Earlier this year I had a short break in South Africa and decided to indulge my love and interest in wine to investigate and select an outstanding South African chardonnay which those of my constituents who take an interest in these things might enjoy.
French white burgundy has become extremely expensive, although admittedly a delicious drink. I wanted to try and find a New World chardonnay at a much cheaper price that can compete.
Representing the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield as your MP I know that there are many locally who have a great interest in wine, with Sainsbury’s in Mere Green boasting their most extensive and varied wine collection in the UK.
So it is my duty to track down a suitable South African chardonnay and a distinguished red. We start early in Stellenbosch.
Meerlust vineyard, one of the oldest, is our first call. Then it’s on to Groot Constantia (the first cape governor founded it) and Glenelly, founded by the owner of France’s Pichon Lalande in Bordeaux at the age of 78. She and her South African vineyard are going strong 15 years later. She is now 93 years old.
We press on to the beautiful de Trafford Estate and to Rustenberg where the Peter Barlow cabernet sauvignon 2015 is superb. At the end of a long and arduous day – with only a short break of 2 hours for lunch amidst the vines – I decide to recommend to my constituents the 5 soldiers Rustenburg 2015 as the chardonnay (which I am pleased to say can be found in the Four Oaks Waitrose), along with the de Trafford Chenin blanc 2016. For the red I choose the de Trafford Syrah 393.
As a bonus the straw wine (think Sauternes but made with Chenin Blanc not Noble Rot) made by de Trafford from three vintages with a delicious honey taste.
Of course all drinking should be conducted in moderation and there will be those of my constituents who have no interest at all in this my August column. But I know that there will be others who may be interested and who I dare say will make their way to Waitrose in Mere Green!