Pair the warmer weather with these delicious spring wines
Spring in the Cape is known for its unsettled weather. So much so that choosing a suitable wine can be a little tricky – it’s neither warm enough for a crisp Sauvignon Blanc nor cold enough for a heavy Bordeaux blend. Thankfully, the Franschhoek Wine Valley is the birthplace of a vast array of lighter style reds and rich fruity whites that pair beautifully with the season. Here is a selection of some of our favourites: the tip of the iceberg really (because on the subject of wine, everyone has an opinion and no-one is wrong!)
Ah, Chenin Blanc: that fruity, easy-drinking lunch time favourite and most widely planted vines in South Africa. The versatility of Chenin, its diversity of wine styles, and its great food-friendliness all point towards its rising acceptance among local consumers. This is in line with the growing international interest in the grape, increasingly seen abroad as South Africa’s calling card.
Try: Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc | Glen Carlou “The Welder” | Grande Provence Chenin Blanc | Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc | Rickety Bridge “Paulina’s” Reserve Chenin Blanc
Malbec is red grape variety originally grown in France (and famously a part of the Bordeaux blend family), but it is best known as the flagship varietal of Argentina. Malbec is a dark, inky red wine with medium to firm tannins. Deep, rich fruit flavours come through and, in heavier oaked styles, a smoky character, making Malbec a fantastic wine for cooler Spring evenings and/or heavy meat dishes.
Try: Anura Vineyards Malbec Limited Release | Chanteclair Malbec | La Bourgogne 1694 Progeny Malbec | La Couronne Malbec | Vrede en Lust Malbec
Méthode Cap Classique (MCC)
Regarded as one of South Africa’s leading MCC producing areas, the Franschhoek Wine Valley has a total of 24 producers – and an annual festival to honour them all – so you won’t struggle to find a delicious MCC with which to celebrate the arrival of spring! The winemakers responsible for producing these superb MCC’s range from Old World to New World thinking, resulting in a diverse range of wines, the provenance of which extends from Babylonstoren all the way through to Franschhoek Pass Winery.
Try: Boschendal Grande Cuvée Brut MCC | Colmant Brut Chardonnay NV | Le Lude MCC Brut and Rosé (the estate specialises in MCCs) | Topiary Blanc de Blancs Brut | Grande Provence MCC Brut Reserve | Môreson Solitaire Blanc de Blancs NV
Pinot Grigio / Gris
Originally from Italy, Pinot Grigio (or “Gris” if you want to be French about things) is a versatile grape the resultant wine of which varies greatly depending on the terroir and the winemaker’s vision. From some farms you get a rounded, fuller white wine and from others, a much lighter, refreshing wine. The one thing they do share in common is a delicate nose, often with a hint of honey.
Try: Terra Del Capo Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir originates from Burgundy and Champagne in France. In South Africa, it tends to be a silky, light to medium bodied red wine, depending on the degree of wood maturation. The wine is known for having a big nose and is lighter on the palette than big reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Pinot Noir pairs well with roast poultry, game birds, cold cuts of meat, venison, and cool spring evenings!
Try: Chamonix Reserve Pinot Noir | Haute Cabrière Unwooded Pinot Noir (chilled on warmer days) or Pinot Noir Reserve (on cooler days) | Vrede en Lust Pinot Noir
Rosé or Blanc de Noir
Rosé wine isn’t from a specific grape or region, it’s a genre of wine, like red or white. The biggest producers by volume are France, Spain, and Italy but many excellent examples are made in South Africa. Most Rosé wines are made from blends of multiple grapes, although the Franschhoek Valley is home to many Rosés made from single varietals like Grenache, Merlot, and Pinotage.
Try: Allée Bleue Starlette Shiraz Rosé | Babylonstoren Mourvèdre Rosé 2016 | Bellingham Strawberry Rosé | Haute Cabrière Pierre Jourdan Tranquille | Holden Manz Rosé | La Couronne Merlot Rosé
Your favourite wine
At the end of the day, the most suitable wine for any occasion is your favourite wine, whether it’s a minty Zinfandel, a creamy Viognier, or a leathery Cabernet Sauvignon. Our suggestions here are for those curious to explore the wonderful wines the Franschhoek Valley has to offer and particularly those slightly off-the-beaten-track wines that are often overlooked, such as the Pinot Grigio and Malbec. Your favourite wine can be enjoyed all year round irrespective of the season!