Episode 44 – 27th January 2021
The wine trade at large is coming together to help the South African wine industry which is suffering greatly right now. Regular readers will have noticed that I have written up a few more South African wines than usual over the last few months and this is why. I urge you to read Bruce Jack’s moving article on the subject published in The Buyer – http://www.the-buyer.net/opinion/bruce-jack-covid-19-devastating-impact-on-south-africa/
So here are two of #MyFavouriteSouthAfricanWines for you to savour. Both are tiny production, elite creations which perform at the very top of the category.
2019 Migliarina, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa (£18.75, www.yapp.co.uk).
I first met Carsten Migliarina many years ago when he was a sommelier at Sir Terence Conran’s Le Pont de la Tour restaurant in London. I was buying the wines for Bibendum Restaurant, in which Terence had a share, and I visited ‘Pont’ regularly to taste with the shop and restaurant wine teams. Carsten produced his first wines back in 2002, sourcing Shiraz grapes from Franschhoek and maturing his wine in a friend’s garage. He has come a very long way since then but he still maintains his low-intervention mantra and his production of each of his labels is minuscule by everyday standards. This brand new release (it is launched on the Yapp website today) is a perfect example of Carsten’s restrained and yet expressive style. On the surface, this Chenin is composed, firm and long. It starts quietly on the nose, but when you look delve beneath there are faint flashes of exoticism and flair which embrace the mid-palate before the drawstrings pull together again and corset the fruit in preparation for a clean, taut and very long finish. This is impressive wine and the depth and persistence upgrade it from being a light white to a main course white, while never actually being a ‘heavy’ wine. This is clever stuff and goodness know what will happen as it starts to relax in the bottle and open even further!
2014 Rudera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa (£24.50, www.wildvines.shop).
From a young white wine to a mature red and, like the Miglairina wine above, this is another label which is somewhat discreet, flying, as it does, beneath the radar. Another similarity between this Cabernet and the Chenin is the flavour crescendo and then diminuendo on the palate. Drinking perfectly right now, there is a faint, gamey note on the nose over a cassis-stuffed core. It is enticing and enveloping but not in a forceful or ostentatious manner. The palate expands and satiates every taste but with velvety, buoyant fruit notes, coupled with discreet cinnamon and tobacco details. The finish is bone dry, pristinely fresh and yet not tannic at all. It is a genteel Cabernet rollercoaster ride with plenty of smiles and a refreshing lack of heart-stopping surprises along the way.