April 12th: Linton Park Cafe Cabernet 2011

Origin: South Africa
Year: 2011
Alc/vol 13.5%

A few weeks ago we were approached by a PR company who offered us the chance to review a red wine they said was notorious for its pairing with dark chocolate. We insisted that here at ChocolateMission we wouldn't ever classify ourselves as wine experts, however we were assured that our expertise in chocolate would more than make up for our amateur wine tasting palettes  Who were we to argue!? Under the usual ChocolateMission agreement that we could say we wanted, we soon received a rather cool package through the post that contained a 750ml bottle of Linton Park Cafe Cabernet 2011 and a small bar of 70% cocoa dark chocolate.

Out of the box the bottle looked nice and we liked the simplicity of the labelling - this was obviously no cheap bottle of wine. The copious lighting used for our photography may suggest otherwise. but the wine itself was a rich, dark coloured red and left a lasting impression on the glass when swirled around (we hear thats a good thing haha!!). Aroma wise the wine offered strong notes of wood, red fruits and roasted coffee. As suggested we paired this wine with the dark chocolate that accompanied it, each taking a glassful of the wine and a few blocks of the 70% unbranded chocolate for testing.

Given our usual field of reviewing one would have suspected that it would have been the chocolate that left the ChocolateMission reviewers coming back for more. Surprisingly this wasn't the case - the chocolate was frankly rather average - a pretty standard dark chocolate offering that would pale in comparison to the higher quality 70% offerings we have reviewed previously. Instead it was the wine that left a strong, positive impression on the review panel - it only took a glass or two before wine tasting expertise skills were discovered :-) Enthusiastically, the panel lauded the wine for it's 'strong, bold, mature red fruit character' and the majority loved the coffee notes that came through strongly as suggested by the aromas. The team weren't quite sure whether the cocoa flavours they could detect derived from the wine or the chocolate they were pairing it with, but nonetheless it was perceived as a high quality wine full of character.

Overall like we said at the very start of the review we aren't wine experts here at ChocolateMission so you can this review however seriously you wish. Ultimately this was a wine that was enjoyed by the majority of the panel that tasted it so from an amateur wine tasting point of view we can give it a ChocolateMission thumbs up. We unanimously agreed we would buy this wine again should a night in with a decent bottle of wine be the order of the evening. We will however be choosing our own chocolate next time though :-)

8.6 out of 10