World Cup enlivens rural lips
Focus is more on the price of a bed than harvest time and an abundance of delectable wine available from Constantia to Walker Bay
AS THE new year settles into a rural rhythm, the throaty roar of a mechanical harvester growling through our village is testimony to the advent of harvest in warm regions: wine farmers and viticulturalists are watching the white grapes closely, while in the cool areas, picking and crushing will take place more than four months hence…
But in every corner of our winelands, winemaking and marketing plans are accompanied by a heightened anticipation of a Cape winter that promises to be different from the norm. Preparations for out-of-season World Cup visitors and booming sales are under way at many cellars as producers relish the promise of a midwinter bonanza. It’s the ideal antidote to a recessionary year we are happy to bid farewell to.
As 2010 marks not only the start of the second decade in the new millennium, but also the completion of 15 eventful years since South Africa became a democracy, reflection and debate on vinous achievements should be high on the agenda. But it seems that the prospect of the Fifa World Cup in six months means that the conversation is more likely to centre around the prices being asked for a week’s accommodation at a far m cottage, breakfast included.
While last year was tough for most, the good harvest compensated to some extent. Youthful whites released last winter confirmed the promise of quality, while now’s the time to look out for those which spent a little longer in tank and barrel.
With temperatures regularly climbing beyond the 30 degree level, most consumers seek refreshing whites to counter the heat. This usually leads to a sauvignon blanc and this year’s river of super sauvignons will please most palates and purses. Some are scintillating, many are enjoyable and just a few of the cheaper ones are insipid or boring.
It is the crisp green sauvignon that is still trendy, whether cut grass, green pepper, gooseberry or asparagus fill the mouth. The fuller fruitier version is more difficult to find, while the ideal – a medium-bodied wine that offers a superb balance of both – is not uncommon in the higher price brackets.
Southern suburbs customers who have no wish to go further than Con- stantia for their wine, could focus on Buitenverwachting’s 2009 Husseys Vlei sauvignon (R85). A sensational special occasion wine, it’s likely to age beautifully, and right now will partner leafy salads and fresh seafood in style. Meanwhile, residents in Durbanville have a choice of three from large-scale producer Durbanville Hills. Martin Moore’s least expensive ’09 sauvignon costs R48 and is crisp and green with a little melon and citrus to add interest.
For budget-watchers, Perdeberg is a household name when it comes to chenin, but their 2009 sauvignon reserve is also good value at R33, and will appeal to those looking for fruit rather than verdant flavours.
From Distell comes Zonnebloem’s Limited Edition sauvignon 2009, priced at R58. Always a safe buy, this crisp green wine makes an enjoyable aperitif and partner for delicate pastas.
Another value-for-money Distell sauvignon is the standard Fleur du Cap sauvignon which, at R40, costs a lot less than their much-admired unfiltered champion, and is a great match for casual summer fare.
In the warm Robertson valley, Springfield reigns supreme when it comes to sauvignon, with loyal fans returning regularly for both the complex, minerally Life from Stone and the equally popular Special Cuvee, dry but with crisp citrus notes.
Further up Route 62, Carel Nel and winemaker daughter Margaux of Boplaas, aware that it’s a little warm for sauvignon in the SA port capital, have turned to the Darling region for sauvignon blanc grapes which they vinified and bottled under their new label Cool Bay. Perfect to counter the Klein Karoo heat and it’s also available at their new tasting room at Great Brak River.
More about maritime sauvignons from Walker Bay and the West Coast another time, but there’s just space for a delightful success story from the Iona cellar in Elgin. Renowned for a seriously good sauvignon and chardonnay, along with a couple of well-aged reds, a light-hearted version of the crisp white – dubbed Sophie Te’blanche – joined the range in November. Referred to as “the most famous woman to never exist”, the stylish label depicts Sophie’s golden tresses while the screwcap is finished with an alluring set of lashes. Priced at R45, this is quality Elgin wine with floral, mineral and verdant tones.
It has been snapped up by connoisseurs and party-goers alike. More is being bottled, so the farm should have new stock by mid-month, and you should find it in some retail outlets.
BUITENVERWACHTING: Vineyards deep in the Constantia valley are the source of a brilliant sauvignon blanc.