• Gone are hot days by the pool nursing a crisp white, or starry nights braaing with nothing more than a silky-tannic red to keep you warm – unless a trip further up north is on the cards. Autumn is well and truly upon us, and with it comes a fantastic excuse and opportunity to indulge in all kinds of hitherto undiscovered wine varietals and styles.

    In the Cape, we go through what is probably the gentlest of autumns: The noon-time hours still afford us enough sunshine to whip out some lively white wines – especially during freak heat waves – while the evenings give us the perfect opportunity to tuck into hearty meals and big reds.

    If you’re looking to refresh your winter wine wardrobe this year, check these gems out:

    For those warmer days when you want to relive summer:

    Avondale Cyclus – this is a white blend on steroids: perhaps an inappropriate analogy considering this is made by one of the most biologically and ecologically conscious wine farms in the country. It’s made up of Viognier, Rousanne, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon – in that order. A fresher, cleaner and purer taste you won’t find in a wine. So well balanced and integrated, this wine is full of citrus, stone fruit and floral notes.

    MAN Chenin Blanc – one of my top Chenins at the moment, this is a fresh, lively and zippy number, full of citrus notes with a clean finish. Need I say more?

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    Good for just about any temperature or occasion:

    Sutherland Pinot Noir – Sutherland is Thelema wines’ vineyard up in Elgin, so it’s only right that they’ve made a wonderful cool climate Pinot Noir. This is a light-medium bodied wine, with gentle tannins and a great combination of fruit, earthy and smoky flavours. Great in all weathers, with all foods and for either lunch or dinner.

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    Something sophisticated and spicy for when you want to warm up:

    Syrah (the same varietal as Shiraz, just made in less bold and fruity fashion) is one varietal I’ve been getting to know better – and I’m loving it. Syrah isn’t a showy wine: it’s all about black pepper, dark fruit and sometimes leathery flavours. It’s usually medium in both body and tannin, so ideal if you’re drinking it without food. Dorrance wines does a superb one which tastes of sour cherry. If you’re after bolder wine, go for a Shiraz. Raka’s Biography Shiraz and Waterford’s Kevin Arnold Shiraz are both beautiful wines that rich and velvety.

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    Wooded whites for when it’s cold but a red won’t do:

    You might associate cold weather with red wine, but sometimes a full-bodied wooded white wine will do just as well. Newton Johnson’s Chardonnay is a beautiful choice made in a Burgundian style (Burgundy in France is the homeland of Chardonnay wines). Dorrance also does a chardonnay that’s bursting with buttery, vanilla, lemon curd and apple flavours – if you like your wines wooded, this one’s for you.

    Getting back to our SA root(stock)s with a bottle of Pinotage:

    I’m having a bit of a Pinotage renaissance at the moment. I stayed away after having a few not so nice ones, but MAN’s Pinotage brought me back into the fold. Jacobsdal’s Pinotage is another corker to try. A subdued and refined Pinotage brimming with herbal and medicinal notes, rather than the jammy flavours some of the cheaper Pinotage wines offer up.

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    B Vintners Pinotage is another one made in the more elegant, Old-world fashion. And then there’s Diermesfontein’s Reserve Pinotage. The glorious coffee flavours go fantastically with chocolate. If you’re a chocoholic and love your wine, check out my wine and chocolate pairing video, which features the Diemersfontein Pinotage paired with Honest Chocolate’s coffee infused choccie. Yum.

    To see Caroline in action and learn more about wine, check out her YouTube channel The Glass and Barrel.

    Photography courtesy Caroline Knight and MAN Family Wines

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