Matching wine with barbeque is never the easiest task. But then add in a bit of kudu or Braaibroodie and you could be forgiven for throwing in the towel. So it was at the WOSA Winemaker Braai in London when, after a long day at the New Wave South Africa tasting, winemakers showed how their wines could match their national ‘dish’ – barbequed meat, and lots of it. Toothpick in hand, Chris Wilson went along for the ride and picked his 6 best Braai-matching wines as well as listened to the winemakers hopes and fears – that largely were based around the Rugby World Cup. (Do they play rugby over there? – Ed)
Unsurprisingly four of the six best wines for a Braai are reds, one a Chard and the other an entry level MCC sparkler.
Last September the Brits invaded South Africa for the Cape Wine trade show.
Every vineyard, winery, wine bar, gin bar and shebeen between Cape Town and Stellenbosch was overrun by the British wine trade, eager to taste wines in the winemakers’ backyard and soak up the unique atmosphere and eye-watering beauty of the Cape winelands and the city itself.
This September it was payback time as the Cape’s best winemakers descended upon the UK for a week of tastings, dinners, events, impromptu pints, and plenty of laughs.
The broad grins and inimitable swagger of the South African scene was out in force at WOSA’s Winemaker Braai tasting and dinner at Farringdon’s Hammer & Tongs where winemakers and journalists rubbed shoulders and shared tales over a 50-wine free-pour tasting and classic SA braai.
As well as tasting a selection of world-beating wines, it was a great opportunity to learn a little bit more about South African food (who knew that the Braaibroodjie existed and that it is so damn tasty) and hear first-hand the hopes and fears of some the winemakers in attendance.
Hopes:Premium Chenin, serious MCC, acceptance of esoteric grapes and blends, lighter Pinotage, a South African victory at the Rugby World Cup
Fears:Further drought, currency fluctuations, lack of an identity on the international stage, choking at the Rugby World Cup
It was a riotous evening and showed just how strong the relationship between Britain and SA is, whether that’s chatting about wine, food, politics, rugby or anything in between. Roll on the next Cape Wine fixture…
Six great Braai-matching wines from South Africa
Graham Beck Brut, Western Cape, NV (Bibendum)
Could MCC (Methodé Cap Classique) be South Africa’s secret weapon? On this evidence, why not? This entry-level sparkler is bright and fresh with a mouth-filling gush of bubbles and tree fruit. Apples and pears abound in this simple but enlivening wine, with just a dash of nuttiness to keep it interesting.
Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde, 2016 (Seckford)
A delicately aged Chardonnay from Walker’s Bay famous ‘heaven and earth’ valley. The estate-grown fruit spends 11 months in oak and goes through full MLF which adds texture and spice to the pear and melon fruit. A dash of hazelnut works wonders with the limey acidity.
Waterkloof Circumstance Cape Coral Mourvédre Rosé, Stellenbosch, 2018 (Boutinot)
Dry-farmed on the Waterfloof estate, where Mourvédre is the most planted grape, this is a sleek rosé with a nod to Provence in style. There’s cranberry and strawberry fruit and a creamy, rounded lick, thanks in part to the six months or so this spends on the lees.
La Bri Affinity, Franschhoek, 2015 (PDN Wines)
A classic Bordeaux blend from the hot Franschhoekvalley comprising 40% Cabernet, 31% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. This is robust and forthright with dark fruit and a cherry boot-polish note. The tannins are grippy and twinned with spice and an earthy complexity.
Perdeberg Dry Land Collection Resolve Pinotage, Paarl, 2017 (Boutinot)
This fleshy Pinotage comes from unirrigated bush vines. It’s a juicy fruit bomb with black and red fruit, sweet tobacco and spice. Fine tannins and a tight structure make it sumptuous, long and generous. A modern-day Pinotage to celebrate.
De Kleine Wijn Koop Hoendertande, Piekenierskloof, 2018 (Hard to Find Wines)
‘The little wine co-op’ sources fruit from around the Cape and makes a series of small-batch wines including this 100% Grenache, of which just one barrel was made. It’s chewy and mineral with strawberry cordial, red cherry and red peppercorn characters. Velvet like from first sip to close; it’s subtle but complex.