Alcohol is currently off the table at all restaurants, but leading sommelier Joseph Dhafana shares his top seven wines for oenophiles to enjoy at home.

Alcohol is currently off the table at all restaurants, but leading sommelier Joseph Dhafana shares his top seven wines for oenophiles to enjoy at home.

After tasting wine for the first time in 2010, Zimbabwe-born Joseph T Dhafana has gone to impressive lengths to expand his wine knowledge. He studied at the Cape Wine Academy in Stellenbosch, obtained the global Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3 Award in Wine, qualified as a wine judge through Michael Fridjohn’s Wine Judging Academy and became certified with both the South African Sommeliers Association and the Court of Master Sommeliers. 

It’s no surprise that in 2014 this driven individual was snapped up by La Colombe Restaurant, where he serves as Head Sommelier. 

As alcohol is currently off the table at La Colombe – and all eateries – we asked Joseph to share his top seven wines for oenophiles to enjoy at home.

‘Firstly, I’d like to encourage supporting local, as much as possible, as we all know that the industry has really been crippled by Covid-19. I see no reason for us to be embracing foreign wines at the moment, since we need to support these guys,’ he urged.

‘We have more than 3,000 wine producers in the Western Cape [so] it depends on the style which you personally enjoy. The best wine is that which you can have second glass of, and be able to engage in conversation and also have a meal with,’ Joseph expanded.

That said, here are his seven suggestions.

Mullineux Syrah

‘This is a blend of different parcels from the Swartland, six to eight. I like the wine making technique, with minimum intervention and wild yeast. The wine is medium to full, with peppery notes. Elegant, I’d say. Good enough to complement red meat and dishes.’

De Toren Fusion V

‘If one really enjoys Bordeaux blends, I’d go with De Toren Fusion V – any vintage. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and a bit of Malbec. It’s such a rich, full, elegant wine, and one of the ultra-premium Bordeaux-style blends we have in the country, for those who enjoy a bolder wine. Again, it’s really good with red meats.’

Simelia Merlot

‘I haven’t been able to enjoy most of the Merlots made in South Africa, purely because they get harvested quite early. They’re quite tart, and they give this green sensation on the palate of unripe berries. But Wellington has a warmer climate, so Merlot can reach optimum ripeness while it’s still got acidity, which keeps it together. Simelia has got great body. You can have it with lamb shank and sirloin.’

Eenzaamheid Vin Blanc

‘This is a Paarl blend with Chenin Blanc, Clairette Blanchet and couple of other varieties. It’s quite light and crispy, with brilliant acidity. For those sunny winter days, you need a wine like this to enjoy, as it’s light and elegant. In fact you can even have it with soups. The acidity also works very well with rice sauces.’

Art of Creation Chardonnay

‘For those who enjoy Chardonnays, this is from the Hemel and Aarde Valley. For me, it’s a Chardonnay that shows a bit of character … tropical fruits, with more of that acidity that cuts through any rich white sauces. It can work very well with creamed mussels or poultry dishes. It’s a bit heavy price wise, but such a lovely Chardonnay.’

Mosi ‘Tinashe’ Chenin Blanc

‘This Chenin Blanc from the Swartland was made by this Zimbabwean refugee turned winemaker. I’m talking about me! It shows character and variety and expresses the terroir, what Swartland soils give, because I believe wine is made in the vineyard. It’s got all those quince, apricot, mineral elements and less oak. Minimum interventions, and also wild yeast. You can pair it with poultry and seafood dishes, or even salad.’

Silverthorn The Green Ma

‘We do tend to celebrate, so we might as well throw in a bubbly. The Green Man is a 100% Chardonnay, quite yeasty with a bread-brioche character and zesty acidity. It’s quite creamy on the palate. Excellent! It can match some of the Champagnes that we get from France. You can enjoy it as an aperitif, or after having your meal … as palate cleanser before coffee. It’s also great with crab.’

This post first appeared in Toyota Connect in August 2020.