2018 Jessica Saurwein, Chi Riesling, Elgin, South Africa
The South African wine tasting was nothing short of eye-opening this year. All too often the annual show is a predictable mish-mash of heroes and villains, but the title of this year’s event, “New Wave”, was accurate – wineries showed their best wares and nobody dropped the ball. The wine-makers knew it, too. Their time had come and the air crackled with as much energy as the vitality displayed in their wines.
I have a battery of recommendations for you, but rather than trotting out a shopping list I have narrowed down my selection to just two wines from one winemaker. Jessica Saurwein’s creations summed up the mood at this ground-breaking event and my featured ’18 Chi Riesling (and the ’19 sample which I also tasted and which will follow on soon) is a veritable citrus lightning strike on your senses. With as much freshness as elite Aussie Eden Valley wine and with an even more slender chassis, this is the most invigorating dry riesling I have tasted from the Cape.
Balancing this balletic wine is 2018 Nom Pinot Noir (£45, Swig), one of the most refined and floral pinots I have tasted from South Africa. Nom stands for nombulelo, an expression of gratitude in Xhosa, and also Nomkhubulwane, a forgotten African goddess of agriculture. This wine comes from the Kaaimansgat Vineyard in Elandskloof and Jessica captures the drama and poise of this celestial red grape.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)