This week I’m drinking. . . . a very nice South African Chenin

In Blackheath there are two clothes shops: one caters for Richard Hammond, all expensive jeans and mid life crisis leather jackets, and the other for James May. I often wondered who is buying all the paisley, surely even millionaire former Top Gear presenters can’t buy that many shirts. . . . . and then I went to the New Wave South Africa tasting earlier this month.

Image result for james may

It took place in a warehouse/ nightclub type venue in Shoreditch, the PA was playing Led Zeppelin at deafening volume and everywhere you looked there were middle-aged men in floral shirts like the one above.

Never mind the wines where good. South Africa has long been my least favourite large wine-producing country but the new wave Rhoney blends from Swartland have a verve to them (and not a single stinky red at the whole tasting, hurrah!) that makes me want another sip and then another. They’re real drinkers wines. One producer described his Cinsault as “smashable” which seems about right to me though whether the general public is happy to spend £17 on a wine for knocking back is another matter.

As good as the reds were, and some were very good indeed, it was the whites however that stole the show: vivid appley Chenins with magical acidity and textured Cape blends of Chenin, Viognier, Grenache Blanc etc and a couple of Palominos that were like flor-free Manzanillas if you can imagine such a thing.

I noticed that The Wine Society is doing one of my favourites for only £11.95:

Tania & Vincent Careme Chenin Blanc Terre Brûlée 2015

This is made by a Loire producer so you’d expect they know their way around Chenin. It smells sweet, like cooked apples and cake, it’s very ripe but balanced by a bracing acidity – it’s a made to make your mouth water.

I left the tasting with my ears ringing and my eyes assaulted by paisley but my palate thoroughly refreshed.

Book Review: How to Love Wine by Eric Asimov

People who aren’t interested in cooking read Nigel Slater, just as people who can’t even drive watch Top Gear, but so far no one has managed to score an equivalent success with wine. Most wine books are bought by those we can politely describe as wine bores. As a self-confessed wine bore, I find this baffling. Wine is a subject, like food, that can encompass all human experience: war, history, poetry, economics, sensual pleasure – and yet it struggles to break out of its ghetto. Enter Eric Asimov

This is a book review that appeared in the Guardian a few weeks ago. Click above to read on. There were a few comments and even a letter from readers saying that they read Nigel Slater and they cook. I should clarify that I wasn’t saying that all Nigel Slater readers don’t cook, just that some of his readers don’t. I’m referring to his memoir, Toast, rather than the cookbooks. There wasn’t space to put all this in my review.