Protea Wines

Protea WinesYou Can Bring Me Flowers

Protea [PROH-tee-uh] (sometimes also called sugarbush) is the national flower of South Africa. It was named after the Greek god Proteus, who could change his form at will, because the flowers have such a wide variety of forms.

Taking its inspiration from the flower, Protea the winery is on a mission to make wines that dare to be exotic and beautiful in every way.

The winery is located in the Franschhoek [FRAHNSH-hoook] Valley, about 45 miles due east of Cape Town on South Africa’s western coast. Franschhoek, which translates to “French Corner,” was first settled by French Huguenots in the latter part of the seventeenth century, but quality wine production there is a relatively recent phenomenon. Encircled by the mountains that form the Drakestein Valley, Franschhoek is a highly-regarded, cool-climate wine ward (growing area), which historically has particularly favored white-wine grapes, especially sémillon, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc.

A popular tourist destination, Franschhoek draws visitors for its many fine-dining restaurants as well as its wines.

Protea is especially proud of their bottles. They were designed by Cape Town native Mark Eisen. An internationally recognized fashion designer, he has now turned his attention to artistic glass. Using an advanced screen-printing process in which nontoxic ink fuses with the glass at a very high temperature, Eisen was able to transfer his evocative designs directly onto and wrapped around the bottle.

Protea encourages their customers to repurpose rather than merely recycle the bottles, using them to hold floral displays, olive oil, candles, etc.

Protea also hosts a blog on their Web site. The blog is for “social, adventurous, and creative women.” It provides accessible wine knowledge, simple entertaining tips, and easy crafting ideas, giving women “the confidence to entertain affordably and sustainably.”

Protea Chenin Blanc 2014

This 100% Chenin Blanc is light-blond in the glass. It shows aromas of fresh, crisp fruit, especially citrus. This continues on to the palate, where you’ll find hints of pear, grapefruit, honeysuckle, and melon. The wine is medium bodied, with well-integrated supporting acidity. An excellent choice for the warm weather just around the corner.

Try this with Citrus Terrine with Orange Coulis, Frisée Salad with Bacon and Poached Egg, or Scallops with Endive.

Protea Red Blend 2012

Happily, pinotage, South Africa’s workhorse red, is not to be found anywhere near this blend of 53% cabernet sauvignon and 47% merlot. This medium-bodied, ruby-hued wine starts out with delicate suggestions of tea and espresso on the nose. The flavor basket of dark stone fruits is augmented by cocoa-like tannins and a medium-length finish.

This wine would like to go with Chicken in Red Wine, Rabbit with Mustard Sauce, or Steak Frites, a truly classic pairing.

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