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Wines to drink outdoors from sunrise to sunset; and then all the way around again, Malu Lambert shares her summer picks.
Hot days call for bright wines, preferably enjoyed by rushing water – your local waterfall, or hey even your garden sprinkler.
Stellenbosch Hills Chenin Blanc 2020, R55
Top notes of granadilla, green apple and bright lemon citrus let you know you’re in for a zippy ride, more tropical on the palate than the nose would suggest – honeyed pineapple and melon are balanced by a super fresh lancing acidity.
Ayama Leopard Spot White 2019 Grenache Blanc, R125
Keep your eye on grenache blanc folks, it’s here to stay and we’ll be seeing more of it in SA. Single-varietal wines are loved for their good aromatics, textural body and fresh acid. This guy offers crunchy green fruit, lemony verve and a tingly-spiced finish.
De Wetshof Limestone Hill 2020, R90
Once named the “Oyster Wine of the Year” by an organisation of Japanese sommeliers, this unwooded chardonnay is still just the thing for a plate of briny bivalves with its pure varietal expression, complemented by a leesy, chalky texture, and a creamy finish.
Bizoe Crossroad Semillon 2019, R130
It’s all in the name, a truly interesting intersection of vineyard parcels – semillon from both Darling (70%) and Franschhoek combine, each bringing character from their place of origin, a mineral texture and palate weight from the Franschhoek fruit, and a coastal brightness from the Darling. Lean but driven, quite serious for its price.
Saurwein Chi Riesling 2020, R200
Looks like summer, tastes like summer too. The previous vintage was hailed by Jancis Robinson as South Africa’s best Riesling yet, and this vintage is following in it steed. The wine is sketched in such clarity, the cool fruit so vivid; it washes o ver the senses, waking everything up. Though young, showing only primary fruit for now, white peaches, orange blossom, melon, an abundance of lime; there’s a woolly weightiness to the palate, a hint of glycerol slick, and just a touch of richer stone fruits promising evolution in the years to come with a light-footed, determined acidity to take it there.
TOKARA Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020, R150
Smart wine this, made from cool Elgin fruit it shows the more subtle side of sauvignon; granadilla blossom and blackcurrant leaf coalesce with green apple crunch, the acidity is fresh and elastic, carrying the subtle fruits along its current.
Sometimes wines grown and vinified by the sea can display a distinct salinity, sometimes it comes from the soils where the grapes grows, and sometimes from a wine-taster’s lexicon, used as a word to describe a clean saline savouriness often found in bright, fresh white wines.
Groote Post Seasalter 2020, R150
Sea-breeze freshness from Darling fruit opens the wine, the scent of freshly cut grass, and a deeper herbal tug reminiscent of a beachside milkwood forest. There’s some oak influence, giving the palate texture and hint of caramelised stone fruit; 20% of the sauvignon blanc was fermented and aged for four months in 300 litre French Oak barrels (80% new). The remaining components were fermented in stainless steel tanks and left on the fine lees. A play between racy oceanic fruit and a subtle richness comb together into a salt-toned, white peach finish.
Baby Bandito Keep on Punching Chenin Blanc 2020, R150
Focused and crystalline, a 100% chenin blanc produced from a single vineyard of bush vines planted in 1972 on rocky soil. Farmed organically, it produces tiny clusters of concentrated grapes, little bombs of flavour. White peach and orange citrus follow a line of steel, austere yet concentrated with a definite salty lick on the finish.
Strandveld Pofadderbos Sauvignon Blanc 2020, R150
There’s something quite special about a single-vineyard wine – it shows off its site in all its nakedness, nowhere and nothing to hide, especially if not masked by oak. And this Elim beauty, from a vineyard absolutely lashed by the Atlantic, reveals every curve of its glory; just ripe granadilla, bright and punchy blackcurrant fruit lead onto a palate that has depth, character hewn from struggle, and that roiling sea described in its seashell finish.
Fryer’s Cove Bamboes Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017, R260.00
The smallest wine of origin site in South Africa, Bamboes translates from the Afrikaans ‘to ‘kelp’, so close is it to the sea (500m), the vineyard is doused in salt mists each day. The cold succulence of the sea, fresh kelp, oyster shell tang, ride a wave peachy stone fruit. Wild, distinct; with a salty lemon-kissed finish.
Nothing says skin quite like summer; salt-kissed, sun-kissed, close to earth. Bare feet locked into sand, sinking into spongy green grass. It’s all about the close contact to the world around you, much like in skin-contact wines. These white wines (like red wines) are fermented with the skins, lending colour, texture and grape tannin. Contact periods vary, some short, say a week, some much longer – all depending on the style.
Bosman Fides Grenache Blanc 2017, R240
Like the glow of a nuclear sun, this naturally fermented orange wine waxes in with savoury citrus, honeyed pear and nutmeg spice, the acidy is orange toned and buoyant, the focus here on the subtle texture, satiny but taut, stretching right across the palate, ending in a nutty richness.
El Bandito Skin 2020, R300
Detailed. Just 10 days on the skins, this skin contact chenin still has lift and perfume; white rose petal freshness, candied ginger and lemongrass recede into a blood orange palate, pithy and bright. Grape tannin weaves the lightest tapestry, a silk flag unfurled across the palate.
Scions of Sinai Senor Tallos 2019, R185
I can almost hear the rustle of a tumbleweed as it whistles past when drinking this wine, it’s wild, but its west is the Semi-Arid Klein Karoo region, from where the grenache blanc is harvested. Not to be confused with skin-contact, but rather skin-macerated as the wine spends its fermentation on the skins until fermented dry, and in this case, 25 days before basket pressed. Honeybush aromatics, naartjie peel, toasted nuts and a certain leesy breadiness to the nose, the palate is supple and sublime, a textural showcase tempered by a fine natural acidity.
Pink wine anytime, it goes as well with bacon as it does with sunsets. Sheer bottled joy – and just the thing when you need something light and enlivening.
Spider Pig Wines Brozay Rose, R130
An interesting and unique blend of (60%) colombar and (40%) cinsaut – both historic Cape varieties plump up this wine with loads of fruit, strawberry and cranberry freshness, hint of melon and pear, and a line of blood orange shot right through.
Creation Rosé 2020, R129
A blend of 85% grenache noir, 15% viognier – the latter adding lift and floral perfume. Clarity of red fruit, pure and radiant is a cool slick along a subtle stony seam, the acid is fresh and crunchy, the finish raspberry-toned.
Fram Grenache Gris 2018, R149.00
No not a rosé – rather a deep-hued pink wine made with grenache gris – a mutation of grenache, all grapes have the potential to mutate and gris (pinky-grey) is most found in older vineyards. What makes this even more special is that it’s the only vineyard of its kind in South Africa. Technically an orange wine, it spent 12 weeks on the skins; the resulting wine is savoury and textured, with ripe strawberries and a spiced finish.
Yes you can drink red wine in summer – in South Africa with our hot climate we often drink red wines too warm in any case. Plus, with a braai around every corner this summer, you may want a wine with a little more weight, and a chilled light-bodied red does the job nicely. Just chill down in an ice bucket or the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.
Memento Grenache 2018, R330
Lifted aromatics of cool slate, raspberry and smoky cherry with jasmine perfume and an earthy touch of black tea, condenses into a supple, silk-like mouthfeel. A taut line of acid draws right across the palate, youthful, a just contained vibrancy shimmers beneath its calm, poised surface.
Metzer Family Cinsault 2018, R300.00
100% cinsault from a single-vineyard dry land, bushvine parcel, planted in 1964. A tug between delicacy and power, defined structure along a satiny fruit-driven backdrop, ripe tannins resolve into a mouth-watering dry finish.
Snow Mountain ‘The Mistress’ Pinot Noir 2019, R95.00
Winemaker James Mackenzie of Nabygelegen sources cool fruit from high on the Agter Witzenberg mountain for this fruity and light pinot, packed with red cherries and whiffs of rose petals and a slightly savoury finish.
Bubbles to start with, bubbles to end with. Anytime is the perfect time for a glass of fizzy freshness.
Graham Beck Brut Zero 2014, R370
Alight here for super crisp fruit, seashell minerality, and a bone-dry finish. The appetising ‘dryness’ is achieved by leaving out the additional sugar in the dosage that Brut MCCs would normally receive. So ‘zero’ means no dosage, not no alcohol. This is MCC unmasked; pure and saline, lambent and long.
The Blacksmith ‘Bloodline’ Pet Nat Chenin 2019 R210.00
Pét-Nat is short for pétillant naturel, which is French for naturally sparkling. Highly technical pét-nat is made with what is known as the ancestral method. The wine is bottled before first fermentation has finished, secured with a crown cap allowing the process to complete inside the bottle. Spiced apple, white pear and lemon drop pull together on a light and effervescent palate, pithy and lean with fresh acidity.
Kleine Zalze Methode Cap Classique Brut Rose NV, R115
Everything but the Christmas bow, perfect for the festive table and summer all-round. Red fruit driven, with an undercurrent of toasted hazelnut and a fine creamy mousse.
The ultimate outdoor beverage buddy, cans come in a single-serving sizes meaning you don’t have to uncork a whole bottle – in fact you can drink right from the can meaning you don’t have to bring glasses or a corkscrew. This portability lends itself to adventures in nature, from picnics to hikes. Pop in the nearest stream to cool down.
Marras Swartland Los Tros Chenin Blanc, R140 (4 cans)
Luscious layers of stone fruit and white pear, zippy acidity and a lovely, creamy, leesy palate.
Kleijne Wijn Gezelschap Bubbly Pinot Noir Rosé, R789.99 (24 cans)
Some like it pop! A juicy strawberry and cherry, dry and refreshing sparkler that goes down far too easily.
Black Elephant Sauvignon Blanc, R27.50 (per can)
The wine is the same as used in the winery’s Two Dogs a Peacock and a Horse 2019. Sauvignon blanc acolytes will be happy with this, it ticks all the boxes in terms of varietal typicity and that savvy freshness is sewn in with a line of tight acidity.