Summer wines from the Southern Hemisphere: Richard Esling June 16
Although the world is still in turmoil and the ‘old normal’ or the ‘normal normal’ still may be a long way off, slowly we emerge like butterflies from a chrysalis into a slightly more welcoming environment.
But one thing is for sure, summer is here and though holidaying this year may be a little different, or perhaps delayed, it’s the time to enjoy a bottle of wine with friends in the garden. Summer salads and hearty barbecues are the order of the day, perhaps with an umbrella nearby in case that passing shower comes a little too close.
This week I have some recommendations from the other side of the globe, which I prefer to call Southern Hemisphere wines rather than New World wines. Since great wines were being made in South Africa in the seventeenth century, before the Medoc peninsula near Bordeaux had even been drained and was still mainly marshland, new world wines is sometimes a bit of a misnomer.
Chardonnay, that greatly misunderstood grape variety now grown in just about every wine producing country of the globe, makes fabulous wine in the hands of a good winemaker.
Honeycomb Chardonnay 2019 made by Journeys End in western South Africa is a beautifully balanced wine, which has depth and richness from subtle oak ageing but still remains fresh and vibrant. The Chardonnay grapes are grown on prime cool sites in the renowned Stellenbosch region, bringing finesse and restrained fruitiness. It was a perfect accompaniment to a seafood risotto with giant prawns and langoustines. £8.50 from M&S.
Moving to another continent, Robert Oatley Margaret River Chardonnay 2017 from Australia is slightly weightier. Also gently oaked to enhance rather than mask the varietal character, the fruit flavours and aromas are reminiscent of white peaches and nectarines, with considerable depth and length on the palate. £13.95 from Ocado. A great match for roast chicken fillets with lemon and tarragon.
Back to Stellenbosch in South Africa, Journeys End also produces a deliciously fruity and rich red named Kendal Lodge after the producer’s original homestead overlooking False Bay on the Cape. Made from the traditional Bordeaux mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the 2018 vintage has notes of blackberry, roast coffee and herbs, finely textured by ageing in French oak barrels. A brilliant Summer red and a very reasonable £8 from M&S.
But for those big, hearty barbecues, with the charcoal hopefully only being used for the fire, rather than being the charred remains of the sausages, Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenère 2016 is just the ticket. A big, chunky wine with bags of flavour from the 20-year-old Carmenère vines, from the Aconcagua Valley in Chile. Made by one of the top Chilean wine producers, intense fruit flavours are achieved from harvesting at perfect ripeness, with 12 months oak ageing bringing complexity, soft tannins and elegance. Notes of spice, black pepper, red plums and black figs. £16.60 from Ocado or Wine Direct Sussex.