‘So what’s in your wine glass at the moment?’
As avid wine bloggers, Kristen and I get asked this question on a regular basis. And to be honest, the answer is never the same as it’s dependent on a flurry of factors, ranging from our current mood, our favourite new discovery to how deep we’re digging into our pockets. But invariably, the number one factor that determines what we’re sipping is the season. As we’re both summer slickers, relishing under the current warm rays, I’ve collated a list of Glou Glou’s top picks of the season that pair best with sunsets and pool sides and are 100% drinkable. Trust me, I’ve double checked for you.
What Rhymes With Summer? Chenin.
Step aside Pinotage, there’s a new national grape variety on the rise. Over the past few years, Chenin Blanc’s effectively climbed up the corporate ladder so much it’s gone from worker to queen bee. Thanks to our nation’s enthusiasm for brandy, Chenin is South Africa’s most widely planted variety (covering 18.5% of the national vineyard area) and makes up the majority of old vine plantings. In fact, South Africa own two thirds of the world’s Chenin vines, placing winemakers in good stead to harvest what is a veritable goldmine of quality grapes, beloved for their hardiness in the vineyards and fruity aromas in the cellar.
Yet, what’s it to you? If you’re at odds with Chenin, let me appease any fears by divulging what the cultivar is most famous for – drinkability and affordability. Two items that rate fairly high on any purchase proposition list, right? Synonymous with the word ‘versatile’, Chenin can be make everything from sparkling wine to dry wine to sweet wine to noble late harvest wine, and it does it well. So you really can’t shy away from it, as you’re bound to find something you like, and at a competitive market price. To top this off, when produced well, Chenin Blanc ages beautifully and gains in complexity.
All that stands in the way of Chenin is marketing. Her reputation as a workhorse of the industry used to produce bulk wines precedes her, and heavyweights like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay still dominate the white wine playing field. To be honest, this girl needs a full 90s-style ugly-duckling-to-swan makeover. And yes, while considerable efforts are being made by the industry, driven by the Chenin Blanc Association of South Africa as well as long-time advocate of Chenin like Ken Forrester, Chenin’s future truly lies in the hands of the wine drinker (hello you!) opting for your Blanc to be Chenin instead of Sauvignon at the dinner table. Hint hint.
Our Most ‘Glou Glou’ Chenin Blancs:
- Lourens Family Vineyards Lindi Carien 2017
Glou Glou first tasted this wine as it debuted last year, and we were blown away by the humbleness of winemaker Franco, considering what he’s capable of bottling:
- B-Vintners Haarlem-to-Hope 2017
Falling under the umbrella of Raats, the specialists of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, it’s not surprise that this Chenin is truly remarkable.
- Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2017
If you like a wooded Chardonnay, and are looking for something similar in style, the Oldenburg delivers light hints of vanilla and almond that is oh-so-moreish.
Rosé All The Way
Rosé IS summer.
That delicate colour. The penchant for being chilled. It’s a dream with summer dishes like salads, seafood and al fresco dining. Yet, rosé is also much like the under-celebrated middle-child of the wine world – she’s got her work cut out when it comes to proving herself. Luckily, one of the current worldwide wine trends is that wine is being premiumised, and as South African palates are becoming more sophisticated in their tastes and purchasing habits, they are willing to pay for quality. This bodes well for rosé.
Up until recently, we’ve been having to shake off the semi-sweet, poor quality, strawberry pink image of the past. Much like Chenin Blanc, a lot of South African rosé headaches stem from bad historical marketing. To overcome this, winemakers are working hard at crafting smaller, premium rosé brands that establish them in the market while garnering a dedicated following.
Rosé’s greatest achievement has to be the fact that is the ultimate ‘in-between’ of styles, meaning it can offer the freshness of a fine white as well as the depth of a light red. In fact, it’s often said to be a warm weather drink, because it has a generally low acidity and low alcohol, making it an easy-drinking, let’s-just-lie-here-on-the-grass-while-eating-our-hummus kind of wine. Forget about ‘real men drink pink’. Having a glass of rosé in your hand is way more of a social status symbol than that in 2019.
Our Most ‘Glou Glou’ Rosé’s:
- CHÂTEAU DE SELLE DOMAINE OTT
Domaine OTT are quintessential rosé. There’s no two ways about it. They’re literally known as the ‘Riviera’ wine.
- Fairview Rose Quartz 2018Really well made rosé that delivers on quality and is a sure crowd-pleaser without breaking the bankBUY: https://www.port2port.wine/buy-wine/fairview/rose-quartz-20183) L’ORMARINS JEAN ROI ROSÉThis is a fantastic example of the move towards premium rosé styles. A show stopper brought to you by none other than Anthonij Rupert Wines.
Big Bottomed Bottles, You Make The Rockin’ World Go ‘Round
What do you get when you put bubbles and big bottles together? The ideal party starter, that’s what. During the busy summer season that we’re currently enjoying, it’s highly likely that you’re opening up your doors (and kitchen) at home on a regular basis to host friends and family. And when it comes to any kind of celebration, bubbles are synonymous with good times.
As summer is the busiest time on most people’s social calendar, buying bubbles in magnums just makes good economic sense, as a 1.5 L Magnum is equivalent to two standard 750 ml bottles. There are literally no drawbacks to upsizing to magnum. The increased size offers better aging potential for the wine. It’s more affordable. And it doubles up as a fantastic gift, should the bottles not be finished on the night of your soiree. This links to what Kristen recently wrote in her Boules Deep article, “the good news is that bad wines usually don’t make it to magnum size – so if it’s more than 1.5 litres and in glass and not a box, there’s a reasonable chance it’s a goodie”. This is a really good rule of thumb to go by, and something to keep in mind next time you’re stocking up for your guests.
Go big, or go home, right?
Our Most ‘Glou Glou’ Bubbly Magnums:
- Graham Beck Magnum Brut 1.5l NVThe king of bubbly, just bigger and betterBUY: https://www.port2port.wine/buy-wine/graham-beck/magnum-brut-15l-nv2) Louis Roederer Brut Premier 1.5l NV
Because what’s a magnum of bubbly if you can’t actually call it Champagne?
BUY: https://www.port2port.wine/buy-wine/louis-roederer/brut-premier-1-5l-nv3) Le Lude Rosé Magnum 2012
Le Lude has hit the scene in a big way. And considering we’ve covered rosé, bubbly and magnums, this is the ultimate tour de force.