Whilst Hannibal used African elephants to invade Italy, here the pachyderm charge is the other way. Italian varieties like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera mixed with Pinot Noir and others to create a complex, cherry and red-fruity wine with a leathery complexity. Think of Italian food and you’re there – it loves tomatoes and herb-infused grills. This is a fascinating wine and an innovation from one of South Africa’s great producer.
This blew me away when I first tried it. A new frontier in South Africa’s distinctive style of Sauvignon Blanc, blending the exotic mango and lime fruit of the New World with the purity, elegance and great length of the Old. Don’t be afraid to pair this with flavoursome salads with coriander and lime and basil, perhaps soy-infused tuna or a spiced chicken dish. This is up there with the greats of Sauvignon Blanc.
We were lucky enough to drink this wine in Hong Kong whilst filming The Wine Show. And we loved it. It’s been a secret part of many wine merchants’ cellars for many years. Not just Potensac, a famously reliable and affordable chateau. But also 1995, a good year, comfortably in the lee of the more exuberant and pricey 1996. We had this with a Chinese meal and I have to tell you, it was delicious.
‘Lucky Vasse’ is the translation of this wine, named in honour of a drowned seaman with a legendary tale. Vasse Felix has its own tale, a pioneer in Western Australia, and now famed for some of the finest wines. This shows the estate’s noted bay leaf character over tight-knit currant, eucalypt and oak. But don’t drink it today. Enjoy it in 5, 10, 15 years with venison or a piece of top-quality fillet steak.
If you’ve not heard of Grechetto, remember that name. It’s the ‘interesting’ part of Orvieto, but was diluted out by other less distinguished grapes. Now it’s getting the spotlight for its nutty, ripe citrus and floral notes. Great with richer white meat pasta dishes and flavoursome paella, it has more interest than much Chardonnay, more food friendly character than Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio.
The village of Vosne (pronounced ‘vohn’) makes the greatest Pinot Noir in the world. Muscular and packed, they’re also elegant and refined and capable of great evolution. They’re also fickle, and everyone thought 2013 was a washout, but what was made turned out to be balanced and elegant. Boeuf Bourguignon is the way to go. Or some variation. But keep it simple for the wine to shine.
A wine that changed South Africa. Not just for being one of the first to be globally recognised as one of the great wines of the world. Anthony Hamilton-Russell and his family are steeped in radical politics and were pioneers in creating a post-Apartheid, equitable wine industry. Drink like a fine burgundy with white meats and firm-fleshed fish to complement the pear and citrus fruit and fine oak.