With Spring in the air, we’re storing our comfort winter reds away, and are on the hunt for something crisper, lighter and fresher. Our fourth edition of Know Yo Grape! heralds in the lesser known French variety of Roussanne – an aromatic wine ideal for leisurely sipping.
This past weekend, we embraced the first signs of warm weather and celebrated Kristen’s birthday and housewarming in true South African style by having a braai on her rooftop terrace. Our wine in hand was the new limited release range from Swartland Winery, which consists of a Roussanne 2015 and the Winemaker’s Collection Syrah 2015. Both young, these grape varieties are basically siblings, hailing from the Rhône wine region of our beloved France.
Often used as a component of blends, this sassy varietal stands proudly on her own two feet. Strongly rooted in French culture, Roussanne takes its name from “roux”, the French word for “russet”—an apt description of the grapes’ reddish gold skins at harvest (well, that’s what they say).
As is the issue with many grape varieties (as in no one is precisely sure where they originated), it seems likely the variety is native to France, and in particular the Rhône Valley and the Isere Valley. Keeping close to her roots, this is where most of the world’s Roussanne is grown, however New World wine countries such as the USA and Australia are experimenting, and of course, so are we here in our home land of South Africa.
Thanks to the aromatic quality of this wine, it is super food friendly. Throw some West Coast crayfish and calamari her way, and Roussanne’s your girl. However, for the Swartland Limited Release Roussanne 2015, we’d suggest a spicy curry to help bring out the aromas of the wine and complement the honey-zesty palate. Yum!
While some party goers opted for the Syrah to warm the souls as the sun began to fade, the Swartland Limited Release Roussanne was an immediate hit, inciting smiles all around. Situated north of Cape Town, near Malmesbury, what makes Swartland Winery – and Swartland wine – special is that the grapes are grown on dry land as bush vines, meaning minimal human intervention and plenty of time for the grapes to grow up into strong, independent berries with their own character and flavour. And at R55 a bottle, we think it is a perfect gateway to encourage people to explore the new age of unusual varieties. We for sure aren’t stopping here – this is wine country.