Someone told me once that wine is made in heaven and today I still believe this. Where else would the reference to ‘Angels’ tears’ come from? While not acquainted with first hand knowledge of it all, my fondest memories take me back to the hilltops of Pietmond, St Emillion, Tuscany, Provence and even those along the Rhine. Naturally, there is also the Bordeax escarpment, Australia’s Margaret River and other flat lying areas that produce stunning wines, but for me it shall never distract from a good Barolo or Montepulciano (and quiet understandably as red wines dislike heights – well that is what I thought before discovering the Barolo and Montepulciano Sangiovese examples).
Maybe I should qualify my statement by adding that there are wines produced at considerable heights and completely destroyed by terroir elements (normally the cold). Just think of all the countries producing wines closer to the 50° Northern Latitude.
So, what about South Africa? In this regard, my thoughts are very much the same, with my own favourites derived from Mulderbosch, Uva Mira, Iona, Grootte Post (Darling), with others from Elgin and Constantia, or the Durbanville Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay and Chenin (make sure you ad those from the hills of Durbanville, Paarl, Perdeberg and Saronsberg, in the Tulbach Pocket, to your basket). I almost forgot the Agulhas pocket as well as excellent examples from “Anderkant die Berg”. But then, these areas don’t have mountains per say.
When it comes to red wines, let me add that a Pinotage from Morkel, in the rather lower Bottelary Pocket, comes extremely close to destroying my philosophy. In such areas, other terroir elements dictate and requires fine designation for dry wines. Another Pinotage favourate is that of Rijks in Tulbach (the very best of the best).
Apart from Pinotage, what else is out there? One secret derives from George – Herold Wines, on the Montague Pass. This is the best local Pinot Noir I have tasted, and available at affordable prices to boot.
Good examples of Shiraz include those of Boschrivier, Raka (Kleine River Pocket), Annandale, Graceland, Stellenzicht (Stellenbosch), Domaine Brahms and Ridgeback (Paarl), and the new kid on the block, Creation (Walker Bay).
For a good Cabernet Franc, don’t miss out on the Swartskaap of Hermanus-Pietersfontein. While there are still Merlots and various other blends to discover, let’s draw the line for now. These suggestions are entirely personal – I am sure you can name a number of your own favourites too.
This time round, I am on my way to “Oporto” country where, I hope, they do have hills!
Remember, little compares with opening a good wine on special occasions. With life being such a celebration in itself, this should be every day!
Keep on lifting your glasses high.