Descriptions of wine and food pairings tend to concentrate on savoury dishes, while dessert matches are generally covered in less detail. Restaurants will typically offer one or two wines, such as a Sauternes or a Passito di Pantelleria, for example, to complement cheesecakes, mousses and a variety of other puddings. However, the term "dessert" covers such a wide variety of flavours and textures, that each one really warrants its own individual wine match to do justice to this category. Consequently, a demi-sec Champagne, for example, may be more appropriate for fresh berries and some honey-flavoured puddings than an unctuously sweet dessert wine.
Chocolate, because it is often so intense, usually pairs well with strongly-flavoured wines, such as aged Tawny Port and Orange Muscat, but a light chocolate mousse can be complemented by a similarly light wine style, for example an Asti Spumante. So, the general advice often given regarding matching wine with food based on strength of flavour and "body" or "weight", applies equally well with wine and chocolate. Therefore, a rich, dry red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, can be a good match for dark, bitter chocolate due to the high cocoa and low sugar content in the chocolate. One company that firmly believes in this is Linton Park Wines.
The 300-year old South African estate has 11 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, among its 84 hectares of vines growing on rich, well-drained granite oakleaf soils. The vineyards are located on the slopes of the Groenberg Mountain, at over 500m above sea level where the temperature is cooler and the rainfall higher than in the surrounding regions. Other grapes are also planted, including Ruby Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Award-winning winemaker Hennie Huskisson, who honed his skills in South Africa and also in France with Château Margaux, has created a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine which brings out many desirable qualities associated with this grape variety, including notes of chocolate and coffee. Café Cabernet 2011 has been aged in carefully selected new French and American oak barrels for a minimum of 6 months, to draw out these specific aromas and flavours.
The deep red colour of this wine suggests deep rich aromas and flavours which do not disappoint. Notes of mocha, blackcurrants, plums and berries are evident on the nose and palate with a mushroom-like earthiness present too. Dark chocolate and coffee flavours come through strongly on the mid-palate and the finish is smooth with soft vanilla overtones and decent length. There is a good level of acidity and well-balanced tannins which will soften and develop further as the wine ages over the next 5-10 years, although it can certainly be drunk now. The alcohol level at 13.5% ABV also lends weight and power. This will help the wine cope with strongly-flavoured or rich food, including dark chocolate mousse, but also many savoury dishes such as roast venison or lamb for which this wine would make a perfect accompaniment. Of course, you could drink a bottle of Café Cabernet 2011 on its own or with a bar of dark bitter chocolate. Indeed, internal taste tests concluded that chocolate with 70% cocoa content is the best match for this wine.
Café Cabernet 2011, an IWSC Bronze medal winner and Decanter Commended, is excellent value for money and is available in the UK for £8.98 from online supplier TheDrinkShop.com Ltd.. The labelling is modern, fresh, uncluttered yet informative and likely to appeal to a wide cross-section of wine drinkers. So with Easter coming up, if you are looking for a wine to accompany your Sunday lunch or help wash down those chocolate eggs, this elegant expression of Cabernet Sauvignon could be the one for you.