There is a tendency among wine enthusiasts to constantly refer to the beauty of vineyards and wine regions, but some of this I think comes from the fact that we feel so at home in these magical places that produce our favourite sustenance.
The hills of Tuscany are no more beautiful than the Knockmealdown mountains but only one of these places produces Brunello di Montalcino.
To get an idea of the beauty of South Africa’s vineyards check out www.waterfordestate.co.za. Waterford Estate nestles in the shadow of the Helderberg Mountain and was a fruit farm but began growing grapes seriously in the late 1990s around the time winemaker Kevin Arnold arrived.
About half the 120-hectare estate is under vine but a good portion is left to the natural flora and fauna — biodiversity is a watch word on the estate and in the Cape generally given the diversity of flowers and plants here.
Waterford Estate grow what they can but will also outsource where needed such as to Elgin for their Sauvignon Blanc (€24.99).
The Sauvignon is worth seeking out for its pristine lemon verbena scented freshness and elegance. Similarly the Kevin Arnold Shiraz (€36 — Whelehans) has freshness as well as elegant berry fruit flavours and tinges of spice, leather and mint.
All the wines this week are from either Paarl or Stellenbosch in the Western Cape just a few miles east of Cape Town.
This is the oldest geology in the wine growing world with the oldest soils mainly based on granite or sedimentary rock such as sandstone and shale.
These soils inhibit the vines somewhat and discourage vigour so are excellent for grape growing. It is cooler in this region than you would expect and all the wines this week have a fresh quality.
I also have a Bellingham Estate wine below a company whose wines seem to have jumped in quality in recent years and are still fairly competitively priced — also watch for their Old Vine Chenin and their surprisingly drinkable and elegant Pinotage.
Boland Cellar and Meerestein are the other guys below — both entry level producers that punch above their weight. All these wines are from independent off-licences so shop local.
BEST VALUE UNDER €15
Stockists: JJ O’Driscolls, Matsons, O’Donovans, Vintry, Sheils Londis, Daybreak Churchtown
Stockists: As above
Stockists: Matsons, No. 21 Blarney and Midleton, O’Donovans, Roches Whitechurch, Gala Blackpool, Vintry, Martins
BEST VALUE OVER €15
Stockists: Matsons Grange and Blarney, No. 21 Off-Licences, Ardkeen Stores
Stockists: Ardkeen, World Wide Wines, Whelehans, McHughs, Donnybrook Fair, Jus de Vine.
Stockists: Ardkeen, World Wide Wines, Gibneys, On The Grapevine, Whelehans, McHughs, Donnybrook Fair, Jus de Vine, McHughs
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