You’ll Want To Try This Light South African Riesling This Weekend

Wine editor MARY DOWEY selects a South African wine with real VERVE as her bottle of the week …

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Paul Cluver Close Encounter Riesling, Elgin 2012

I’m not sure where we’ve got to with the so-called Riesling Renaissance that wine writers and sommeliers have been banging on about for decades. The Riesling grape can be confusing – sometimes dry, sometimes off-dry, sometimes sweet. It can also be deliciously refreshing. My advice is to knock any negative preconceptions right out of your head. Try a really good example (like this) with the food that suits it best and you may become a convert for life.

With notes of lemongrass, orange, lime and a hint of mango, this delicate, racy wine goes beautifully with light, citrussy summer first courses – a salad of prawns and avocado with an orange dressing, for instance, or grilled halloumi on rocket with a lime and chilli dressing. Don’t take fright when I tell you that it is off-dry, following the style of classic Riesling from Germany’s famous Mosel region. Those fruity flavours are offset by rapier-sharp acidity making for perfect balance. And the touch of sweetness makes it a winner with light but assertively spicy food – Thai or Chinese fish dishes especially.

The fruit-growing Cluver family were among the first to plant vines in Elgin south-east of Cape Town, an area previously famous for apple farming. I’ve admired their wines for years. The whites in particular exude the freshness associated with this up-and-coming region of hills cooled by south Atlantic breezes.

If you’re still vacillating over Close Encounter Riesling, then try Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc – a wine with a creamier texture and infinitely more depth than most Sauvignons. Or splash out on Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling, an exquisite dessert wine. South African specialist Dr Eilis Cryan of Kinnegar Wines imports them all.

Alcohol: 8.5%

From kinnegar.com; Mitchell & Son, IFSC, Dublin 1; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Whelehans, Loughlinstown, about €22.

@MaryDowey

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