So I'm turning 30 this year! Actually in 2 weeks time, on the 23rd of July. I was going to travel to France to sip on Champagne & indulge in some foreign wines as a spoil. However, here we sit with the Corona Virus epidemic that has hit the entire world harder than expected & unfortunately, I had to cancel my 30th birthday trip and now I'll be celebrating alone at home.
So, instead I've decided to share my top 10 favourite wines, that I'll be sipping on over the next month, with you. (This is honestly no easy task to narrow down a list to only 10, so it's taken some real thought & hard decision making.)
So in no particular order...
1. Ataraxia - Pinot Noir (Hemel en Aarde)
I remember sharing a glass from the 1st unlabeled bottle of 2017 with winemaker; Kevin Grant on a #WineRoutingWithLloyd trip back in 2018. The wooded red wine seems to reflect the light, whilst the nose promises a blend of ripe cherries, fresh earth & oak. And that's exactly what follows through on the palate with a soft ripe red fruit aftertaste & finish, making it an everyday wine for me.
2. La Motte - MCC (Franschhoek)
A beautiful mix of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir culminating in a heavenly fermented glass of fine bubbles. Soft on the palate, with a burst of flavour. Hints of citrus & baking brioche on the nose. Finishing off with a freshness that cleanses the palate to prepare it for the next sip.
3. Steenberg - Semillon (Constantia Valley)
Aromas of honey mixed with white stone fruits hit your nose on the first smell and slowly carry through to the palate with roasted almonds developing alongside soft fruits. At the Steenberg Garden Party, I discovered that the aftertaste is everything, combining citrus & floral spices that linger the perfect amount of time between sips. Definitely a wine that's only going to get better & more complex with time.
4. Flagstone - Dark Horse Shiraz (Stellenbosch)
Mysterious in every way possible. Like the Dark Horse. A 100% Shiraz that embodies all the best characteristics thereof. As the name suggests, a dark plum colour fills your glass with a complex combination of aromas that fill your nose - dark black fruits & dark chocolate with subtle undertones of spice. All of which follow through on the palate developing from the tip of the tongue right through to the back of the mouth ending in a smooth winning finish.
5. Holden Manz - Cabernet Franc Reserve (Franschhoek)
A discovery that Gerard Holden introduced me to at the Winter Sculpture Fair is a rich & elegant wine that legitimately hits all the right spots. A Burma ruby has got nothing on the red that fills your glass. Ripe raspberries mixed with tobacco leaves, lavender & fresh black fruits take over as the aromas develop. And on the palate, a smooth wine with balanced savoury flavours mixed with those fresh black fruits. (Not opening my last bottle for another 8 years at least.)
6. De Grendel - Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc (Durbanville)
Another #WineRoutingWithLloyd first. The first stop on the very first trip back in 2018 too. Pale straw with glints of green and gold as the light passes through the glass. Something between a mix of ripe pineapple & creamy melon on the nose & the palate, that gives the wine added longevity to age for another 3-5 years whilst the complexity develops too.
7. Waterford - Kevin Arnold Shiraz (Stellenbosch)
A firm favourite dating back to 2016 when I met Kevin Arnold at a private tasting with friends. And since then, it's always been on my list. A rather complex wine on both the nose & palate with ripe red & dark fruits, somewhat earthy yet fresh. Touched off with plums & spice it makes for perfect drinking & a velvety smooth finish that's only going to get better with age.
8. Le Lude - MCC (Franschhoek)
There really is just something about MCC that comes out of the Franschhoek Valley. The Le Lude Non Vintage MCC I discovered on a tasting with then winemaker - Paul Gerber back in 2012/2013, just when Le Lude came onto the scene. Finer bubbles in a South African MCC I have not experienced. An elegant bubbly with aromas of citrus blossoms & fresh lime. Hints of sweet nougat & roasted almonds. But a fresh taste & feel on the palate developing flavours of grapefruit, lemon & pears. Then the aftertaste not only leaves you with wanting more, but also with honey & vanilla.
9. Leopards Leap - Culinaria Chenin Blanc (Franschhoek)
#WineRoutingWithLloyd was started to discover the unique & what I found at the Chef's South African Table with the then head chef - Pieter de Jager gave me some new found respect for Leopards Leap. A Chenin Blanc that is very well defined with aromas of ripe white peaches, melons & hints of spice. A vibrant acidity in the wine complements all the flavours, but best part is the oak on the wine gives it that extra bit of structure that's going to ensure this wine ages real well if you can keep it on the wine rack for long enough.
10. Mullineux Quartz Chenin Blanc (Swartland)
A white wine that has been made to age! An interesting straw colour, with glints of a lemon yellow as you swirl your glass. The quartz ensures the beautiful mineral character hits the nose alongside some ripe citrus. These follow onto the palate with added white peaches & a somewhat creaminess whilst finishing off nice & fresh. 10 to 20 years will only give the wine more opportunity to develop enhancing flavours in the bottle.
So here's to sipping on some real good South African wine & celebrating 30 years.