While most of us spend the first month of the New Year with empty pockets due to overspending during the festive season – we might as well rename it Januworry – we are only halfway through summer and there are still plenty of hot days and balmy evenings left to enjoy while knocking back a refreshing glass of cold white vino. So how do you ensure a stocked fridge during this worrisome, cash-strapped month? (After all, just to get through it, we need more wine, not less.)
Most wine lovers have developed a taste for pricier wines but not all of us can afford to be wine snobs all year round. Besides, it’s a mistake to stick to what you know and ignore wines you’ve never tried – sometimes specifically for the reason that they are cheaper and must therefore taste awful. Not so!
After doing some research of my own and consulting our local wine gurus, Tourism Manager Frieda Lloyd, Jacques le Roux of The Wine Glass and the Du Toits of Wine Village, I’ve managed to track down some gorgeous great whites at under R100 a bottle (in some cases, way under!).
Sticking to Sauvignon Blanc, which is most wine drinkers’ go-to summer quaff, you should, primarily for the sake of your wallet but by no means to the detriment of your palate, try the following:
- Ashbourne Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay – a refreshing, aromatic, vibrant and easy-drinking wine from our own valley which, according to Cathy du Toit of Wine Village, has been one of their top sellers this season. (The distinctive art deco label is a winner, too.)
- Cape Atlantic Sauvignon Blanc – an entry-level wine made by acclaimed winemaker, David Nieuwoudt. This crisp, zesty wine pairs well with seafood and poultry. (After pay day you could upgrade to David’s Cederberg Sauvignon Blanc or the exquisite Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc.)
- Slanghoek Sauvignon Blanc – a well-rounded, balanced and fruity wine that is a real crowd pleaser. You could also try their Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay; the latter was voted one of Winemag’s Best Value wines in 2019.
- Van Loveren Sauvignon Blanc – a hugely popular wine, with good reason. Aromatic, robust and full-bodied, it can be enjoyed with a wide variety of food, including tuna, salmon, seafood, creamy pastas and chicken.
- Protea Sauvignon Blanc – an easy-drinking wine with generous tropical flavours from the prestigious Franschhoek cellar, Anthonij Rupert. The gorgeous bottle designs of the Protea range (you could also try the Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio) are becoming a collectors’ items.
- Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc – a fresh, light-bodied wine with soft tropical fruit that goes well with seafood and summer salads. The Chenin Blanc is delicious, too, crisp and vibrant. The perfect summer quaffs that won’t break the bank.
- Balance Sauvignon Blanc – a no-nonsense wine for every-day drinking, screw cap and all. It pairs well with fresh, light flavours, especially Asian-inspired food. You could also try the Chenin Blanc, which I think is rather awesome and pairs exceptionally well with oysters (if you can afford them right now!).
- Groot Phesantekraal Sauvignon Blanc – brimming with luscious, tropical fruit, this is another value-for-money wine that goes down a treat with fish and seafood.
- Oak Valley Fountain of Youth Sauvignon Blanc – a wine bursting with a beautiful depth of fruit. Aided by a small component of Semillon, this typically elegant cool climate wine from Elgin also comes with a cool price tag.
- Seven Springs Sauvignon Blanc – a seriously seductive wine with a fresh, green character that was awarded 4.5 Platter stars last year. I know I’m cheating because this wine is priced as just over R100, but it’s just too good not to mention. Ditto the Seven Springs Unwooded Chardonnay.
Other fun recommendations for great whites by Wine Village (and we may be moving slightly beyond my self-imposed R100 per bottle bracket here) include: Two Dogs, a Peacock and a Horse Sauvignon Blanc; Grootte Post Sea Salter Sauvignon Blanc (5 Platter stars); Die Kat en die Snor Sauvignon Blanc; Hermanuspietersfontein Kaalvoet Meisie; Wijnskool Sauvignon Blanc; Miss Lucy Pinot Grigio; Villion Blanc de l’Atlantique; Beaumont Chenin Blanc; Domaine des Dieux Chardonnay; Creation Viognier; and Marié, a private label by Whalehaven winemaker, Reino Thiart, which is a heavenly blend of Rousanne, Clairette Blanche and Viognier.
Over at The Wine Glass, which offers 96 wines and 12 bubblies (all from local wineries, from Botrivier to Agulhas) by the glass, you can try out any of these premium wines, either, as co-owner Jacques le Roux says, to see what all the hoo-haa is about or to calibrate your own palate. He also points out that the smart option would be to invest in trying out those wines that you could not easily find by the glass anywhere else or would typically not risk buying a bottle of, especially if it falls in the premium price range. So you could use The Wine Glass to do your ‘research’, as it were, before making your purchase.
A few wines on Jacques’ personal list of recommendation are The Berrio Weather Girl and Hermanuspietersfontein Kat met die Hout Been (both Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon blends); Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc; Strandveld Pofadderbos Sauvignon Blanc; Villion Henning Chenin Blanc; Beaumont Hope Marguerite (wooded Chenin Blanc), a consistent 5 star Platter winner; Lötter Family Wines Chardonnay; Crystallum The Agnes Chardonnay; Newton Johnson Family Vineyards Chardonnay; and Hamilton Russell Estate Chardonnay.
We really are spoilt for choice in our neck of the woods, surrounded as we are by several wine routes and countless wineries producing quality wines to suit every pocket and palate. Why not be a bit more adventurous? Move out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons and discover your new personal favourites this summer. Happy quaffing!