It’s that time of the year again when many families get together to reminisce, share good and bad jokes and celebrate the achievements of the year. There is no better ally to get you through the awkward moments of silence with that weird cousin than the great vine.
Thinking about this list reminded me of Jean-Pierre Rossouw’s opening line in his book, Tasting the Cape: “Once you have drunk a wine, its story is not yet complete. If it has a strong personality, it lingers in memory forever, or else it’s a snapshot of that moment in time — the place and the people.”
This list is a collection of my top 10 memories of the year. As one does at a tasting, I will start with the fabulous whites and finish off with the elegant reds.
Two Dogs, a Peacock & a Horse, Sauvignon Blanc 2017
This wine is all about lasting first impressions, not only in name but also in character. From its lovely clean straw colour, blossoming floral nose to an incredible blend of citrus fruit, it hints of greengage on the palate. Unlike most sauvignon blancs, the acidity in this wine is well integrated thus allowing all the flavours to take centre stage while keeping the wine crisp and fresh. Look forward to some hints of gooseberry, green apple, lime and pineapple. It’s definitely the perfect co-host to a long, lazy summer lunch.
Farm: Black Elephant Vintners
Haut Espoir, Sémillon 2013
Sémillon as a grape is on the up and is definitely one of the frontrunners in shaping the profile of wine as a beverage of choice. It is mostly used as a component in most white blends but, thanks to the likes of Marozanne Beildt and many others, this wonderful grape is developing a voice. Like a well-crafted wooded chardonnay, this wine gently hugs the palate with its buttery undertones, layered in honeycomb, hints of vanilla and citrus fruit, with a crisp, long finish. It’s a wine for those reflective moments on the beach or one to share with a loved one.
Farm: Haut Espoir
Sumaridge, Chardonnay 2013
True to form, this wine gives off toast and buttery characteristics, a distinct crispiness followed by a fruit medley of green apples and lime, and cream on the finish. A welcoming and approachable wine with less body than traditional wooded chardonnays, this is a beautifully structured wine for an easy day.
Origin: Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Calogera, Prosecco NV extra dry
The wine world owes its growth to the increasing demand for sparkling wine. At the forefront of this consumption trend is Prosecco, which is projected to grow by 13.6% to 34.4-million litres by 2020. My favourite for 2017 is the Calogera Spumante, a buzzing mouth feel of ripe green apples, a touch of granadilla and hints of lemon zest and orange melons, beautifully wrapped in fine bubbles for a delicate mousse finish. The wine is light and fresh, ready for that end-of-year party.
Origin: Veneto, Italy
Steenberg, Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV
Not all grapes work well as sparkling wines but the Steenberg winery has found the winning recipe. This wine boasts a burst of tropical fruit on the front palate followed by crisp, fresh citrus lemon and ripe yellow apples on the finish. It definitely brings the cool climate to your mouth, which leaves you lusting for more. Another one to add to your guest list for that end-of-year celebration.
Aaldering Wine Estate, Pinotage Rosé 2015
Nothing says summer like the light, crisp freshness you find in this wine, a dry-style rosé that shows off a beautiful medley of fruit tones on the palate. In this wine you will find citrus fruit neatly knitted together with elements of fresh strawberries, apricot and toffee on the mid-palate, with a grapefruit finish that lingers on the back palate. An elegant but easy-going wine that can be shared around the braai on those sunny Highveld days. This wine won double gold at the Top 100 SA Wines 2016.
Beyerskloof Traildust, Cape blend 2015
As far as rewarding wines go, this is definitely on my top five list. It highlights the depth of quality in South African wine. It is made by the father of pinotage to pay homage to those involved in the years of hard work it takes to produce such world-class wines. This wine strikes the perfect balance of red fruits, juicy plums, ripe cherries, with a soft tannin structure that gently hugs your palate. An even blend of pinotage, cinsaut and pinot noir, it is truly a heart-warming wine made for those special occasions.
Idiom, Sangiovese 2013
Legacy is built on consistency and quality and the team at Idiom wines understands this perfectly. Sangiovese is another trending Italian varietal that is slowly taking its place as a drink of choice by wine drinkers. A very soft and welcoming wine with a charming aromatic and elegant nose. It beautifully and seamlessly integrates the fruit, wooden tones and tannin into a pleasant smooth drink. You will find blackcurrant jam, ripe red cherry notes, with hints of spice and cedarwood flavours. It reminds me of those fireplace moods on a cold winter’s evening.
La Vierge, Anthelia Shiraz 2013
This wine boasts a beautiful aroma of red berries and ripe black cherries, with some earthy tones. It follows through with a more pronounced fruit on palate entry, giving off ripe plum and strawberry flavours. A medium body with soft integrated tannin followed by a slight peppery and spicy lingering finish, just to remind you that it’s a shiraz. Interestingly, in ancient legend, anthelia was the ability to see angels on Earth, a sight reserved for a select few, which usually occurs in a fabulous shower of shimmering light. The hope in the wine is that you will also experience this celestial ability and, should you sip this wine in a dedicated setting, you too might hear the divine whispering of angels. For me, it is a personal memoir of the first date with my wife.
Farm: La Vierge
Origin: Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Longridge, Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
An astounding and elegant wine. It has a fresh forthcoming nose with a clean berry fruit aroma, and an exceptional balance of fruit and tannin structure. You get rich dark berries, blackcurrant and plums followed by soft, nutty and woody tones with a lingering finish. It’s the kind of wine to come home to after a long day.
All of these wines have been a real treat and a memorable experience of good times. That’s often the story about wine — it’s always more than a drink. The best part about these wines is that they are well priced for value, so you have no excuse for not treating yourself or your loved ones to them this festive season.
Bodibe Sebolai is a wine lover, lifestyle blogger and founder of Bodibe Wine Collection, a distribution and wine consultancy at bodibewines.co.za