Exclusive to The Wine Society
Keep Me In Your Heart
|Wine of Origin:||Simonsberg-Paarl|
Ever heard of ‘The French Paradox’…? The phrase came into being in the early 1990s after research indicated that inhabitants of the South-West of France, who traditionally consume a diet high in saturated fats, have statistically fewer cases of death from coronary heart disease. France apparently surpasses many countries in average life expectancy. The French allegedly live longer, with studies indicating that this phenomenon may be due to the cardioprotective benefits of the red wine they consume, with specific referral to the hearty examples produced in the region of Madiran.
Rick asks: ‘Can you see the connection to the title of this exclusive ‘Special Release’ yet…?’
Scientists have been exploring the health benefits of red wine for years. Firstly, red wines contain around ten times more polyphenols than white wines due, primarily, to the fact that the juice in red grapes stays in contact with the skins for an extended period and therefore extracts higher levels of colour and tannin.
These active compounds in red wine, including polyphenols, resveratrol, anthocyanins and quercetin, have proven cardioprotective properties, helping to protect the heart from tissue damage after a stroke, decreasing cholesterol accumulation and regulating blood pressure levels.
With its roots in the Madiran appellation, Tannat is now considered the signature red variety in Uruguay, whilst in South Africa the grape represents an insignificant 0.12% of the total vineyard area, with only a handful of producers exploiting the grape commercially.
Tannat (as the name might suggest) produces wines that are full bodied and tannic. With their intense purple-black colour, they are often touted as the ‘healthiest’ of all reds due to their high concentration of resveratrol. The measurement of the compound shows that the wines have an average of 2.7mg/litre, a much higher value than reported for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and the thin-skinned Pinot Noir.
In order to exercise a degree of balance here, it should be noted that resveratrol is not a component exclusive to red grapes. It is also present in raspberries, blueberries, pistachios and peanuts where it can be added as a supplement to a balanced diet.
Enough about the benefits to the heart, Rick says ‘Tell ‘em about the wine’…
During lockdown, with the inability to travel (2021 was the first year Rick was absent from the Cape since 1994), the South African wine industry has had to travel to him. Using one of his long-standing contacts in the Winelands, he has tapped into a rich vein of experimental parcels being produced by the talented Johnnie Calitz in the Glen Carlou cellar. This exceptional Tannat is but one of a series of new Liberator releases sourced from here although, by Rick’s own admission, blending wine 6,000 miles away from the cellar presents its own logistical challenges.
The wine is big, solid and lives up to the grape’s reputation, yet is equally supple and already approachable. It could, however, be expected to last well into the next decade, for those who are patient enough.
Given the title of this release, it seemed appropriate to adorn the label with a painting by the British artist, Marcus Stone (1840-1921) and his work entitled “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”. Stone, who lived in Holland Park, London was already exhibiting at the Royal Academy before he was 18 years old. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1877. His work was mostly devoted to this particular style of dainty sentiment, treated with a sense of charm and refinement.