Loire Valley guru Pascal Jolivet inspired the talented Matt Day to make this wild-fermented, left-field Sauvignon Blanc from two complementary parcels on one of the oldest estates in South Africa’s Constantia Valley. Still youthful, intense and showing some tannic structure, it’s a superb, bone-dry expression of Constantia with notes of grapefruit pith, elderflower and wet stones. How wonderful to see a top Cape producer releasing a white wine with some bottle age.
Unless you want to drink Prosecco or Cava, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find good bubbly under £15. England and Champagne can’t hit that price point, but South Africa still can. Villiera’s cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, aged on its lees for 18 months, is my go-to party fizz right now. Made in a dry style with just six grams of dosage, it’s fresh, tangy and slightly toasty with lemon and lime flavours, a creamy mousse and appealing texture.
I’ve just spent the best part of a month in South Africa and I’m more in love with Cape Chenin Blanc than ever. This is not the cheapest example in the high street, but it’s worth spending a little more to buy a wine of this quality. Sourced from 40-year-old vineyards, it’s a rich yet refreshing white that shows the cool elegance of the 2021 vintage. Honey, peach and citrus fruit flavours are framed by scented oak, green apple acidity and a dusting of patisserie spices.
I had to check the price of this amazing Cape bargain twice to make sure that it was correct. Made by the talented Riandri Visser of Cape Point Vineyards, who also spends a lot of time producing wine in the Loire Valley, it’s a brilliant Fairtrade certified cuvée of Sauvignon Blanc and 14% Semillon. Sappy, crunchy and mouth-wateringly fresh, it has lemongrass, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours and a waxy, herbal undertone.
The Voor Paardeberg is sometimes described as “Swartland Lite”, to distinguish it from the wines made on the other side the mountain, but the region has come into its own in the last five years. This is one of a growing number of stand-alone Grenache Blancs being made around the world, especially in warm regions where the variety retains its acidity. Tangy, pithy and well-structured, with layers of complexity from ageing in barrel, terracotta and stainless steel, as well as 30% malolactic, it has citrus, camomile, aniseed and wet stone flavours and thrilling minerality.
I missed the recent Chenin Blanc conference in South Africa, but I was there in spirit. The French grape has made its home from home in the Cape, where it is responsible for many of the country’s best whites. This one comes from Stellenrust, a winery that makes several different interpretations of the variety, and represents wonderful value. Green apple and pear flavours are framed by vivid, sappy acidity, with just a hint of oak spice as a backdrop.
Winemaker Jean-Claude Martin calls this his “village wine”, produced from 11 different blocks at Creation, tucked away at the top end of the painterly Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Deftly wooded in 10% new barrels, it has an engaging combination of citrus, pear, nutmeg and beeswax flavours lifted by acidity. A very impressive Cape white from a Chardonnay master.
A stunning white from the tip of Africa. Marrying Sauvignon Blanc with 31% Semillon to brilliant effect, this has a combination (grape) skin contact, lees contact, barrel fermentation and stainless steel ageing, all designed to add more layers of flavour to a remarkable white. Saline, herbal and understated, with vanilla and pink grapefruit flavours and a stony bite.
Tertius Boshoff and his team make some of my favourite Cape Chenin Blancs, offering wines of varying levels of price and complexity, right up to some of the best examples in South Africa. This lightly wooded example is a really good introduction to the joys of the variety, with notes of hay and baking spices on the nose, pear, peach and citrus on the palate and a dusting of vanilla. Stellenrust is also Faitrade accredited, tying in with the subject of Jono Le Feuvre’s article this week.