Raise a glass to lekker local gifts from bountiful vines

IT’S THAT time of year again – jingling tills, tinsel everywhere, – and head-scratching for gift ideas for the VIP client, the mother-in-law and unexpected visitors bearing gifts.

Wine makes a great gift – it suits all ages (over 18 anyway), genders and occasions. It can be cheap ‘n cheerful or seriously impressive. It’s lekker, local, widely available and isn’t a mission to wrap – just pop it in a sparkly gift bag.

We asked some local wine trade fundis for their suggestions to suit various occasions and wallet-sizes.

If you’re out to impress, PE’s doyenne of wine Olga Hafner suggests Johann Rupert’s Cape of Good Hope Parel Vallei Merlot. The Cape of Good Hope range is the product of Rupert’s quest to find and preserve South Africa’s oldest vineyards. “The wines are unique, from select terroir, almost unknown farms in extraordinary locations,” says Olga.

Another out-of-the-ordinary option is Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc from Cederberg’s David Niewoudt. An intense, concentrated Sauvignon, it’s one of a handful of SA wines tapping into the trend for allowing wine to ferment spontaneously from naturally-occurring wild yeasts rather than injecting a commercial yeast culture.

For special Chardonnay-lovers, you won’t go wrong with Rupert & Rothschild Baroness Nadine or DeWetshof Bateleur – both superb examples of wood and fruit in perfect balance.

For a grand gifting gesture, Vinimark’s Haydi Schulz suggests looking out for a magnum of Groot Constantia Shiraz, while bubbly specialists Krone are offering glamorously-packaged editions of their Krone Borealis Cuvée Brut and Rosé Cuvée Brut.

Another bubbly gift option, says Cape Legends’ Vinash Indarjee, is Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut, an impressive, classic Methode Cap Classique (MCC), while attorney-winemaker Michael White stays loyal to his Highlands Road brand with a suggestion of the Slainte MCC for gifts or special celebrations. And it is special – uber-dry with lovely biscuit and lemon flavours.

Eugene Joubert of distributors WineZani reckons both wine collectors and lovers of Carrol Boyes’ functional art will be delighted with a gift from her limited edition wine collection, beautifully boxed with her signature artwork on the label and the option of including a Carrol Boyes wine stopper. These are available in the Eastern Cape exclusively from WineZani.

For corporate gifts, Vinash suggests a favourite like Allesverloren Shiraz or something new like Neethlingshof Six Flowers white blend.

Owner of Stanley Street wine bar For the Love of Wine, Robyn Martin recommends offerings from small estates that emphasise hand-picked and hand-made, such as Remhoogte Merlot or Vondeling Petit Rouge.

For something completely different and delicious, consider Pierre Jourdan Ratafia, a drink historically used to ratify treaties and marriages. It’s a wine fortified with brandy that, served lightly chilled, works equally well for pre-dinner sipping or decadent desserts.

Although many wines these days are made on organic or bio-dynamic principles, for those that specifically hang their hats here, look for Laibach Ladybird, Reyneke wines and, at the inexpensive end, the Earthbound range.

If you’re serving up an SA-style summer meal of cold meats, salads, bread and cheese, look to the Mediterranean Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese cultivars pioneered locally by Terra del Capo.

We also asked our experts about wines to stock up on for those hordes of visitors that tend to descend from up-north for a holiday by the sea:

Great value reds: La Motte Millennium, Raka Spliced, Allesverloren Danie’s Backyard Blend, Leopard’s Leap Merlot.

Special reds: Meinert Synchronicity, Raka Biography Shiraz, Simonsig Redhill Pinotage, Saronsberg Shiraz, Tokara Directors’ Red, Highlands Road Pinot Noir.

Great value whites: Leopard’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc, Louis Nel’s Buckleberry Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai Chenin/Sauvignon Blanc, Tokara Chardonnay.

Pretty in pink: Jordan Chameleon Rosé, Pierre Jourdan Tranquille, Cederberg Rosé, Bon Courage Blush sparkling wine.

Easy-drinking for summer days: Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc, Knorhoek Two Cubs Chenin Blanc, DeWetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay (unwooded), Ken Forrester Petit Cab/Merlot.

And as the year draws to a close, what to pop the cork on to see in 2014? For the crowds, look to the Robertson bubblies, reliable Pongracz, Pierre Jourdan Brut MCC, Miss Molly Brut Rosé or Polkadraai Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé.

For a special New Year’s treat, hunt down Saronsberg or L’Ormarins Brut, Pierre Jourdan Cuvee Belle Rose, Spier MCC, Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut, Bramon Sauvignon Blanc MCC or Highlands Road Slainte.

For delivery of a taste of home to friends and family abroad, try www.cybercellar.com, www.wine.co.za, www.wineweb.co.zaor the like.

They also deliver locally, as do Pick n Pay and Woolies.

New local site www.5ounces.co.za specialises in limited-time deals on wine and gourmet goodies, for delivery in SA only and, along with Cybercellar, currently offers a R50 discount voucher to new shoppers. For international deliveries, a more cost-effective option is often to register as an online shopper with a local supermarket in that country and place an order for delivery to your recipient.

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