Sign of the Wines: Two South African Wines Worth Your Time

It’s sometimes hard to put into words, why a certain wine is easy to drink.

We all have different tastes after all.

Whether by character or terroir, maker or pairing, wine lovers try and convince the uninitiated that their vino recommendation is not only exquisite, but makes for easy drinking too.

Radford Dale and Jordan Wines have a catalogue suited as much to private collectors, as casual wine drinkers. So, as the tides of wine temperaments change, and restaurants mark new seasons with fresh bottle curations, here are two South African wines worth your time…

Radford Dale Gamay Noir 2021 | $11.13 – ZAR198

 “There are less than 10 hectares of Gamay currently planted in the Cape.”

Radford Dale. 2022.

In the wine world, the old vintages tend to be coveted above all – justifiable as experts extol the virtues of wines produced in the most fascinating conditions and which are unmarred by contemporary climate change.

However, winemakers who understand the evolving wine-drinking market also understand being exciting with their latest selections, and the zealous winery Radford Dale is no different.

The Vinum Gamay Noir comes off of the estate’s first plantings of the Gamay varietal in South Africa, in over 20 years, and within an area (in the Stellenbosch appellation) held sacrosanct to them for its past and the winemaker’s plans for the future.

From the first pour, your glass of Vinum Gamay Noir will be painted in a deep purple. Catch the light and you’ll salivate at its Violet rim.

The first sniff (the obligatory tradition even the uninitiated know of) permeates the nose with notes of raspberry, the much-beloved mulberry, and evokes any number of dark-red fruits through its aroma.

Its oak barrel fermentation and maturation comes up too, to those awaiting a visibly strong Reds woodsy reputation to precede it.

What I missed on my first sniff of the Vegan-friendly, but caught on my second sip, was hints of gunflint (think wet stone or prominent minerality) – the Radford Dale winemakers doubling down on this vintage’s uniqueness, once again, with a choice not many estates make for their wines.

The result is something with fresh character, though fortified with steady wine ideals.

Whether you’re enjoying the 11.5% alcohol on its own, or paired with a meal or snack (I recommend a rich stew, some Camembert, or even popcorn), Radford Dale‘s Gamay Noir is generous in its contemporary elegance, gentle with its ultra-fine tannin, and rewards the drinker with what the winemaker says is a “medium weight” wine with a full finish.

I just say it’s worth your time!

Jordan Wines Timepiece Chenin Blanc 2019|$23.84 – ZAR360

Jordan Wines Timepiece Chenin Blanc 2019 is of a heritage-driven wine range greenlit by Gary and Kathy Jordan, and it hits your palate refreshingly, like a fresh burst of cool water. Some would say it’s owed to the winery choosing a cooler, south–facing aspect (also in the Stellenbosch appellation) in order to scoop up white-skinned grape varieties that bring a unique semblance to a bottle.

Pop open this Chenin Blanc and, immediately, the calculating (and somewhat soulful) choreography of Jordan Wines bottled 2019 design becomes prominent.

It’s beautiful, heady, and clear on the nose and tongue – having used the sensitive and aromatic result of the grapes sea level elevation, plus the attributes of the loam and decomposed granite soil, to produce something worthy of the Jordan Wines founder, Ted Jordan, stamp on the Timepiece’s exclusive boxing.

It’s an anomaly for me to drink wine without food, but this Chenin is fit for even leisurely sipping solo.

Think seafood and Charcuterie if you want to pair this floral and quince-noted Chenin for your next sip.

I have never really been too fond of what fermentation and maturation in oak barrels alone does to most wines. However, there is something scintillating about the Timepiece Chenin Blanc having been matured in a combination of older French oak barrels and clay amphora (which can be credited for the wine’s richness), which produced a fine wine structure I can stomach, and recommend!

As your tastebuds are engaged, the green & gold-tinged wine honestly charms with its orchard fruit flavour, herbaceous angelica aroma, and the prominence of its single-vineyard old-vine terroir. You can taste where it comes from, and how it came to be, but not so disjointed a production path that the flavours and aromas don’t marry by the time you’re sipping.

The bodied dry wine is pleasant on the nose and tongue, with bright acidity; and the finish is something guaranteed to pair well with a Root Vegetable dish, Scallops, or Tuna Tartare.

Worth your time? More than somewhat!

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