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What makes a wine versatile when it comes to pairing it with food? Is it the cultivar? The style it is made in? The temperature it is served at? The vintage?

Usually, a combination of the above.

Some cultivars are easier to please food-wise than others, but it often is not only about the cultivar, but also the style of the wine. In general ‘n Cabernet Sauvignon might be more serious and complex than the mellower Merlot and Chardonnay might be fuller than Sauvignon Blanc. On the one hand the cultivar lends itself better to a specific style and on the other hand, the style the winemaker decides on, determine the ultimate taste of the wine.

We have experienced that a well-chilled glass of our Leopard’s Leap Chardonnay Pinot Noir, works beautifully with crisp salads and seafood, while it makes an excellent partner to something more hearty like roasted duck or liver parfait when it is served at a more mellow temperature.

And the vintage? Well, the vintage is the one thing that really makes wine special.  Even when you use the same cultivar, from the same site and you use the exact same wine making recipe, two vintages will not be exactly the same. Colder growing conditions might give more elegance, warmer temperatures more fruit, a dry, windy season can result in more  complexity… One vintage will make the wine accessible at an earlier  stage, another will mature better.

We have just released the 2016 vintage of both the Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The preceding winter had plenty of rain and cold units ensuring the all-important vine dormancy. Heat waves combined with water shortages in early summer, resulting in a smaller harvest, but more concentration in the berries. The exceptional flavours and complexity of the 2016 red wines make them versatile choices for the dinner table and resulted in both the Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and Leopard’s Leap Merlot receiving Gold Medals from the Gold Wine Awards.

Ready to make a few inspired food and wine choices? See our notes below and click on the links for some recipe suggestions!

The 2016 Leopard’s Leap  Cabernet Sauvignon offers dark fruit aromas, a supple palate and well-integrated oak tannins, ensuring fullness and a lingering finish.  Enjoy this wine with rich red meat dishes such as Beef Bourguignon and Oxtail. Savour with fruit-cake or other desserts containing hints of cinnamon or cloves. Do try the delectable Hot Cuppa Cab wine cocktail!

The 2016 Leopard’s Leap Merlot charms with prominent red fruit aromas – mulberry and dark plum – with a touch of strawberry. Subtle hints of toasted almonds and nutmeg aromas follow through on the palate. Enjoy this Merlot with a roasted tomato-based pasta, lasagne, smoked pork fillet, gourmet pizza with anchovies and olives and, for the more adventurous, experiment with dark chocolate inspired desserts.

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