Wines for Spring

Sunshine harvest: a South African worker picks grapes in the Durbanville hills, a few miles outside Cape Town. Photograph: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

by David Williams, The Guardian, April 27, 2016

Boutinot Percheron Old Vines Cinsaut, Western Cape, South Africa 2014 (from £5.95, The Wine Society; Slurp; Noel Young Wines) If you’re looking for lighter reds that might fit in with spring-like moods and food, the heat and dust in the heart of South Africa’s winelands may not seem the most obvious place to start your search. But the Cape’s winemakers are working with a much wider stylistic palette these days. Old vines of the previously unloved southern French variety cinsaut, for example, are now behind some notably juicier, fresher styles. The current vintage of one of the UK’s best-value spring-into-summer reds, with its whiff of pretty red berries and cherries, is now available in numerous independent merchants up and down the country.

Carlos Costoya Alodio Joven Ribeira Sacra, Spain 2015 (from £11.50, Chester Beer & Wine; Just Galician Wines) To the British visitor, Galicia, with its Atlantic-influenced climate, rocky bays and Celtic culture, can feel like a kind of Iberian Cornwall. But, in wine terms, it has much in common with the Loire, dealing as it does in bracing aromatic whites (for sauvignon blanc read albariño) and, to a lesser extent, light, bright, crunchy reds. Mencía, once thought to be a relation of cabernet franc, is the main red variety here, and in Alodio Joven it’s mixed – by Carlos Costoya, a fine artist by trade – with the more obscure merenzao and brancellao into a distinctively wild, earthy, cherry scented, fluent and spring fresh original.

Domaine de la Noblaie Chinon, France 2013 (from £11.50, Haynes, Hanson & Clark; Halifax Wine Company) Freshness and verve are the characteristics of the wines of the Loire Valley. It’s what makes the region’s sauvignon blanc whites the vinous equivalent of a splash in a woodland stream. The cabernet franc reds can have some of that quality, too: a racy feel that combines with red fruit that feels, in a good way, only just ripe. Two I’ve enjoyed come from a single producer in the region’s best-known appellation, around Chinon. The 2014 Le Temps des Cerises (£8.95, The Wine Society) is brighter and more filled with that summer pudding fruit; the 2013 Domaine de la Noblaie lighter and crunchier. Both are incisively delicious right now.

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This article was written by David Williams from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.