It has been than 48 years since the first Portuguese grape variety was planted at De Krans by the Nel family. Since then, because of the the similarities in terroir between the Klein Karoo and the Douro Valley in Portugal, these vineyards have flourished. As a result, De Krans automatically gravitated towards producing exceptional quality port-style wines, winning multiple top accolades and managed to carve a name for itself through the years as being one of the leading port-style wine producers in the country.
For many wine drinkers the idea of a port-style wine is quite daunting – there are the different styles and the different names, the dark bottles, the different social occasions, the myth that port style wines are only for the older generation, confusion regarding the type of glass to use (the small sherry glass! ), and finally, the unique and foreign grape varieties used. Mostly, like anything else in life, it is arguably the fear of the unknown that prevents people, especially the younger generation, from drinking and enjoying port-style wines. A port-style wine is sophisticated, classy and an exceptionally complex as well as an artistically crafted product, which should be valued and is in essence accessible to all.
The answer lies in the preservation of the traditions, but also in experimentation with the style and the drinking occasion. If you don’t know port-style wines, buy yourself a bottle – taste, learn, experience and tell your friends about it. If this past year taught us anything, it is that life is short and community is key – and port-style wines are all about community – coming together, celebrating together, cooking together and simply being together. Add it to your slow cooking leg of lamb, make a delicious cocktail with it for your friends, serve it with a cheeseboard or some brownies – its versatility truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
When looking at port-style wines and where and when to use these wines, it is impossible to think of cooking with port without mentioning the De Krans Cape Ruby, a traditional style of port with the name of the port referring to its brilliant ruby colour. A Cape Ruby is a non-vintage port-style wine, indicating a blend of different vintages to produce a well-rounded wine. The wine is smooth and structured and has velvety tannins to compliment the ripe plum, blue and red berries with a touch of cinnamon, spice and violets. Go ahead and add the De Krans Premium Cape Ruby generously to your potjie or any meat dish in a slow cooker – guaranteed to take your meat dish to that next level. The Cape Ruby also pairs well with traditional Cape bobotie, waterblommetjie –bredie, rustic pastas and hearty soups.
If you are looking to enjoy your port-style wine either on its own or paired with a yummy dessert, you definitely can’t go wrong with the De Krans Cape Vintage , which pairs beautifully with a baked dessert like chocolate fondant, a piece of dark chocolate, or well matured cheese. Vintage ports also pair well with Karoo lamb potjie, venison pie or roasted vegetable lasagna. This port-style wine has a deep purple red colour, indicative of its intense, full and rich palate of red fruits, dried prunes, cocoa and spice. Tannins are more prominent in this port and this style is made to bottle age or can be drunk at an early age as well. The Cape Vintage can keep for approximately 20 years in the bottle when stored correctly. This port-style wine is an excellent, value-for-money and quality port-style wine.
Of all the different port-style wines, the De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release is probably the most unique and different from the other port-style wines. It is named after its amber/tawny colour, a colour acquired by spending an average of eight years ageing in an oak barrel. Due to this ageing and slow oxidation, tannins are soft and fruity flavours have developed into nutty, toffee and caramel flavours. De Krans Cape Tawny Limited Release is an excellent alternative to sherry and best enjoyed slightly chilled. The Cape Tawny not only pairs well with baked winter puddings like malva pudding, crème brûlée, as well as baked cheese with drizzled honey, nuts and rosemary – experiment with other food pairings including brown onion soup, loin of pork stuffed with dried fruit, or with prawns prepared in a light Malaysian style.
The De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve is the ‘crème de la crème’ of port styles and is also the flagship De Krans port-style wine. Similar to the Cape Vintage, it is made from a single vintage, but only the very best grapes are selected, followed by a second selection process whereby only the best ports made from the traditional port varieties are blended in one vat to produce the final product. This port has a very aromatic nose of ripe red berries and cherries, stewed prunes and dark chocolate, and is a dark black colour with a plum red rim. This port-style wine from De Krans has won numerous Platter 5-star ratings, Veritas Double Gold medals and various other accolades in the past 2 decades, including being named the best fortified wine in the South African Wine Report, by British Wine Master Tim Atkin. To truly experience and appreciate the quality of this exceptional wine, the Cape Vintage Reserve is best enjoyed on its own. Alternatively, it pairs well with matured cheese. In addition, the Cape Vintage Reserve also makes an excellent gift, seeing as it can be stored and matured for up to 40 years (in favourable cool conditions, with the bottles lying down).
Port-style wines have also taken up their rightful place as delicious and innovative cocktail mixers. With this idea in mind, De Krans produced the Original Cape Pink, the first Pink port in South Africa in 2008 and it has been a great success since. As the name suggests it is pink in colour, which is achieved by removing the juice from the skins of the grapes early during the production process. In comparison to other port-style wines, it is a bit drier, as well as a bit lower in alcohol (around 16%) and has fresh berry flavours as well as a hint of candy floss and a floral note. It works well with ginger ale and mint leaves, or mix it with ginger beer, bitters and a shot of gin. The options are endless here and there really is no wrong answer – it’s all about playing around and trying different options.
Another good example of a cocktail is the De Krans Espresso martini, using the De Krans Original Espresso. While this wine is not strictly speaking a recognized port-style wine, it is made from two Portuguese varieties, Tinta Barocca and Touriga Nacional. Instead, it is classified under our dessert wines and has a coffee, chocolate and spice flavour, owed to the heavily toasted oak with which it was in contact with. Whip up your own Espresso Martini by mixing three parts espresso dessert wine, one part espresso (cold), and one part vodka. Shake it up, decant into an elegant cocktail glass and garnish with coffee beans. A guaranteed showstopper.
Recommended retail prices:
Cape Ruby (R95), Cape Pink (R95), Cape Vintage (R125), Original Espresso 375ml (R95), Cape Tawny (R259), Cape Vintage Reserve (R375)
These port-style wines are available in most liquor outlets in South Africa, as well as directly from the farm. For more information on De Krans and its interesting range of wines and port-style wines, or to shop online, visit our website http://www.dekrans.co.za.