Blend: 40% Malbec, 25% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Chamonix Wine Farm is nestled against Mont Rochelle, deep within the rich wine-growing valley of Franschhoek in the Western Cape. Formerly part of the historic La Cotte granted to the Huguenots in 1688, Chamonix today comprises some 750 acres. German-born Chris Hellinger purchased the farm in the early 1990s when it was predominantly an export fruit farm. With tenacity and vigor, a replanting program began, steadily replanting fruit trees with noble French grape varieties. An underground cellar was built drawing upon Hellinger’s engineering background and old world principles. An underground passage leads through the cellar up into the Blacksmith’s Cottage, built in the late 1700s, which now houses the Tasting Room and Sales Department
Originally named Franschhoek meaning the “French Corner” because it was home to the influx of French Huguenots, today the valley contains many historic cellars and is an important tourist location because of its proximity to Cape Town.
This valley falls to the southeast of Paarl and is enclosed on three sides by towering mountains. Streams from the slopes flow down to the valley floor, converging to form the Berg River. The area excels in the production of full-bodied reds.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended red wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged resulting in a wide variety of red wine styles. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a red wine blend variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.
How to Serve Red Wine
A common piece of advice is to serve red wine at “room temperature,” but this suggestion is imprecise. After all, room temperature in January is likely to be quite different than in August, even considering the possible effect of central heating and air conditioning systems. The proper temperature to aim for is 55° F to 60° F for lighter-bodied reds and 60° F to 65° F for fuller-bodied wines.
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Once opened and re-corked, a bottle stored in a cool, dark environment (like your fridge) will stay fresh and nicely drinkable for a day or two. There are products available that can extend that period by a couple of days. As for unopened bottles, optimal storage means keeping them on their sides in a moderately humid environment at about 57° F. Red wines stored in this manner will stay good – and possibly improve – for anywhere from one year to multiple decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning long-term storage of your reds, seek the advice of a wine professional.