ALISTAIR GIBSON: Irresistible wines from the Cape to embrace the spring
The first day of spring arrives on Tuesday, March 20, and I will, without a doubt, be ready to embrace it.Â
It is a very British topic of conversation but actually I think the change of the seasons isÂ one of the great joys of living in this country.
EachÂ season brings with it different weather patterns, a change inÂ daylight hours and perhaps most interestingly, seasonal foods.
Here's some thoughts on wines to welcome in spring.
Chenin blanc has seen a tremendousÂ surge in interest over the past few years. It is one of the most food versatile white wines and if youÂ are getting just a little tired of Marlborough sauvignon blanc then Cape chenin is definitely a wine destinationÂ worth a visit.
Irresistible Chenin Blanc 2017, Darling (Co-op Â£6.99) is one of the standout wines in the Co-op'sÂ Irresistible range and as an instruction to Cape chenin blanc there is noÂ better place to start.
This is produced from grapes grown in Darling, which is a relatively new region on the Cape's west coast, which hasÂ the benefit of being cooled by the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Unwooded, this is the very essence of chenin blancÂ '“Â crunchy green apple, ripe pear, citrus fruit and just a touch of honey followed by some juicy fruit one theÂ palate with some crunchy acidity.
This is fantastic value, try it with simply grilled mackerel fillets or some garlicÂ prawns.
Trade up a little and you get a wine made by Bruwer Raats, acknowledged as one of the Cape's cheninÂ blanc kings.
Raats Family Wines Original Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenbosch (winedirect.co.uk Â£10.95,Â Hermitage Cellars Â£10.25) is another unwooded example but this has more depth and concentration than theÂ Darling chenin blanc.
There is a more than a hint of tropical fruit here with some pineapple alongside melon,
apple and citrus fruit on the nose followed by a really fresh, lively palate with juicy acidity on the finish.
Wonderfully fresh wine, try this with some sushi or a mild curry. If you still need some Kiwi sauvignon clanc inÂ your glass then try and skip some of the '˜entry level' supermarket wines, many of which seem to have moreÂ residual sugar in them than is necessary.
Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Awatere Valley, MarlboroughÂ (Hennings Wine Â£16.50, Hermitage Cellars Â£10.25 on offer from Â£13.25) is from one of Marlborough's mostÂ interesting producers.
Founded by English couple Steve Pellett and Bridget Ennals, who settled in Marlborough
having previously travelled the length of Africa in an old Landrover they'd named '˜Stanley'.
The wine is madeÂ by talented winemaker Eveline Fraser and it shows just why Marlborough sauvignon blanc first caught ourÂ imagination.
It's very aromatic with grapefruit, passion fruit, gooseberries and a hint of tomato stalk, followedÂ by zesty acidity which beautifully balances the fruit and mineral lead palate.
A bit early for English asparagusÂ maybe but this would be the perfect match, welcome to spring.Â
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail