Delightful South African Red

Today’s Story: Paserene

Paserene is a relatively new, small, and family operated winery founded by Martin Smith and Ndabe Mareda with the first vintage in 2013. The winery gets its name from the Latin word “Passeriformes”which is used to describe traveling birds including swifts and swallows, and Martin chose this name in homage of his winemaking ventures that took him around the world before ultimately returning home to start his own winery. Martin is a third generation winemaker from the small town of Ashton, and from an early age grew a passion for wine and knew becoming a winemaker was his dream. He first “worked” in the wine industry during a week-long study at Nuy Winery during school and traveled to Portugal to learn at Amorim Cork, though his broader experiences followed after graduating from Elsenburg Agricultural College with studies in viticulture and winemaking. Post-graduation, Martin worked briefly at Vriesenhof Vineyards before spending five years at Cosentino Winery in the Napa Valley. In 2006 Martin moved to Caldwell Winery and worked alongside renowned winemakers including Tim Mondavi and Philippe Melka, though around 2011 he received an offer to become the winemaker at Vilafonte back in South Africa and returned home.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Marathon

53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Petit Verdot, 5% Carménère; 14% ABV

The 2016 Marathon is medium ruby red in color and moderately transparent. This requires some time to breathe, but once it opens up the nose showcases aromas of blackberry, plum, blueberry, licorice, olive, tobacco, volcanic soil, crushed rock, green herbs, and underbrush. Once in the mouth, this wine displays notes of blackberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, red florals, loamy earth, mushroom, black pepper, cigar box, and dried cooking herbs. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $40 (though this is tough to get in the US and online shows a fairly broad range from $27-55 overseas). This is a high-quality South African wine that is both delicious and offered at a fair price. The bottle today is shared with me by two great friends who recently visited the winery. Pair this with grilled steak, game, veal, or spicy pork.

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