What to drink this week
Special South Africans
A new generation of whites is earning quite the reputation, concludes
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.