Samantha Venter sniffs, sips and swirls in a Vine Time to give our readers the inside track on wines – and this week it is Altydgedacht in Durbanville
“If you can’t make Sauvignon Blanc in Durbanville, you should look for another career.”
A bold statement from PEborn Etienne Louw, given that he’s made his career as a winemaker in Sauvignon Blanc country at Altydgedacht in Durbanville.
But then, this Pearson old boy does make a pretty decent Sauvignon Blanc in what he says is ideal territory for it – where the cool climate delivers fresh fruitiness and gentle acidity. What he calls a “fruit salad effect” has some tropical notes without the heaviness of those flavours in Sauvignon Blanc from warmer areas.
In the R70 department, it’s great value and one for the list of summer “go-to” whites.
The Tygerberg Cabernet Franc Blanc de Noir (about round R60) is another one for that list.
There’s loads of fresh, red fruit, with some spice and savouriness from the Cabernet Franc – definitely not an insipid pink wine but light and fresh enough to enjoy as a sundowner or with seafood and salads.
Louw says Altydgedacht grows one of the widest range of grape varietals in the country, giving him lots of room to play, especially with his favourite aromatic wines – Weisser Riesling, Gewurztraminer and the new Chatelaine. Named for owners John and Oliver Parker’s 91-year-old mom Jean, who farmed Altydgedacht on her own after being widowed at the age of 29, Chatelaine is a delicious, gentle and fragrant semi-sweet blend of Hanepoot, Gewurztraminer and Riesling.
Sweeter wines tend to be seen as something cheap you keep at the back of the fridge for that one friend or elderly relative who was scared off by the acidity of dry whites years ago and refuses to try them again (get them to try Chenin!).
But wines like Riesling and Gewurztraminer are nothing like the headache-inducing semi-sweets that many remember from their first forays into wine.
The wines now being made from sweeter, aromatic grapes aren’t sugary and sticky, and they aren’t converting the sugar to heavy alcohol. Like Altydgedacht’s Gewurztraminer (±R90) – fresh, crisp, very fragrant and aromatic, the tastes all honey, melon-litchi fruitiness, ginger and warm spice, tempered with a streak of acidity that holds it all together.
Gewurztraminer’s fragrance, spice and honeyed tones makes it a great partner to spicy foods – Asian, Middle- Eastern or Moroccan warm aromatic spices that would stop a Sauvignon Blanc dead in its tracks.
Altydgedacht’s Weisser Riesling is also a great one for trying something different – typical Riesling lanolin on the nose, it has subtle spices on the palate, flavours of honey and dried apricots, and it’s actually not sweet at all.
“There’s no sugar here to hide behind,” Louw says, adding that its balanced acidity means it’s a wine that can stand up to strong flavours.
Pairing it with a chevin cheese, for example, softened the pungency of the cheese and created an explosion of flavour with the wine.
On the red wine side, the Altydgedacht range is wide too.
The dry, full-bodied Italian cultivar Barbera is a must-try, especially with hearty Italian food rich in tomatoes and strong-flavoured herbs like rosemary.
It’s all about spice and toastiness from 12 months barrel maturation, a beautiful dark, intense, velvety red.
There’s a super bubbly too – more about that next weekend when I review some festive season options.