freshness, elegance and complexity.
Lievland, directly translated, means “love land.” José Conde and Tyrrel Myburgh, partners in MAN Family Wines, purchased the estate in late 2017. The farm is situated at the northern end of Stellenbosch, along what is referred to as the Simonsberg “Golden Mile” of wine estates.
However, Lievland’s history dates back to 1715. Over the years, Lievland became known as Stellenbosch’s top Syrah producer. The estate is also said to be the first to have a female winemaker and the first to produce a certified barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc. Today, Lievland is certified sustainable by the Integrated Production of Wine.
MAN Family Chenin Blanc 2021 (South Africa, $12)
Another South African wine that recently came our way is MAN Family Wines Free-Run Steen Chenin Blanc 2021. We adored it. First, this wine drinks way above its $12 price point. Second, while it will be a perfect summer sipper on a hot day, it pairs well with seafood and poultry dishes all year round. We enjoyed it with crab dip and prawns.
This is a crisp, expressive and mouth-watering Chenin Blanc with minerality and vibrant acidity from grapes grown in Malmesbury shale. Aromas of pear and pineapple lead into beautiful flavors of apples and hints of peaches and tropical fruits. Steen, the traditional South African word for Chenin Blanc, thrives in the climate and deep soils of the region.
MAN Family Wines “started with a simple idea, to make a wine we’d love to drink.” José Condé (of Stark-Condé Wines ) and brothers Tyrrel and Phillip Myburgh (of Joostenberg Wine) began making wine together in 2001. The winery’s name comes from the first initials of each of their wives, Marie, Anette and Nicky.
“We weren’t looking for rockstar bottles that cost a fortune. But we had pretty high standards (in our own opinion) and wanted wines we could enjoy with our friends, most of whom were also in the wine industry. We were wine geeks in need of an everyday wine.”
From the first cases made in a tractor shed, MAN Family Wines now produces more than 175,000 cases per year and exports to 25 countries.
Terra Remota Clos Adele 2020 (Spain, $75)
Every so often, we discover a wine grape that we have never before tasted. This time, the grape was Xarel.lo, a white grape grown in the region of Empordà in Catalonia. Wine culture reached Catalonia around the 6th century BC. Even now, the region’s growers focus on native varieties. Terra Remota Clos Adele 2020 is an elegant, full-bodied and complex wine that is 100% Xarel.lo. It is outstanding, brimming with flavors and aromas of stone fruit, a subtle minerality, and a hint of smoke, earth and herbs. We paired this powerful wine with a shrimp salad, but it would complement any fish dish. Indeed, we found it so compelling that it would stand on its own without food.
The Terra Remota winery was founded in 1999 on 44 hectares located in the far northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. The estate is about nine miles from the Mediterranean sea, close to sea level and has soils that are markedly granitic in nature. In 2017, the winery acquired 10 more hectares.
Viña San Pedro Cabo de Hornos 2017 (Chile, $57)
Cabos de Hornos 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is simply gorgeous. Viña San Pedro was founded in 1865 on the volcanic soils at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Cabos de Hornos is elegant, rich, balanced and full-bodied, bursting with black fruit flavors. This flagship wine is made with a gravity vinification system. That means the grapes and must transfer to the tanks using their own weight. The process guarantees the least intervention possible and the most delicate handling.
We paired this Cab Sauv with juicy burgers, but it would also complement grilled meats, turkey or pork roast. Cabos de Hornos 2017 is so flavorful and sophisticated, it would also taste yummy without food, especially in a glass by the fireplace on a cold winter night. Then again, this Cab Sauv would also be magnificent with a barbecued steak in the summer.
Summary: Notable Samples
In conclusion, we recommend these five standout wines from Chile, South Africa and Spain. They are available in the U.S., so be on the lookout.
Terra Remota Clos Adele 2020 and Viña San Pedro Cabo de Hornos 2017 are more pricey and will enhance a special occasion. Likewise, the other three range in price from $12-$19 and can be poured at your dinner table or be given as a gift.
Margot and Dave