South Africa offers great value
This column we are going to take a look at a pair of South African white wines. This is a good chance to look at some of the affordable everyday wines being produced by the world’' s ninth largest wine producer. South Africa has a long history of quality wine production stretching back to the first harvest and crush in 1659!
Most of South Africa’s wine production comes from the region around Cape Town at the southern tip of the country. It is here that the warm Indian Ocean and the cold Atlantic Ocean meet to produce the temperate Cape climate. Moderate day- time temperatures, plenty of sunshine and cool evenings allow grapes to mature slowly and maximize flavours.
Two Oceans Chardonnay 2008 ( CSPC# 43570, $ 9.75) takes its name from this convergence of the Indian and Atlantic. Medium bodied and aromatic with plenty of character and wonderful balance, it’s a versatile Chardonnay capable of enhancing any occasion.
Two Oceans has a generous, open nose with forward aromas of citrus and tropical fruits with a touch of light pepper and vanilla. The complex palate offers up ripe Granny Smith apple, peach, pineapple and citrus fruit flavours. Underlying the fruit is just a touch of gentle oak, which adds another level of vanilla and spice flavours as well as a slightly creamy, buttery character to the wine. This mix of light oak and fruit produces a refreshing herbal edge to wine, which I characterize as a hint of dill ( absolutely delightful!).
The knife’s edge balance between fruit, oak and bracing citrus acidity is superb and distinguishes Two Oceans from many run-of-the-mill Chardonnays. The finish is long, zesty and refreshing, perfect for summer enjoyment.
You can serve it as an invigorating aperitif, with finger food, or as a brunch or luncheon wine. It also has the body and depth of flavour to match well with freshwater fish, chicken and white meats and moderately spiced seafood dishes.
Slightly lighter in body, yet equally attractive, Beach House Sauvignon Semillon 2008 ( CSPC# 122390, $ 9.95) also hails from the Cape region. The Sauvignon Semillon blend originated in the Bordeaux region of France and adds complexity and an extra dimension of flavour as compared to a single varietal Sauvignon. The nose exhibits typical Sauvignon aro- mas of gooseberry, tropical fruit, citrus and peach, with an added light floral quality courtesy of its Semillon component.
Light to medium bodied, it still packs vibrant, generous fruit on the palate. This is again courtesy of the Semillon grapes, which add weight to the palate. Intense gooseberry, grapefruit and citrus fruit dominate with undertones of green apples, pears and a peppery black licorice quality. A spicy, tangy acidity nicely balances the fruit and is prominent on the long, complex finish.
Beach House has just the right weight and balance to start a meal as a zesty, refreshing aperitif and then continue providing yeoman service as a great food wine. Seafood, particularly calamari, would make a sublime partner. Chicken, prosciutto and smoked salmon would also fare quite nicely.