I don’t mind sharing with you that last week was arguably the crappiest of the entire year so far. I’d compare the last couple of days to a papercut. Between your toes. Nothing that would kill you but unbearable, unpleasant and downright unnecessary.
But I won’t turn the post into a diary entry of a moody, sulking teenager.
I only mention it because I realised again this week that in the midst of our daily crises and frustrations where seemingly everything that can go wrong actually does, it’s the small mercies and the little joys that keep us going. For many of us, wine is simply one of those little joys.
And with summer approaching and the wine shelves filled with the most fantastically interesting wines, wine lovers are in for a great couple of months. In searching for some wine-based escapism this week, I plunged into some interesting finds in the lighter red and rosé categories. I don’t usually write “best of” or “themed” wine lists but I think this is worth delving into – I’m also counting on some crowdsourcing in the comments for a few must-try suggestions…hint, hint.
The first two gems are likely to be my summer staple wines – both from The Winery of Good Hope. The very moreish Thirst Cinsault is a buy-by-the-case-bonanza. Unfined and unfiltered, this puppy is a party in the mouth. Low-alcohol, lighter than a summer’s breeze and more than enough subtle complexity to discern it from soccer-mom poolside tipples. I may or may not have it in my glass right now.
The Thirst Gamay Noir is next on the list. Another low-alcohol gem (by nature rather than by design), pinkish purple and sitting pretty, bursts with strawberries and cranberries and had just the right balance of tannin and acid to keep it crisp and clean.
The always impressive Craven Pinot Noir is another staple – great for al fresco lunches or when sultry sundowners turn into cool summer nights. It just happens to be low alcohol too (an unintended trend that seems to characterise this list so far) and is one of the most drinkable, accessible (if slightly atypical) examples of Pinot Noir around. Red cherries everywhere but a backbone of slight fragrant spice makes this a delectable addition to the list.
I suppose no summer wine list would be complete without some pretty pink rosé examples. I would refer anyone to the Rosé Rocks Top 10 list – having judged the competition, I’m happy to report that they’re all worth a second look (there’s even a really good sweet one in there to keep the syrup-lovers happy). The Tamboerskloof Katharien came up tops (and deservingly so) – a Syrah rosé with restrained fruit and a touch of spice. Starts out quite tight, so could actually use a touch of decanting to open it up a bit. And if you’re looking for a pink bubbly to knock some socks off, the one that came up tops at the competition was the Villiera Brut Rosé that is made exclusively for Woolworths – it was also my personal top pick of the crop.
Other must-quaff pinkies for your summer shopping list are the Vondeling rosé (pale pink perfection made from Merlot, it’s crisp and refreshing with candied citrus notes intertwined with the expected red fruits), the Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos (made from a blend of varietals, salmon pink in colour, all the red berries you could ask for but great balance and structure to remind you it’s a really great wine) and the Delheim Pinotage Rosé which has something about it (maybe the drop of Muscat?) that just keeps me coming back to it – good concentration and a great finish, this one does well with lots of chilling without losing it’s character.
Feel free to agree, disagree or (and this is where the crowdsourcing bit comes in) add more suggestions in the comments below – I’ve not even scratched the surface but I am prepared to take upon myself the grueling task of tasting my way through any and all similar offerings.