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The sommelier suggests… Cabernet Sauvignon by Keize Mumba

We invite a leading sommelier to pick a go-to, personal favourite grape variety or wine style.

Keize Mumba works as a sommelier for Grub & Vine restaurant and Culture Wine Bar in Cape Town. He produced his first wine, The Harp Red Blend 2017, last December, and is an associate taster for Platter’s South African Wine Guide.


I was born and raised in Zambia, a landlocked country unsuitable for vine-growing, so I grew up drinking beer, only discovering wine when I moved to Cape Town 10 years ago while searching for stories to tell – I used to write screenplays. The stories I learned behind every bottle inspired me to study wine, and to pursue a career as a sommelier.

My favourite wines are those with structure, power, balance, intensity, complexity – and the potential for longevity. And the epitome for me has to be Cabernet Sauvignon. Its small berries (and hence high ratio of pip to pulp) and thick skins enable it to produce wines with high acidity and tannin levels, and deep colour. But one of the grape’s most amazing traits is its ability to produce a quality wine with clear varietal identity, wherever it’s grown and however it’s vinified. Many other grape varieties struggle to achieve this level of consistency.

No wonder then that, even though Cabernet Sauvignon hails from Bordeaux, where it forms the backbone of the wines from the Left Bank communes of Médoc and Graves, it has been planted successfully across the globe. Indeed, it’s the world’s most widely planted wine grape variety. Here in South Africa, great Cabernets come from Stellenbosch on the slopes of the Helderberg and Simonsig mountains, which offer a variety of aspects, topography and less-fertile soils, helping the grape to slowly ripen its tannins and concentrate the aromas and flavours, while at the same time enabling it to retain acidity, resulting in wines that have balance, depth of flavour and ageing potential. There have been small plantings of Cabernet in cooler areas such as Hemel-en-Aarde, producing wines with herbal notes of eucalyptus, blackcurrant and tobacco leaf.

In South Africa, Cabernet Sauvignon not only makes great single-variety wines, but is also a great component in full-bodied Bordeaux blends, combined with Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot, where it contributes black fruits, herbaceousness, tannin and structure. It was the clear go-to style when I decided to make my own wine, working with Jeremy Walker at Grangehurst in Stellenbosch. Our The Harp Red Blend 2017 sees 49% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 31% Merlot and 20% Petit Verdot.

Meat dishes unsurprisingly provide some of the best pairings when it comes to serving Cabernet or Cabernet blends with food. The firm tannins bind with the protein in the dish, and the acidity will cut beautifully through any fatty elements. For a more unusual match, and for non-meat eaters, a young, vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon holds up well to the robust flavours in a spinach and ricotta ravioli served with ratatouille.

Discover Discover South African Cabernet Sauvignon: Keize’s three to try

These Stellenbosch wines illustrate what can be achieved with Cabernet Sauvignon in South Africa. Keermont, Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (£26.95-£29.50 Butlers Wine Cellar, Swig) is a bullish wine with cedar, graphite and leafy perfume, flavours of blackcurrant and black plum, smooth tannins and a black cherry finish – I have a glass beside me as I write!

Keermont Cabinet Sauvignon 2020

The Grangehurst, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (£24- £28.50 Good Wine Online, Rakq, Wine Utopia) is another favourite. A mature wine with a youthful profile, it should last another 15-20 years. Made from Heldeberg fruit, it offers black cherry, blueberry, cassis and chocolate, floral undertones and gentle tannins.

The Grangehurst, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Lastly, Erika Obermeyer’s Erika O, Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 combines power and restraint, with earthy, herbal undertones and luscious blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Full-bodied, it’s drinking well now but has a long life ahead.

Erika O, Cabernet Sauvignon 2019


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