3 South African wines to get your summer buzzing

Apart from the obvious health effects, the world-wide pandemic has caused no end of trouble for businesses of all types, not least for those in, or connected to, the wine industry.

Three top South African wines
Three top South African wines

Wine producers have gone bust, long-established wholesalers have gone out of business, not to mention the hundreds of restaurants and other hospitality venues who will never open their doors again. Although there are now substantial signs of recovery in both the global spirits trade and wine trade, whole country’s wine industries have been severely impacted, one notable example being that of South Africa.

The country has been having a rough time with infections throughout the pandemic and has introduced no less than four total bans on the sale of alcohol, some of which also affected exports. The most recent of these bans brought in by president Ramaphosa, was in June this year, the idea being to relieve pressure on hospitals from emergency incidents due to alcohol consumption. The trials and tribulations of South Africa’s wine industry have been well documented, with a ban on moving wines early in the pandemic preventing exports, compounded by a two-month ban on domestic alcohol consumption.

Over the past 15 months, the South African wine industry has been through a very challenging time and several companies and organisations in the UK have been involved in initiatives to support the people and families, whose livelihoods depend on the wine industry, by promoting South African wines.

The poetically named Journeys End winery run by the Gabb family is located in the heart of Stellenbosch, one of South Africa’s Western Cape premium regions. The winery produces a first-class range of wines, three of which have a distinct relationship to the honeybee. The Cape Honeybee is only found in the Western and Southern Capes of South Africa and naturally help with pollination of the flowers in the vineyards.

From this year’s vintage, Bees Knees 2021 is made from a blend of chenin blanc and viognier. A refreshing and fruit-forward wine, it has red apple and tropical fruit notes, with delicate aromas of honeysuckle and acacia flowers. A delicious, straw-coloured dry white, perfect for Thai cuisine or lightly spiced Indian dishes. £10.99 from online retailer Laithwaites.

Queen Bee 2021 is a pure viognier, which is vibrant and aromatic, with a mouth-watering peach and tropical fruit character. Fresh, elegant and seductive, this white wine is dry and full-flavoured, with a crisp finish. £12.99 also from Laithwaites.

Completing the trio, is a chardonnay called The Honey Drop. From the 2020 vintage, this is a fresh and juicy chardonnay, with body, depth and character. Definite kick of vanilla oak, but well integrated with peachy, creamy fruit and a hint of honey. Perfect with barbecued sardines with tomato salad, or a top-notch Caesar salad with char-grilled chicken. Majestic £11.99 mix six price. Three wines to get your summer buzzing!

Richard Esling is a wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. He runs agency and consultancy WineWyse, is founder and principal of Sussex Wine Academy and is chairman of Arundel Wine Society