In South Africa, many of us are creatures of habit when it comes to wine. When we are heading to a sunny afternoon event we’ll take a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Evenings call for a red, which is mostly a Cab, Merlot or Shiraz. These are all lovely varietals and there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want. But now and then it’s worth challenging your palette a little.
Over the last few weeks I’ve discovered a few wines that offer new and exciting flavours. While I enjoy a good wooded Chardonnay, I’ve also been loving wooded Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, which get an interesting, fragrant character in the process. I’ve also tasted a delicious and crisp white Zinfandel, which offers a beautiful fresh, floral character. I even found a gorgeous summer red to carry us through the upcoming inbetweener seasons.
Here are the wines I have been loving most this month.
Blaauwklippen White Zinfandel 2016
I tried this wine at a recent Blaauwklippen Zinfandel tasting which was hosted at the Cape Grace Hotel next to the V&A Waterfront. It was a pretty perfect pairing for the clear summer’s day and the cool blue water lapping against the boats in the harbour outside.
The wine has a gorgeous light peach colour to it. I picked up pink pepper and rose aromas on the nose, followed by a fresh palette with notes of litchi and peaches. It will look splendid on any lunch table and I would pair it with seafood and salads.
2016 is pretty much sold out, so look out for the 2017 vintage that will release soon.
Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc 2015
We opened this bottle on a balmy Friday evening at the beginning of March and it offered a perfect relief from the ever-enduring heat. I got a full palette packed with guava, gooseberries and stone fruit, but it also had an undertone of cucumber, green herbs and freshly cut grass that helped to bring balance to the wine.
The grapes were sourced from dryland vineyards in Darling, which were exposed to cooling breezes from the Atlantic ocean, and from Elgin in the Overberg. The result is a beautiful and fragrant wine that offers a variety of tastes on the palette.
You can try this wine with a fresh summer salad, cheese or even a green curry.
Delaire Graff Swartland Reserve Chenin Blanc 2014
Despite difficult weather conditions in the vineyards, Delaire Graff came through with a beautiful wine. This 100% Chenin Blanc is rich and creamy but with a hint of minerality and acidity for balance.
The grapes were whole bunch pressed with no sulphur added and barrel fermented for 14 days. It was then matured in French oak for a further 10 months. The result is a light golden wine with tropical fruit, honey and nutty flavours, all well-balanced to lure you back for another sip.
The farm is already selling the 2015, which should be an equally special vintage after a very good season in the vineyards.
Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve White 2014
I was thoroughly charmed by this wine. The blend consists of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon and 10% Viognier. Each component was matured on the lees in French oak barrels for 10 months and then blended before bottling.
The result is a full palette filled with notes of stone fruit, honey and citrus. I would pair it with sushi, a fragrant curry or grilled chicken.
Black Elephant Vintners The Fox & Flamingo Rosé 2015
When the waiter poured this ruby red rosé into my glass at a lunch in Franschhoek, I cringed a little, expecting a sweet, strawberry situation. I was pleasantly surprised. This wine is not sweet at all. Instead it feels more like a red wine (only nice and cold), delivering a blend of blood orange, blackcurrant and mango flavours alongside hints of leather and tobacco.
If you’re typically a red wine drinker, I think you will love this as a summertime alternative.
Which wines have you been enjoying this month? Pop your recommendations in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.