40 Wines 40 Days Recap 3: Racy & Refined Reds

40wines40days (redo)

The last #40Wines40Days post covered the wild & wondrous white wines I tasted from South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, so now it’s time to recap the racy & refined reds that I got to sip at the tasting. Before we get to the tasting though, how about we start off with a little “Effervescent Education” first? For the uninitiated, Effervescent Education is The Bubbleista’s special way of dropping knowledge.

You may have noticed in previous posts that I often like to slide in some knowledge or info on a subject wherever I can, and you may be wondering why I do that. Well, wine can be a little (okay, maybe more than a little?) intimidating sometimes, and it’s really important to me that anyone at any knowledge level can come to this site and feel right at home. The more approachable wine (or any subject, for that matter) is, the more a person is able to enjoy it. And it is common knowledge that The Bubbleista is about enjoying experiences to. the. FULLEST.

So if you’re up for learning a little something, read on. If you just want to skip down to the tasting reviews segment of the post, that’s cool too. All readers are welcome {wink}.


Some wines are named for the grapes used to make them  (i.e. Chardonnay) and other wines are named after the region in which they are made (i.e. champagne, which is made in the Champagne region of France, but is often made with Chardonnay grapes. Interesting, right?). This tasting was based on grape varietals.

I had quite a bit to wine about... {photo credit: Davon D. E. Hatchett}

I had quite a bit to wine about… {photo credit: Davon D. E. Hatchett}

Although there are hundreds of grape varietals in the world today, their are those that are denoted as the “noble” grape varieties (it’s generally debated whether there are 6 or 7 varietals, but that’s a discussion for another day). These grapes are designated as noble because they have been pinpointed as the varieties that consistently produce the best wines; have historically been used to produce wine for centuries; and are the most prolific in terms of growth.

The 4 reds noble varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Pinot Noir; and Shiraz (Syrah). This tasting had them all except Merlot, plus one or two unconventional options. Enough education; it’s time to sip.


There were 10 red wines that were poured for the tasting, but I’m only going to highlight my 5 favorites. If you’re interested in the other wines I tasted but didn’t review in this post, follow me on Instagram where I’ll post mini-tasting notes.

South Africa

{image courtesy of Cape Ardor South African Wine Importers}

{image courtesy of Cape Ardor South African Wine Importers}

2013 Diemersfontein Pinotage $14.00

Apparently, Pinotage has something of a “love it or hate it” reputation. It’s a grape varietal created in 1925 that was made by crossing Pinot Noir with Hermitage (also known as “Cinsault”), hence the portmanteau “pinotage.” It has experienced a lot of criticism because of having been described at times as tasting like “acetone” or “paint.” It’s reputation has been slowly improving over the last decade or so as some South African winemakers has banded together to create more skillfully crafted Pinotages.

So what did I think? Actually, I liked it–a lot. It had a very distinct flavor profile form what you might expect from a Pinot Noir. Pinotage flavors and aromas may include:

  • purple fruits (plums)
  • black fruits (blackberries)
  • red raspberry
  • tobacco
  • bacon
  • earthy
  • smoke

The Diemersfontein was very rich and round, and tasted of fresh brewed coffee and bacon fat, with ripe plummy flavors. The aroma smelled of coffee and chocolate, and the tannins were nice and soft making it easily sippable.

{image credit Stark-Condé}

{image credit Stark-Condé}

2010 Stark Condé Cabernet Sauvignon Three Pines (Stellenbosch, SA) $40.00

This was a deeply traditional expression of what it means to drink Cab Sauv. Dark plum, stewed blackberries, and back currant flavors. The black currant was echoed on the nose and it was full-bodied with full, firm tannins.

New Zealand

Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir {image courtesy of Otago Daily Times wine review}

Fromm La Strada Pinot Noir {image courtesy of Otago Daily Times wine review}

2008 Fromm Pinot Noir La Strada $30.00

The Fromm La Strada is the oldest Pinot in New Zealand, and the experienced wine making definitely showed up in the wine glass. Aromas of black cherry, strawberry, and blackberry pie flow from the glass of this ripe and fruit-driven wine. It was soft, rich, and balanced with baking spices and blackberry flavors. I really loved this one.

Southern Australia

Lovely Cabernet Suavignons: The Mitolo Serpico and The Standish

Lovely Cabernet Suavignons: The Mitolo Serpico and The Standish

2007 Mitolo Cabernet Sauvignon Serpico $58.00

What a flavor bomb this one was! It was a rich and concentrated expression of the grape, and the wine tasting host explained why: the wine was made with the Italian “passito method,” meaning that the grapes were “raisined”–that is, dried–prior to making the wine.

The aromas included red cherries, licorice, smoke, spice, and tobacco. On the palate the flavors were full of cherries, vanilla, licorice, spice, and even lovely floral notes. The tannins build on the finish as you continue to drink, but the wine still manages to be quite balanced.

2009 The Standish Shiraz, Barossa Valley $135.00

This wine was just as powerful and concentrated and the price tag might suggest! It had a lot co complexity but was still nicely structured. The bouquet smacks you right across the nose with aromas of  plums, blackberries, licorice, spice, and slightly smoky bacon. The meatiness of the bacon was followed through on the palate as well as the flavors of plum and full, ripe blackberry. The finish was very long with the flavors dancing on the tongue for quite some time after you were done drinking.


Here were my takeaways from the red wine portion of the tasting:

  • Southern Australia is a great region for well made red wines
  • I really liked the wines from Mitolo Wines in general and I’ll definitely be exploring their portfolio of wines even more. I’m particularly interested in trying their Jester Sangiovese Rosé; Malbec; and 7th Son Grenache Shiraz
  • South Africa is a wine region that I definitely plan discovering more wines from as well as visiting. The winemakers are serious about creating excellent wines and I plan to partake of as many as I can

Wondering what my absolute single favorite red of the night was? Without question, the Mitolo Cabernet Sauvignon Serpico. With its full, rich, and fruity flavor profile, I would serve this one with everything from barbecue to burgers to steak. Sharing it, however, might be slightly problematic.

Are you a red wine drinker? Which of these reds are you the most intrigued to try?