Klein Karoo Pastoral – With Ice

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I was quite offended when referring to a lady of loose morals, a wine-snob friend stated that said woman is “the kind of person who puts ice in red wine”. The fraternity of wine aficionados obviously find this tag highly offensive, something akin to burning your first born with red-hot iron while getting a satanic tattoo, but it really did not have an effect on me. Partly because I, well, really like a cube of ice in red wine.

Numero Uno: Red wine is meant to be enjoyed at room temperature. And no Floris, the top-shelf next to your pizza oven in Kakamas is not room temperature. Room temperature is the draughty, spacious dining room of a European manor house with a fireplace roaring in the faraway corner. When sipping the wine, it is cool on the lips. Not blood-warm.

Numero Duo: A bit of ice has a calming effect on the prickly alcohols some red wines carry, and you would be amazed now a small cube of ice can soften the barbs.

But the real reason as when it is warm and I feel like red wine, I want to drink a lot of it, something which the refreshment offered by an iced glass allows me to do.

The Cape was pretty hot recently. And still is. With enough humidity to cause mushrooms to grown in the arm-pit of Portuguese bride. But you ain’t seen nothing. The Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn was pretty darn hotter still, so when sampling some of the local wine, ice in buckets was called for.

The magical Klein Karoo.
The magical Klein Karoo.

They make wine in Oudtshoorn?

Oh yes. Look, Medoc or Puligny it ain’t, but the folks have been growing grapes for decades. Throw in a couple of skilled young-gun winemakers, and the juice is good and palatable to the max.

I checked out two wines from Karusa, a wine farm between Oudtshoorn and the world-famous Cango Caves, wines which are the Shiraz and Pinotage. Both from 2012.

What struck me about these two wines was their unbridled deliciousness. Juicy. Bright. Appealing. And as gluggable as an iced beer after seven days in the desert.

The Shiraz is all plum and cassis with whimsical floral notes. Despite the wine oozing succulence and juice, there is nothing jammy or cloying about it. And yes, two blocks of ice in a huge glass of Karusa Shiraz, and the world’s a better place. Even the ostriches start looking clever.

Karusa’s Pinotage was all Pinotage, beautiful ripe fruit and methinks a relaxed fermentation process to slow down the tannins. Like the Shiraz, smooth as nun’s thigh with confident, broad flavours of cherry, crushed potpourri and prunes. “Drinking very well,” as Mark Norrish would say.

The quality of wine offered by Karusa is a bonus to the enigmatic Klein Karoo which terroir-wise resembles parts of Spain and has still to be discovered from a viticulture point of view. For now, a bottle of chilled wine, a chunk of local ham and a bit of shade is all you need to make a meal of this terrific part of the world.

Ice preferable, but optional.

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