Let’s start in South Africa with the Chenin Blanc from Spier ($16). Considered a chameleon white-wine grape, Chenin Blanc originated in France’s Loire Valley and is the most widely planted varietal in South Africa.
The Spier bottling is on the dry side and boasts a lively acidity coupled with a luxurious mouthfeel and a long finish. With a nose favouring lemon and mango, and the palate offering notes of peach and apricot, this is an ideal patio guest.
Another less-common white is Ehrenfelser, a German varietal that does very well in the Okanagan Valley. Based in Oliver, the Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery has always had a bit of a European accent, so it’s not surprising that their off-dry version of Ehrenfelser is a multiple award-winner. Seductive floral aromas lead to a lush palate of peaches, pears, kiwi and apricots lifted with hints of citrus. Vibrant and delightful, this is a bargain at $17.25.
Another good-value white hails from Chile’s Santa Carolina Winery. Their Reserva Sauvignon Blanc offers all the zingy refreshment you’d expect from this varietal, while its orchard-fruit aromas and palate of melon, grapefruit and lime offer excellent food-pairing options for everything from grilled chicken to richly sauced fish just off the grill. Crisp but not too sharp, this is a yummy, well-made wine. At $16, why not grab an armful?
And let’s end with a splurge: the Pirramimma Shiraz ($34.50). Although most famous for their Petit Verdot, McLaren Vale’s Pirramimma can do marvelous things with Shiraz, that most eminently Australian of varietals.
Ripe and dense, this lushly full-bodied wine offers much to the hedonist: an enticingly complex bouquet followed by deep, palate-coating flavours of plum, cherry, cassis, chocolate and licorice. One sip and you’ll be begging for an inch-thick striploin slathered in peppercorn sauce. This is drinking beautifully now, but will cellar for several years.
(All prices include tax.)