Skip to content

Column: Sampling some summer sippers

Wines from South Africa to Australia
Summer Sippers
Three delicious wines that are made for summer enjoyment.

These summer sippers are very timely as the sun keeps on shining its sunny rays down on us. And they’re on sale until the end of July!

South Africa has a love affair with Chenin Blanc and one of the better examples is Ken Forrester Vineyards 2019 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc ($20.49 on sale; “A/A+” rating).

This vibrant and fruity white originates in Stellenbosch, the largest and oldest  premium South African wine region. Winery owner, Ken Forrester is known as Mr. Chenin Blanc because his wines have received national and international acclaim.

Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most popular white varietal. The Forrester reveals a generous aroma of tree fruit and citrus with subtle overtones of spice, flowers, and herbs. It’s tart with ripe flavours of quince, lime and lemon, with honeysuckle, ginger, tarragon, and a long dry finish.

The Forrester Chenin Blanc is great with this season’s fresh sockeye salmon grilled with Jamaican rum, brown sugar, and ginger. It’s also tasty with fresh pea and lentil soup garnished with fried chicken breast. Ken Forrester 2019 Chenin Blanc is available at BC Liquor Stores.

From South Africa, let’s head to South Australia. This driest state in the driest country on earth is the leading Australian wine producer and regions like the Barossa and McLaren Vale are among the best. But now add Adelaide Hills to regions whose wines are worth pursuing.

On the outskirts of South Australia’s charming capital, Adelaide, the Hills are a picturesque region that decades ago was known for its fruit orchards. Now it’s recognized for its vineyards, wineries, and wine. From that new region comes Penfolds Max’s 2017 Chardonnay in a silver wrapped bottle ($19.21 on sale, $6.20 off; “A” rating).

The Max is named after Max Schubert, Penfold’s Chief Winemaker for 27 years who created the iconic Penfold’s Grange. The Grange is one of the most expensive and highly rated reds from Australia. This affordable 2017 Max Chardonnay has a buttery toasted vanilla nose with tree fruit and citrus. On the palate there’s peach, apple, and toasted hazelnuts with amazing acidity (because the Hills is a cool climate area) with a medium body and a lingering lemon zest finish.

Like most days for the past month, yesterday was a hot day. We decided not to cook and ordered our favourite Italian pizza from nearby Steveston Pizza. Instead of choosing a red, I reached for the Max Chardonnay and the wine paired beautifully with the pizza. Who says you have to drink red wines with pizza! Available at Ironwood and Brighouse BCLS.

From South Australia, we finally end up in Southern Spain, The 2016 Castillo de Almansa Reserva from Spain ($14.99 on sale; “A/A+” rating). Spanish reds represent great value and you can get wines like the Almansa that are old and mature and less than $20.

The Almansa Reserva is a blend of Tempranillo, Monastrell, and Garnacha grapes and aged for a year in oak. The red’s deep colour indicates there’s some substance in this wine. The nose reveals seductive aromas of violets, cinnamon, cloves along with red fruit and wood. There are velvety tannins with this medium bodied red with flavours of cherries, plums, leather and toasted oak. Delicious with grilled fresh salmon. Who says you can’t serve red wine with fish! It helps if the fish has some red or pink colouration and deeper flavour to match the wine’s character.

The 2016 Castillo de Almansa was awarded the 2019 Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial in Brussels. This wine competition is billed as “The United Nations of Fine Wines.” 9150 wines from 46 countries entered the competition.  Spain led the way with 626 medals. The international panel of judges thought this red was excellent. For $14.99 it’s great value! Available at all Richmond BC Liquor Stores.