MORE than any other beverage, wine seems always intertwined with stories of passion and romance. At Vrede en Lust, outside Paarl the love story behind every label is part of the estate's charm.
Vrede en Lust (from the Dutch "peace and passion") turns 325 this year, tracing its history back to first owner Jacques de Savoye, a Flemish merchant who arrived at the Cape with the French Huguenots. The romance between De Savoye's daughter Margarita and the freed slave Christoffel Snyman inspired the naming of the Marguerite Chardonnay.
A Gold Veritas winner last year, this one is worth getting all romantic about – 11 months in oak gives it a golden hue, and its butterscotch and hazelnut flavours are well balanced with spice and lime.
The estate's current owner is IT entrepreneur Dana Buys, and his daughters Sarah and Jess each have a wine named after them, while his love for family is also expressed in the wine named for his grandfather Boet Eramus (yes, that Boet Erasmus).
Jess is a light but rich pink pinotage/shiraz blend, a lovely summer wine with strawberry and melon flavours, while fine tribute is paid to oupa in a deep red and rustic Bordeaux blend, balancing spice and fruit in a big wine.
Dating back to Margarita and later female owners of the farm, Vrede en Lust is a very female-dominated estate – from winemaker Susan Erasmus, the Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2007, to the tasting room staff in their trademark red dresses. The Red Lady Merlot is made in tribute to this feminine influence and the 2013 tasted recently is a lovely clear red with soft, rounded cherry fullness on the nose and palate.
The viognier was the highlight of a Vrede en Lust food-and-wine pairing at Colonial Kitchen. The kitchen wizards served the viognier with dessert: meringue with gorgonzola cream and spicy fig-apricot sauce.
The odd-sounding pairing was a match made in heaven for a superb wine, and a great example of how food and wine together bring each other alive. Viognier is known as the most "perfumey" white wine, and this one's jasmine, lavender and cinnamon notes heralded a full-bodied flowery but dry wine, with the tang of blue cheese and dried fruit, and the hint of sweetness from meringue, bringing all the flavours out at their best.
Do also look out for the Casey's Ridge Sauvignon Blanc, a zesty winner from Elgin grapes; and the Mocholate Malbec, served lightly chilled, a great summer red with just hints of coffee and chocolate.
These are boutique wines, not likely to be found in supermarkets – available direct from the estate or in Port Elizabeth from For the Love of Wine, Colonial Kitchen and WineZani.