Friday, 17 October 2014

3 Brooding Chocolatey Wines for Chocolate Week

Did you know that this week has been National Chocolate Week? A week celebrating all things chocolate with tastings, information and events culminating in The London Chocolate Show this weekend which even has a chocolate fashion show?!

We did, and like all good bandwagons, we've jumped straight on and we've bought our booze fuelled minds with us to bring you three big, dark and brooding wines which also happen to have the word chocolate (or close enough!) on their labels. They also all have an abv of 14.5% so please drink responsibly...

Chocoholic Pinotage, 2013, Darling Cellars, South Africa - £10.00 per bottle from Tesco Wine by the Case (p.s. It's an online exclusive so you won't find it in any Tesco stores)

Let's be honest, Pinotage often gets overlooked when it comes to red varietals and it can be a bit of a Marmite wine - love it or hate it. However, if you love rich, deep, dark, brooding reds, then this my friends, you're going to enjoy. How the team at Darling Cellars describe the Chocoholic on their website is....

"Seductively smooth, sensually soft, subtly sweet, mouthfillingly moreish, unashamedly addictive, decadently Pinotage."

...and I really couldn't have said it better myself. It's been one of the favourites at the Tesco Wine Fairs so far this year (from first hand experience), and having had representatives from Darling Cellars join the Wine by the Case team at the fairs to present their wine has been a real treat.

From 100% Pinotage, the Chocoholic uses partially dried grapes - a practice best known for the creation of Recioto, Amarone and Ripasso wines of Valpolicella in Italy - often termed 'appasimento'. This South African take combines the power and seductiveness of the Ripasso style with the uniqueness of the Pinotage grape, the bush-vines and the hot weather.

The result is dense, bright raspberry, plum and damson fruit with vanilla richness and bitter-sweet cocoa notes. If you're wanting a wine for grilled steak or gamey venison then this is it.

Having initially dismissed this in my mind as another gimmicky label, I went on to find out a little bit more about the producer and have fallen just a little bit head over heels for this small producer from South Australia - my soon to be home again.

Having only been produced under the Rocland Estate name since 1999, this small Barossa Valley producer has quickly captured the attention of Aussie wine fans and even the likes of Aussie wine critic James Halliday. With a number of uniquely labelled wines under various wine ranges, I discovered that the Chocolate Box range actually comprises of eight wines including a Sparkling Shiraz (I'll save my excitement for another day)!

The 2012 Shiraz has strong aromas of coffee and chocolate with an intense palate of coffee, liquorice spice and dark chocolate. At no less than 14.5% abv it's definitely a knockout and perhaps best reserved for a hearty stew and crusty bread.

At The Drink Shop, you can also find the Chocolate Box 'Truffle Chocolate' Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 for the same price, £13.62. Ripe blackcurrant with subtle vanilla, cassis and minty dark chocolate.

The Chocolate Block 2012, Boekenhoutskloof, Western Cape - £27.00 per bottle from Majestic Wine (Currently if you buy 2 bottles you can save £10.00 and it's just £22.00 per bottle....bargain!)

Okay, yes, this one is £27.00 - not your average weekend wine spend. BUT it is sensational and comes from one of my favourite South African producers - Boekenhoutskloof. The Boekenhoutskloof Estate (in the Franschoek Valley) is OLD, I mean really old.

Establised in 1776, the old vines are primed to produce concentrated fruit which make exceptional wines (I know because I try their range every time the opportunity pops up!) and the approach taken is typical of the South Africans - a medley of Old and New world styles.

A smorgasboard blend of five grape varieties The Chocolate Block is dominated by Syrah, reflected by the blackcurrant fruit and cocoa complexity. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier also play a part, each bringing a unique quality to the wine like leather character from the Grenache and the silky violet note from the Viognier.

Each vintage the blend is tweaked to reflect the season and show the old vines at their best. Also up at 14.5% abv it's powerful and fruit forward but with enough depth and complexity to justify the price. This one is special but be warned - it sells out very quickly! Serve as a treat with roast rib of beef or game dishes for maximum impact.

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