ALISTAIR GIBSON: South Africa is producing some of the most exciting wine on the planet right now
Every now and again I am fortunate enough to go to a wine tasting that reminds me just why the world of wine is so exciting.
Two years ago, the first New Wave South Africa Tasting took place, bringing together many of the country’s young winemakers, the winemakers who in many ways characterise the current vibrant wine scene in the Cape.
Master of Wine Tim Atkin said of the tasting: ‘Here was the proof that South Africa is currently the most exciting wine-producing country on the planet.’
It’s a description that many in the wine trade and press agreed with.
Last week, two years on, it was the return of the tasting.
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It’s certainly not your usual wine trade event.
There were winemakers in T-shirts and baseball caps, and a speaker system playing the late, great Tom Petty .
It took place in an up-and-coming underground art gallery in Shoreditch.
For me, having lived in the Cape, the place where I caught the wine bug, this was like coming home, and a confirmation of my belief that now is the Cape’s moment.
I can’t possibly list all the wines that lingered in my mind long after I’d spat them out – and many of them are made in such small quantities they are almost unobtainable.
But here are a few white wines that will certainly be finding their way into my cellar.
Chenin blanc is, without question the Cape’s touchstone white grape right now and a good place to start is AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2016, Swartland (swig.co.uk £12.50, stonevine.co.uk £11.50).
It’s made by Adi Badenhorst who is as close to wine rock and roll royalty as you can get.
This has notes of honey, orange blossom, honey and pineapple, followed by a nicely-textured palate before a full-flavoured finish.
As Adi has said before, what he most likes about wine is that ‘It quenches your thirst’.
And look no further than Blank Bottle Moment of Silence 2016, Wellington (swig.co.uk £19, stonevine.co.uk £16.95) which is made by another maverick, Pieter Walser.
I can’t lie here, it’s a wine that holds a special place in my heart.
A more evocative name for a wine I can’t think of, and it’s graced my kitchen table on numerous occasions.
A blend of chenin blanc, viognier and grenache blanc, this is quite bold and full-flavoured with fleshy apricots and a touch of apple pie, with a creamy palate which still manages to maintain lively freshness. Try this with fish pie, delicious.
Savage White Blend 2016, Western Cape (swig.co.uk £27.95) was in some ways my white of the day in terms of availability and value-for-money.
A blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon and chenin blanc, this is such an expressive wine, with lime, peach, pear, minerals and a touch of green herbs on the nose.
It’s beautifully proportioned wine with great complexity that just keeps going and evolving in the glass.
It almost epitomises everything that makes the Cape wine scene so exciting right now.
n Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail [email protected]