Marthélize Tredoux: In praise of lighter reds and rosé

November 9, 2015
by Marthelize Tredoux
in Opinion & Analysis
with 9 Comments

I don’t mind sharing with you that last week was arguably the crappiest of the entire year so far. I’d compare the last couple of days to a papercut. Between your toes. Nothing that would kill you but unbearable, unpleasant and downright unnecessary.

But I won’t turn the post into a diary entry of a moody, sulking teenager.

I only mention it because I realised again this week that in the midst of our daily crises and frustrations where seemingly everything that can go wrong actually does, it’s the small mercies and the little joys that keep us going. For many of us, wine is simply one of those little joys.

And with summer approaching and the wine shelves filled with the most fantastically interesting wines, wine lovers are in for a great couple of months. In searching for some wine-based escapism this week, I plunged into some interesting finds in the lighter red and rosé categories. I don’t usually write “best of” or “themed” wine lists but I think this is worth delving into – I’m also counting on some crowdsourcing in the comments for a few must-try suggestions…hint, hint.

Thirst CinsaultThe first two gems are likely to be my summer staple wines – both from The Winery of Good Hope. The very moreish Thirst Cinsault is a buy-by-the-case-bonanza. Unfined and unfiltered, this puppy is a party in the mouth. Low-alcohol, lighter than a summer’s breeze and more than enough subtle complexity to discern it from soccer-mom poolside tipples. I may or may not have it in my glass right now.

The Thirst Gamay Noir is next on the list. Another low-alcohol gem (by nature rather than by design), pinkish purple and sitting pretty, bursts with strawberries and cranberries and had just the right balance of tannin and acid to keep it crisp and clean.

The always impressive Craven Pinot Noir is another staple – great for al fresco lunches or when sultry sundowners turn into cool summer nights. It just happens to be low alcohol too (an unintended trend that seems to characterise this list so far) and is one of the most drinkable, accessible (if slightly atypical) examples of Pinot Noir around. Red cherries everywhere but a backbone of slight fragrant spice makes this a delectable addition to the list.

I suppose no summer wine list would be complete without some pretty pink rosé examples. I would refer anyone to the Rosé Rocks Top 10 list – having judged the competition, I’m happy to report that they’re all worth a second look (there’s even a really good sweet one in there to keep the syrup-lovers happy). The Tamboerskloof Katharien came up tops (and deservingly so) – a Syrah rosé with restrained fruit and a touch of spice. Starts out quite tight, so could actually use a touch of decanting to open it up a bit. And if you’re looking for a pink bubbly to knock some socks off, the one that came up tops at the competition was the Villiera Brut Rosé that is made exclusively for Woolworths – it was also my personal top pick of the crop.

Other must-quaff pinkies for your summer shopping list are the Vondeling rosé (pale pink perfection made from Merlot, it’s crisp and refreshing with candied citrus notes intertwined with the expected red fruits), the Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos (made from a blend of varietals, salmon pink in colour, all the red berries you could ask for but great balance and structure to remind you it’s a really great wine) and the Delheim Pinotage Rosé which has something about it (maybe the drop of Muscat?) that just keeps me coming back to it – good concentration and a great finish, this one does well with lots of chilling without losing it’s character.

Feel free to agree, disagree or (and this is where the crowdsourcing bit comes in) add more suggestions in the comments below – I’ve not even scratched the surface but I am prepared to take upon myself the grueling task of tasting my way through any and all similar offerings.

  • Marthélize Tredoux is the co-owner and editor at Incogvino. By day, she helps SA wineries sell their wine in the USA. She won a wine writing award once.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Share this post


  1. SmirrieNovember 17, 2015 at 8:33 amReply

    Kwispedoor if i can recall the Chilean wine was a 2004 which was still a beauty even after 11 years.

    Most of the wine drinkers in our group who prefers whites above reds scored the wines much higher chilled than which they might have scored it if the wine was tasted at 16 degree Celsius in my humble opinion.

    My personal favourites on the day was the AA Badenhorst Cinsaut, Mullineux Carignan and the Argentinean wine.

    I am a big believer that in summer time we can serve even our Bordeaux wines a bit chilled as it will warm up in your glass.

    • KwispedoorNovember 17, 2015 at 9:06 amReply

      Ugh, a typo. Thanks, Smirrie, yes it was a 2004. An entry level wine, but we’ve seen before how surprisingly well that 2004 has matured.

    • MarthelizeNovember 17, 2015 at 4:25 pmReply

      Thanks Smirrie and Kwispedoor for the list and feedback – there are a couple of reds that I haven’t tried yet but they’re on my to drink list for the summer. Excellent work. Excellent. :)

  2. KwispedoorNovember 13, 2015 at 8:49 amReply

    Hi, Marthélize.
    My wine club, The Noble Rotters, is tasting just these kinds of red wines (not rosés) tomorrow (Saturday) at 14:00. Our theme is Chillin’ With Reds and if you or Christian happens to be around Glen Austin (Midrand) tomorrow, you and your spouses are welcome to join us. I realise that it’s short notice and you probably won’t be able to make it, but if you can our tastings are always heaps of fun, followed by three courses of good food to match the wine. You’ll have to provide an email address so that I can send details and we’ll have to do so fairly soon, considering catering requirements.

    • MarthelizeNovember 13, 2015 at 4:46 pmReply

      Hi Kwisp
      Thanks for the VERY kind invitation :) Sadly, being in Cape Town, it’s a bit far to get there for a tasting and I’m almost never up in the north – but if I ever am, I will definitely let you know so I can join.
      Please let us know how the tasting went, what was enjoyed and what came out tops! Would love to know what’s going around.
      thank you :)

      • KwispedoorNovember 16, 2015 at 7:30 pm

        Hi, Marthélize

        So I forgot the tasting sheets at the venue and will only be able to crunch the numbers much later. But this is what our members brought to the tasting (each one brings a bottle that corresponds to the theme):

        Hermit on the Hill Knights in Tights Mourvèdre Luminoir 2013
        David Finlayson Pinot Noir 2011
        Leeuwenkuil Cinsault 2014
        Casillero del Diablo Pinot Noir 2014 (Chilean)
        Ataraxia Serenity 2010
        AA Badenhorst Family Wines Ramnasgras Cinsault 2014
        Mullineux Old Vines Carignan 2013
        Misterio Malbec 2013 (Argentinian)
        Snow Mountain Syrah 2009
        Two Oceans Pinot Noir 2009
        Radford Dale Thirst Cinsault 2015

        All the wines were consistently good, apart from one wine that was much better when it was still a baby. A few of these wines arguably don’t specifically fall into the “need to chill” category (the Mullineux, Snow Mountain and Ataraxia), but regardless of that they all performed really well chilled – it was a hot day. By the way, that Two Oceans Pinot is the vintage that thumped many of the major Hemel-en-Aarde stalwarts in a (printed) Wine Magazine blind tasting some time ago. It’s still pretty good…

        These sort of wines are just perfect for our summer!

  3. Ankia PelserNovember 10, 2015 at 3:19 pmReply

    Hi Marthelize, this is a lekker read. Thank you. Bernard, if you liked the Safraan (which is beautiful I might add), you must try to get your hands on Hermit on the Hill Knights in Tights. This is also a “light red”, but I am sure winemaker Pieter de Waal would prefer that I refer to it as a Luminoir (what a beautiful word). The label is just as quirky as the wine, made from Mourvedre grapes. Lam Pinotage (Lammershoek) is also a great example of a “light red” – perfect for summer.
    And let’s touch on the subject of Rose … This weekend at Swartland Revolution Eben Sadie once again confirmed that we should get the wine drinkers out there to drink and enjoy their Pink Wines (and to pay for them). There is some excellent examples of Rose and it is really an important category. As it was explained at the Revolution: Some red varieties make for excellent wine but only once the vineyard has reached a certain age (30 years +). The younger vines of that exact same cultivar does not necessarily make good red wines, but it can make spectacular Rose’s. So easy – if you want some decent old vineyards for the future which will produce high quality red wine, you should have the patience to wait for it firstly and secondly you should buy the Rose made from the grapes while waiting for the vineyard to mature. Otherwise there will be no commercial value in keeping the vineyard and letting it age. We should think of the future of the wine industry of South Africa (and this is just as much the responsibility of the wine consumer as it is of the winemaker). Pour yourself something Pink!

    • MarthelizeNovember 10, 2015 at 9:45 pmReply

      Ankia, that’s the best comment ever :) Thanks for adding the SR insight – I’m so glad there’s some discussion happening around rosè. I’ve said it before, I’ve had my struggles with the pink wines (for personal reasons after torturous sensory training experiences with it) but coming back on board with the lovely rose-coloured stuff has been the best wine-related decision I’ve made in the last 5 years.
      And Bernard, I’m the last one to push a style or cultivar on people, prescribing what they should be drinking but I am slowly wondering if perhaps rosè is one of those styles where there really is something out there for everyone (even if it just walks away with a modicum of your approval, and not an order for 6 cases…) :-)

  4. BernardNovember 10, 2015 at 1:40 pmReply

    Hi Marthélize,
    I haven’t had any of the Thirst range yet but will try to source some. You may have had the Mount Abora Safraan cinsaut as well most likely. This is truly a great ‘light red’ . This is probably some of the best bargains for your buck.
    Grenache also falls in this category for me and I’m told the maiden release from Spice Route is terrific in a similar price category though I also haven’t tried it yet.
    As far as Rosé goes : No comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


AEC v1.0.4
  • October 26, 2016RMB WineX 2016
  • October 29, 2016Season of Sauvignon Festival
  • November 1, 2016Prescient Chardonnay Public Tasting - Café Cru, Monte Casino
  • November 2, 2016Presecient Chardonnay Public Tasting - Protea Hotel Fire&Ice!
AEC v1.0.4
newlstter2 Get the biggest stories of the past fortnight sent directly to your inbox. subscribe

Wine magazine was published from October 1993 until September 2011 & now lives on in digital form as We cover everything to do with South African wine.

XSLT Plugin by Leo Jiang