Sipping white wine on South African winter days
Glass of Wine
A sip of wine for an Autumn Monday.
What is your favourite autumn and winter wine?
Over the years of living in the Western Cape, I have been lucky to taste many wines and work with many superb winemakers and wine farms. The South African wine market is rife with options and excellent quality wine.
My favourite is white wine. I love opening red wine in the colder months, but we have a summer climate ideal to taste all the white wine varieties available.
Stellenboch is the famous wine region in the Western Cape stretching into Franschoek and beyond. You will find wine farms along the coast into Agulhas at Elim and up into West Coast in Lamberts bay. There are excellent wine regions in Carletsdorp close to Mosselbaai and George on the garden route.
South African wine has evolved from the traditional cultivars like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay to lesser-known varietals grown in the Swartland and beyond.
Grapes like Grenache, Roussanne, Verdelho, Clairette Blanche and Pinot Gris.
Let’s look at some of the scarcer wine varietals grown and produced in South Africa.
Scarce South African wine varietals
Pinot Gris is on the radar. It is a scarce wine varietal, but you can buy Pinot Gris made in South Africa.
The white wine grape variety originates from France. A mutation of pinot noir, Pinot Gris, originated in Burgundy in the Middle Ages and was rediscovered in 1711 in Germany.
Pinot Gris characteristics are dry, semi-sweet or sweet.
It is a white wine with rose colours on the grape. The white wine is rich and slightly spicy. Pinot Gris dry wine pairs well with creamier cheese varieties. Fresh mozzarella is perfect. Pinot Gris wine can be perfumed or neutral, dry, off-dry or sweet, oaked or unoaked, light, medium or full-bodied.
Medium-bodied Pinot Gris are delicious sipped solo or enjoyed with seared or grilled fish and simple oven-roasted chicken. A complex Pinot Gris pairs well with meaty fish, cream sauces, rich veal, chicken, pork dishes, and lamb.
Pinot Gris wine in South Africa
Pinot Gris is perfect for enjoying on a mild summers day on the balcony. You can buy Pinot Gris made by De Grendel wines, Bosman Family Vineyards Pinot Gris, Craven Pinot Gris, Lýsa Pinot Gris and Usana
Runaway Pinot Gris, to name a few.
Grenache blanc is a variety of white wine grape that is related to the red grape Grenache. The wine varietal grows primarily in Rhône, France and northeast Spain. A Grenache Blanc is characterized by high alcohol and low acidity, with citrus notes.
Grenache Blanc is originally from Spain. It is a dry white wine with blanc berry skin colour.
The flavour of Grenache Blanc has a luscious texture with aromas of apple, white flowers, followed by flavours of green apple, honeydew melon, lemon, apricot and herbs with subtle mineral notes.
The secret to complementing food with Grenache Blanc is to consider its spiced hints and rich texture. But, don’t go too spicy. The spice will overpower your wine.
Grenache Blanc pair well with more decadent full-flavoured dishes like bouillabaisse, oily fish like sardines, tuna, mackerel and roast pork.
If you want to pair cheese with Grenache Blanc, baked goat cheese is perfect.
Grenache Blanc wine in South Africa
You can buy Grenache Blanc in South Africa, Maestro White Demorgenzon, Estate Reserve White Nobil Hill, Bloencool Ploegperd, Blokhuis Truter family wines, Kalmoesfontein White blend AA Badenhorst, Nativo White Blend, Momento Grenache Blanc, Grenache Blanc Neil Joubert wines, White City on a Hill and Bloencool Haasbek.
Roussanne is a white wine grape grown and blended originally in the Rhône wine region in France. It is the only other white variety, besides Marsanne, allowed in the northern Rhône area. France has strict rules about what you are allowed to grow in each region.
Roussanne grows in various wine-growing regions of the New World, such as California, Washington, Texas, South Africa and Australia.
The berries are distinguished by their russet colour when ripe. Roux is French for the reddish-brown colour russet and is the root for the variety’s name.
The aroma of Roussanne compares well to a flowery herbal tea. It produces rich wines in warm climates, with flavours of honey and pear. In cooler temperatures, it is more floral and more delicate, with higher acidity.
It is a complex variety to grow in many regions, vulnerable to mildew, poor resistance to drought and wind, late and uneven ripening, and irregular yields.
Roussane food pairings
Roussanne pair well with pate, roast chicken, pork, veal, cream sauces, spicy flavours, and a vast array of different soft and hard cheeses.
Roussane wine in South Africa
You can buy Roussanne in South Africa, Roussane Hazendal estate, Roussane Sutherland, Roussane The Foundry, Roussane Rustenberg, Fairview Roussane and Painted Wolf Paarl Roussanne.
Verdelho is a white wine grape grown throughout Portugal, though most associated with the island of Madeira. At the turn of the 20th century, it was the most widely planted white grape in Madeira.
The grape qualities are Dry or Semi-sweet or Sweet
Pairing Verdelho With Food
You don’t have to pair this wine with food. You can easily enjoy a bottle of Verdelho by itself. However, due to its character and fruity nature, it also pairs well with white fish, white meat and spicy Asian food.
Verdelho wine in South Africa
You can buy Verdelho in South Africa, Palladius Sadie family wines, Old vines white Mullineux, The Field blend Stark-conde wines, Saskia white Miles Mossop, Laurens Campher Muratie wines, Momento wines, Jasper Raad’s single-vineyard, Vagabond The Fledge & co and Cremello Cavalli estate.
Clairette Blanche is a white wine grape variety most widely grown in Provence, Rhône and Languedoc in France. Clairette Blanche volumes are down. However, less and less, Clairette Blanche grows in France today.
Clairette Blanche is an up-right and vigorous grower that is sensitive to wind. It can be cultivated as both bush vine or as a trellised grower and prefers well-drained deep fertile soils in cool regions. Clairette Blanche demands irrigation.
The wine is dry or sometimes a bit sweeter with white colour.
Pair Clairette Blanc with many different types of seafood and many vegetable dishes. However, it’s a perfect match for shellfish and soft and hard cheeses. Clairette Blanc grows best in warm weather and limestone soils.
Clairette Blanche wine in South Africa
You can buy the following Clairette Blanche in South Africa, Old vines white Mullineux, Saski white Miles Mossop and Thirst Clairette Radford Dale.The white wine grape variety originates from France.
The protea flower is South Africa’s national flower.
Giant or king protea – Protea cynaroides
The giant or king protea, distributed in the southwestern and southern areas of the Western Cape, from the Cedarberg up to just east of Grahamstown, is South Africa’s national flower.
The artichoke-like appearance of the flower-heads of the king protea leads to the specific name ‘cynaroides’, which means ‘like cynara’ (the artichoke). Several varieties in colour and leaf shapes exist. The most beautiful protea is the pink coloured flower.
The South African protea flowers inspire many artists, writers, filmmakers and content creators across South Africa.
The South Africa national cricket team, also known as the Proteas, represents South Africa in men’s International cricket.
Autumn Portrait by the Sea
Autumn breeze by the sea
Photographing portraits by the sea on the West Coast in South Africa is picturesque, breezy and full of colour.
The sun is high, casting strong shadows during the entire day. Early in the morning, the light is crisp and clear on the Westcoat, but West Coast days can be misty also.
It is a dry landscape with a unique beauty attracting many film crews worldwide.
The sunsets are spectacular, with the sun hovering over the Atlantic ocean. In summer and winter, the sunset colours are punchy orange with pastel colours illuminating the sky.
If you photograph portraits on the beach, a yacht or a deck, the backlight is playful and romantic, adding flair to all your photographs.
I love photographing portraits during the entire year on the West Coast of South Africa.