Joostenberg Little J Red 2017
Pair with Asian foods, modern fusion cuisine and Italian dishes.
Winemaking is not about systems and recipes. Not if you want to make distinctive wines. Everything done at Joostenberg's winery (and vineyards) is aimed at ensuring that their wines are both delicious and true to their origin.
Since great wines begin with great grapes, Joostenberg's aim is to grow the best possible grapes in as "natural" a way as possible – hence organics, dry-farming, etc. They simply then guide the wines through the winemaking process without the interference of unnecessary additives or modifications. Some call this "minimalist winemaking".
Flanked by majestic mountains on either side, the Paarl district is a valley whose most valuable water source is the Berg River. While sometimes during dry and hot summers, the vineyards in the valley need supplemental irrigation, those vineyards on the eastern slopes where water retention is better, aren't irrigated.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.