What to drink this week

Spe­cial South Africans

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

A new gen­er­a­tion of whites is earn­ing quite the rep­u­ta­tion, con­cludes

Harry Eyres

At a re­cent din­ner of wine lu­mi­nar­ies in the City of London, the stand­out dry white wine was a South African Chardon­nay. The postapartheid ex­port drive of South Africa, which started by fo­cus­ing on price points, has been a lit­tle slower than Cal­i­for­nia, Aus­tralia or New Zealand to es­tab­lish a rep­u­ta­tion for re­ally fine qual­ity, how­ever, I be­lieve its time is com­ing— or, in­deed, has al­ready ar­rived.

Why you should be drink­ing it

Dur­ing the Apartheid years, the coun­try’s wine in­dus­try suf­fered from ex­ces­sive state con­trol and a short­age of good plant ma­te­rial. Nei­ther of these were con­ducive to ex­cel­lence. A new gen­er­a­tion has come to ma­tu­rity since 1990— tal­ented, tech­ni­cally out­stand­ing, out­ward-look­ing and fo­cused on find­ing the very best sites. What to drink An­thonij Ru­pert Protea Chardon­nay 2016 (be­low, £9.75; www.bbr.com) has an in­trigu­ing nose that com­bines ripe peach notes with sec­ondary nutty hints. It’s quite young and restrained on the palate, with good fresh­ness, but there’s also breadth. Paul Clu­ver Dry Ries­ling 2015 (£12.79; www.great­grog.co.uk) is full of char­ac­ter, with a cer­tain goût de pét­role and great lime-in­flected in­ten­sity on the palate. The grapes are grown in El­gin, a cool up­land val­ley for­merly bet­ter known for ap­ples that’s fast be­com­ing one of South Africa’s lead­ing wine re­gions. Also from El­gin is that stand­out wine I men­tioned, Richard Ker­shaw’s Clonal Se­lec­tion Chardon­nay 2015 (£34.99; www. ag­wines.com), which dis­plays su­perb ten­sion and poise, com­bin­ing grassy in­ten­sity with restrained opu­lence. Ker­shaw’s Clonal Se­lec­tion Syrah 2013 (£125 per six in bond; www.bbr.com) is equally sub­tle and fine.

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