Tag Archives: viognier


14 Jun

So, the FIFA World Cup has begun. Footie fans are running amuck, drinking at 10 a.m. and sticking flags out of their cars. I may not make friends here, but I like football football. As in big, burly men crushing into one another, Hail Mary’s and the latest gossip about Brett Favre’s return (or retirement – depends on the week). In order to get through a month of soccer hijacking the sports channel, I’m going to do what I do best… drink.

Did you know that World Cup host South Africa has a wine history that dates back 1652?!? I sure didn’t.

Way back then, these crazy bunch of Dutch traders decided that they’d had enough of the Portugese monopoly over the Cape sea route (they really liked spices, okay?) and so Jan van Riebeeck was tasked to grow a garden and supplies for their ships that would stop along their travels.

Vines were imported in 1655, and there’s even six acres of that original planting preserved in a botanical garden today. Finally, in 1659, our adventurous and hardworking Jan wrote a sweet little diary entry that read:

“Today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape grapes, and the new must was tested fresh from the vat.”

You just know Jan and his buddies got a little tipsy and someone shaved someone’s eyebrow.

From that storied history comes a great wave of wine. There’s the impressive cross-pollintaion of Pinot Noir and Hermitage that created Pinotage, the first uniquely South African grape variety and in 1965, the single largest selling branded wine in the world, Lieberstein. And South African wines have just continued to get better and better.

I thought I’d share two stand outs from the 16 participants at the SA tasting I was lucky enough to attend last week on the eve of kick-off. (It is kick-off, isn’t it?) Hopefully, you’ll either enjoy them with your favourite team’s match, or in place of having one.

Ken Forrester ’09 Chenin Blanc (VINTAGES 2011, $15.95)

A great full wine with a lot going on. Baked apple pie is the first thing I recognized on the nose, but it has layers of melon, honey and carmel. It’s an approachable, everyday drinking wine that can shake up your obsessive Pinot Grigio habit. It’s not too sweet, nor too oaky. It’s just, honestly, delightful. It’s definitely on my list and it should be on yours.

Graham Beck ’09 Chardonnay/Viognier (#140608, $11.95)

Seriously, just go try this bottle. It’s a great price and I’m in love with Viognier right now. It cuts the Chard so nicely, and adds such a great nose and interesting other layer to this wine. You get citrus from the Chardonnay, peaches from the Viognier. If you haven’t tried this grape, get out there and do it. Trust me.