While winter may be fast approaching in Europe and North America, winter is on its way out in southern Africa and summer is around the corner. Trees are greening, plants are flowering, migratory birds are returning, the impala and other antelope are heavily pregnant and the days are hot! With summer rapidly approaching South Africa and the temperatures easily reaching 35°C winter is slowing becoming a distant memory. It’s getting too warm for full-bodied red wines and with long summer days, lazy lunches and afternoons spent next to the swimming pool one rather yearns for something fresh, crisp, light and refreshing. With that in mind below are my wine recommendations for this summer.
Let’s start with champagne shall we?
When asked when she drank Champagne Lilly Bollinger once replied, “I only drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty.” My sentiments exactly.
This stunning Méhode Cap Classique is a great blend between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, sourced from Graham Beck’s farms in Robertson and Stellenbosch. It has a beautiful silver-pink hue with subtle yeasty tones, it bursts with berry and cherry flavours and has wonderful oyster shell minerality. It’s a fun wine but at the same time elegant and structured. Perfect for drinking any time of the day, especially at lunchtime with Chef Anna’s range of sorbets.
La Vierge “Original Sin” Sauvignon Blanc 2013
This serious but fun wine hails from the Hemel-en-Aarde valley outside of Hermanus. La Vierge have based the theme of their winery very much around heaven and earth, Adam and Eve, and so forth, hence their logo is that of Adam and Eve pondering the serpent and the forbidden fruit. The road to heaven is paved with a zillion temptations as Adam and Eve discovered when they had been tempted by the serpent to eat from the forbidden fruit. In Hemel-en-Aarde, Chardonnay is the rage. La Vierge had ‘sinned’ by planting Sauvignon Blanc, but did so knowing that it would bring them infinite knowledge about this cool-climate grape variety. In it you get the opportunity to taste the forbidden fruit of the Hemel-en-Aarde area.
The wine shows tropical melon and pear drop, with some lemon grass and a wonderful mineral flintiness. There is 7% Semillon blended into the wine which adds mouth feel and richness to the palate. This wine pairs beautifully with a roasted tomato soup.
Beaumont “Hope Marguerite” Chenin Blanc 2013
This wine from Bot River is close to home with the wine maker, Sebastian Beaumont’s brother, Lucien Beaumont, Londolozi Ranger Extraordinaire, and his wife Nadia running Granite Camp.
The farm, home to the oldest wine cellar in the region, is steeped in history dating back to the 1700s. It has been in the Beaumont family since 1974. This wine was named after Sebastian and Lucien’s grandmother, Hope Marguerite. Although the residual sugar on this wine is higher than previous vintages, it is wonderfully balanced by natural acidity. It has aromas of ripe green apple, dried apricot, almonds and a hint of cinnamon spice. This wine will pair nicely with prawns with a warm Peri-Peri sauce as the slight sweetness on the wine will help to bring down the chili heat of the sauce.
Oak Valley Chardonnay 2013
This winery is based in Elgin. Oak Valley was founded in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen, a medical doctor who graduated from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Sir Antonie was also a Senator in the Cape Parliament and was knighted in 1916 for his efforts to bring together Boer and Brit in the bitter aftermath of the Boer War.
Sir Antonie, who signed up as a medical officer with the Boer army during the war, was placed under house arrest on the Oak Valley property for the remainder of the campaign after his capture by the British. His internment on Oak Valley was only granted on condition that he paid for the services of two British soldiers to guard him for the duration of the war!
Sir Antonie was instrumental in planting the first deciduous fruit such apple and pear orchids in the area. This industry is still the financial backbone of the region. But today Oak Valley focuses their efforts on producing elegant wines.
The wine shows distinctive fruit aromas of green apple, orange peel, and vanilla, citrus fruit such as orange and lime marmalade and honey characters. What I love about this Chardonnay is that the oak is subtle and well integrated, it is not overly oaked, buttery and too “heavy” but has a wonderful acidity, perfect for summer drinking. It will pair well Chef Anna’s Mozambican spatchcock chicken or even grilled beef fillet with a hollandaise sauce.
Yes, red wine does have a place in the extreme summer heat of the Lowveld. What I love about Pinot Noir is that it is ideally served slightly chilled around 16°C, perfect for those hot days.
The farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is owned by Dave and Felicity (nee Newton) Johnson. They have both been in the wine industry since the 70’s with Dave becoming one of the country’s first Cape Wine Masters in the early 90’s. The winery was founded in 1997 and I always find it a bit funny how even though Felicity lost her maiden name with marriage she ensured her family’s legacy continued in the winery name!
The wine has fragrant cherry and currant aromas with a wonderful earthiness and spice. It will pair nicely with Scottish salmon with a salsa verde.
What kind of wines do you enjoy drinking in the winter and in the summer? What are your favorites?
Written by: Kim Drake