Monday, 1 December 2014

My Best Wine of 2014? The Women in Wine Range

A few weeks ago, a friend got in touch to tell me about Cape London, a new wine shop which is currently selling lots of wines from South Africa and other New World countries, with a view to stocking more European labels soon.

I thought it sounded interesting, but it didn't exactly blow my mind, and you're probably feeling the same.

But then I had a look at the website and discovered it's much more than I expected.

Every wine they sell has a story, and they've spent real time selecting brands and producers that make wines with passion and skill, and make wines that are worthy of savouring every mouthful.

The brand that stood out most to me was Women in Wine, (exclusive to Cape London) a project that came out of the aftermath of Apartheid and South Africa's tough environment for people of colour, and black women in particular.

Wine is still a male-dominated industry, but in 2006 a group of 20 professional black women from Stellenbosch decided to put an almighty dent in that fact, and start a women-led wine project that would empower not only them but also farm workers and their families.

They launched Women in Wine and became the first female-owned and managed wine company in the country. Now, they encourage women to be shareholders in the business, giving their future security and independence, and they also help to educate and train their farm workers so they can make money outside of the grape-picking season.

How bloody brilliant is that?

The story touched my heart and inspired me, and when Cape London offered to send me a couple of bottles, I was eager to try the wines themselves, but worried in case they didn't live up to their incredible provenance.

I very quickly realised I had nothing whatsoever to worry about...

Women in Wine Sauvignon Blanc, £8.99

Finally, a sauvignon blanc I can get really excited about!

I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of this grape. All too often I find entry-level sauvignon too crisp, too grassy and... well, too samey, if I'm honest. I've drunk so many, and they're all so in your face, with an unsubtle and uninspiring uniform of expected flavours and aromas.

Not this wine. The Women in Wine Sauvignon Blanc has cherry-picked all the best bits of sauvignon (in my opinion) and skilfully stirred them together with completely unexpected but totally complimentary flavours and character.

Gone are the green fruits, citrus and herbaceous character of most of the new world sauvignon you get in this price bracket. In its place are ripe, tropical fruits and peach, with a subtle hint of the asparagus-esque flavour you might expect from the grape. It's still crisp, but this acidity is made more elegant with a slight minerality, and made more palatable by a fullness in body and a smooth, silky texture.

It's a delight to drink, with an impressive finish for a wine of this price, and is the sort of thing I could linger over for a whole evening. It would probably match a multitude of dishes - salmon, scallops, gazpacho, mediterranean chicken salad - but we just sat and sipped it and enjoyed every mouthful.

Women in Wine Euphrosyne Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, £13.99

Unlike the sauvignon, this was more along the lines of what I was expecting flavour-wise, although it still had a few surprises up its sleeve.

It had less of that typical cabernet cassis flavour, for a start, and was deliciously mouth-filling and smooth. There were those typical black fruit flavours, and they were joined by a smokey, cigar character and slight whiff of woodiness.

What surprised me the most was its balance - everything just worked so well that I could quite easily sip this on its own just like the sauvignon, and I'm not normally a fan of doing that with this grape variety.

That said, it would be a delicious match for lamb, or maybe a chilli con carne with a hint of dark chocolate.

All in all these wines were an utter joy, and I'm so, so excited to have found them. My family and I sat drinking them over two evenings, and the first thing my boyfriend's Ma said was 'Let's get some for Christmas'. I have a feeling we'll be enjoying these far beyond the festive season...

Head over the Cape London to buy these beauties (links are above) and definitely check out the rest of their ranges.

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