{wine} Van Loveren’s Retief Reserve 2018: an ode to winter and wine-making

Finally, a bottle of red wine I can hibernate with all through the fierce Cape winter. Van Loveren‘s Retief Reserve 2018 is so much more than just a wine. It’s a reminder of heritage and history, and of a thousand reasons why Van Loveren is South Africa’s leading family-owned winery.


Van Loveren lies very close to my heart. Only a stone’s throw from where my mother grew up on the neighbouring farm, I always return to the Robertson area with a tinge of happy nostalgia in my heart.

I’ve spent many hours walking through Jean Retief’s incredible garden landscape, always spending an extra heartbeat in front of the tangled tree. I never pass by the tiny little Goudmyn school without stopping for a peek in the windows, where my mom went to school with the four cousins. 

I was absolutely thrilled when I recently received a bottle of Van Loveren‘s Retief Reserve 2018, with its beautifully embossed red cannas a true feature on the label. You could only possibly understand the breathtaking beauty of that emulated scene if you have driven down the lane to Van Loveren.

To read my review on Van Loveren’s Perlé de Jean Pinot Grigio Rosé, please click here!

To read my review on Van Loveren’s Rhino Run wines, please click here!


From 1937 Van Loveren has been making wine. In the early years sweet wines and wine for brandy was made, and later when the 2nd generation Nico and Wynand joined Hennie and the winery was modernised, they started making noble cultivars to sell to the wholesale trade.

It was towards the late 1970’s when farmers in the Robertson valley started bottling wine under their own brands that Nico and Wynand wanted to do the same. A major milestone was reached in 1980, with the birth of the Van Loveren brand. 

The story of the third generation of Retiefs began in the 1990’s. Nico’s sons, Bussell and Hennie; and Wynand’s sons, Phillip and Neil joined the family farm after completing their studies. In 2000, the four cousins introduced the Four Cousins range of wines, cementing their role in Van Loveren’s success to grow to South Africa’s leading family owned winery. Today the four Retief cousins are the driving force behind the company (https://www.vanloveren.co.za/our-story).

Van Loveren’s Retief Reserve 2018

The wine celebrates 80 years of expertise and three generations of wine-making in the Robertson region. Historic features show elements of great significance to the Retiefs, who own Van Loveren Family Vineyards.  There’s the family crest, first used on the maiden-branded wine in 1980; the date 1937 that recalls the purchase of the farm; and, the graphic of bright red Cannas.

Tasting notes:  gentle aromas of red berry fruit. On the palate, there are dried fig and vanilla flavours on a bed of soft tannins, juicy plum and blackberry fruit and a silky, dark-chocolate finish.
In the vineyard:    37% Pinotage and an equal amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 26% Shiraz.

In the cellar:  matured for 12 months in a combination of new barrels and 2nd and third fill barrels
Cellaring potential: 5 – 8 years
2019 International Wine & Spirit Competition, Silver Outstanding
2019 Veritas Wine Awards, Bronze
Cellar door price:  It is available from most specialist wine stores nationwide as well as Checkers and Ultra Liquors, and retails for between R115 and R120 per bottle.   

What is a Cape Blend?

A Cape Blend is unique to South Africa as it requires at least 30% Pinotage as one of the components.

The other components are not specified to make up the Cape Blend (although Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot seems to be the most popular choices). Even though one of the aims is to soften the Pinotage-heavy component, the lack of a united identity for the Cape Blend might be a bit confusing.

The emphasis on establishing an identity for a Cape Blend took a significant step forward with the first Perold Absa Cape Blend Competition in 2011. The rules of the competition stated that 30% of the blend, but no more that 70%, had to be Pinotage.

The consensus seems to have been that a Cape Blend had to be a red blend with a distinctive South African personality, plenty of character, balance, appeal and good ageing potential.”

Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/lifestyle/over-the-barrel-cape-blends/

Interestingly, the Van Loveren Retief Reserve is blended with 37% Pinotage, an equal amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Shiraz.

Beef and onion pie

Pie and a beautifully soft, full-bodied red wine. A buttery, crispy pastry lid, revealing a fragrant mix of beef and onions, seemed suitably indulgent for this special bottle.

Feeling like I owe the Retief Reserve at least the time to make my own pastry, I turned to Jamie Oliver’s cream cheese pastry recipe. I decided to fill the pie with beef mince and caramelised onions. The soft tannins in the red blend soften the gorgeous fattiness of the meat, releasing all the juicy flavour of this traditional combination.

I was only a little bit proud of how the pie turned out and the pairing was a thousand times better than I thought it would be. While lashings of ground black pepper and earthy herbs picked up the spicy Shiraz component, the Pinotage mellowed out the acidity of the tomato and onion base.

Winter doesn’t get much better than this.

In conclusion

A great fan of a red blend (purely because I’m often indecisive) this bottle is truly more than just a wine. It’s a celebration of a family, of hard work and of a presence in the wine landscape that simply can not be ignored.

Thank you so much, Van Loveren, for always allowing me to tell your stories and to become a small part of something as spectacular as your wines.

Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated / credited, are also my own.

The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *