Discover the Hidden Hero of Wines

Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman—these are the superheroes we all know and love. But what about Aquaman? He’s been around just as long and possesses incredible abilities like superhuman strength, intelligence, durability, endurance, speed, agility, and even total telepathic control over aquatic life. Oh, and did I mention he also has magic powers? It wasn’t until 2023 that I even discovered Aquaman’s existence, and now I’ve found the wine equivalent of this mighty superhero right here.

So, let’s embark on a journey of wine exploration through observation. Just like deciphering the secrets of a wine, we’ll start by analyzing its color. This particular wine presents a pale ruby color, indicating that it comes from a thinner-skinned grape—a delicate and sensitive variety. Now, let’s give it a sniff. I detect notes of rose, ripe strawberry, plum, subtle anise, and allspice, with a hint of damp clay in the background. These inviting spice aromas suggest that the wine may have been aged in large barrels. The ripe fruit aromas further hint at a warm climate.

As I take a sip, I discover that it’s a lighter-bodied wine with modest tannins and a delightful burst of acidity. Its dry and floral finish lingers on the palate, accompanied by the subtle taste of candied hibiscus. This is truly a wine to savor. But do you know which grape variety we’re indulging in?

Could it be the celebrated Pinot Noir? Perhaps the bold Cabernet Sauvignon? Maybe the mysterious Senso or the exquisite Nebiolo? Let’s turn to wine expert Christine Marcellio, the resident master of wine at Wine Folly, for some assistance. Through her expert guidance, we unravel the mystery.

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As it turns out, this grape variety exhibits a preference for warm climates, as indicated by its ripe fruit flavors. Yet, it retains an elegant and perfumed character—an intriguing combination. Both Nebiolo and Senso can thrive in warm regions and display elegance, but if we consider the wine’s modest tannins, Senso emerges as the likely contender. Despite its relative obscurity, you may have encountered Senso in blends, particularly if you appreciate the enchanting rosés of Provence and the captivating reds of Côtes du Rhône. Senso brings forth elegance, perfume, and acidity. It shares similarities with Pinot Noir but thrives in warmer climates, thanks to its ability to withstand the heat.

Once popular in the warmer regions of South Africa, Senso’s high yields and drought resistance led to it being crossed with Pinot Noir, resulting in the creation of Pinotage in the 1920s. Over time, however, the focus shifted towards Cabernet Sauvignon, and Senso vineyards became less common. Nevertheless, you can still stumble upon some venerable dry farm bush vines across the country, known for producing the most concentrated and perfumed wines that truly shine as single varietal bottlings.

Now, let’s unveil the identity of the wine in our glasses today. It is the 2020 vintage of Natafale Senso—a wine that has been underappreciated for far too long, much like Aquaman himself. This hidden gem hails from the Western Cape in Simonsberg-Paarl, a classic and renowned wine-growing region in South Africa. Although the winery has a long history, it returned to producing wine in 2005, making it a fairly recent addition to the scene.

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This wine, in my opinion, is the perfect companion for a delightful summer evening. Pair it with simple, uncomplicated fare like bread, cheese, and pickles, and you’ll experience pure bliss. If you enjoyed this tasting experience, let us know by leaving a comment for Christine or me. And remember, if you’re eager to continue your wine education through the joyful act of tasting, consider becoming a member of the Wine Folly Club. It’s the perfect way to learn about wine while indulging in its flavors.

Until we meet again, happy tasting!


If you want to discover the hidden hero of wines, visit Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.

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