Anthony Rose: The more adventurous South African producers are trying out new blends of grape varieties
Saturday 07 March 2009
Knowing the South African winemakers Gary and Kathy Jordan, it's a fair bet that when their new London restaurant, High Timber, open its doors close to the Millennium Bridge this month, it will have a good chance of succeeding even in these tough times. The Jordans are the likeable and self-evidently courageous couple behind Jordan Estate in Stellenbosch. Their 2006 Jordan Chameleon Cabernet Merlot, £10, Jeroboams shops, is a succulently juicy Margaux-meets-the-Cape blend of blackcurrant with a capsicum whiff, and the 2004 Jordan Cobblers Hill, £17.95-£19.99, Jeroboams, Ex Cellar, Surrey (01372 275247), Flying Corkscrew (01442 412312), sawinesonline.co.uk, one of the Cape's most stylish and complex bordeaux-style blends.
The Jordan whites include one of the Cape's benchmark chardonnays, the 2007 Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay, £18.49 - £19.10, sawines online.com, Jeroboams, but their most recent success was the 2008 Jordan Chameleon White, £8.55-£8.99, Jeroboams, Quaff Wines, Brighton (01273 820320), a refreshingly food-friendly, new vintage blend of mainly sauvignon blanc with chardonnay. It's no secret that the Cape's dry white wines have made great strides in the past decade. Instead of sticking to the tried-and-tested varietal path of chenin blanc, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc on their own, the more adventurous wine producers are trying out combinations of these grape varieties in blends.
At its simplest, the result is wines like the 2008 Flagstone Noon Gun, £8.99, buy 3 = £5.99, Thresher, a refreshingly unoaked, peardroppy glugger. A step up is Bouchard Finlayson's spritz-fresh and zingy 2008 Blanc de Mer, £8.40-£8.99, Lea & Sandeman shops, Great Grog, Edinburgh (0131-555 0222), Swig, sawinesonline.co.uk; the 2007 Vondeling Petit Blanc, around £7.95, Swig, sawines online.co.uk, is another tropically fresh stonefruity blend based on the chenin blanc and viognier.
Based on aromatic freshness and the zing of sauvignon blanc, the Bordeaux white Graves style is becoming a feature of Cape blends. Zevenwacht's Tin Mine White, £9.29-£9.79, Cooden Cellars (01323 649663), sawinesonline.co.uk, a blend of sauvignon with chardonnay and viognier, delivers a delicious mouthful of tropical fruit. Nederberg's Ingenuity White, £15.99, sawinesonline.com, is an eight-way blend in which sauvignon and chardonnay are the dominant varieties.
Another of the Cape's great white hopes draws on its heritage of old-bush-vine chenin blanc wines. Such is the case with the 2007 Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards White, around £13.99, Delilah Fine Foods, Nottingham (0115-948 4461), Swig, a powerful, peachy, honey chenin blend. Similarly, Vondeling's 2006 Babiana, around £10, Swig, staubyn wines.com, brings viognier and chardonnay together in this liquid stonefruit and honeyed classic. Not for the faint-hearted, the 2006 Lammershoek Roulette Blanc, around £10.25-£11.99, The Butlers Wine Cellar, Brighton (01273 698724), Bentley's Wines, Ludlow (01584 875520), The Vineking, Reigate (0870 850 8997), Luvians Bottle Shop, St Andrews (01334 477752), WoodWinters, Bridge of Allan (01786 834894), deFine Food & Wine, Cheshire (01606 882101), is an opulent blend with undertones of cinnamon.
Sawinesonline.co.uk (0845 456 2365): 12 bottles delivery charge £6.99. Swig (08000 272 272; swig.co.uk): order 6 bottles delivery charge £9.50
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