Moscato Madness and the Orange River

 We wine-folk do a lot of sipping and swirling and tasting, and then we also do a lot of glugging. You know, uninhibited down the hatch thirst-quenching stuff taken in big refreshing slurps with your Adam’s apple dancing a Mardi Gras.

A lot of this kind of drinking is performed by wine-lovers on beer, exotic ciders and gin and tonics, but there are quite a number of wines out there made for getting stuck into.

One such style that has been surprisingly slow to take off in South Africa is the wine known as Moscato. Made from Muscat-style grapes with an appealing floral and fruity flavour, these lightly spritzed wines have taken America and Britain by storm over the past few years. Rapping home-boys have been singing their praises, while Kate Moss and buddies bathe in the stuff. Sales have skyrocketed, too, with Moscato turnover in the US having rocketed past $300m us per annum.

As a sexy, stylish wine it is no surprise that the Italians put Moscato on the map, making the wine primarily from the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains grape in the Piedmont region. In South Africa the few wineries doing the Moscato Mambo use the fabulously aromatic Hanepoot – Muscat d’Alexandrie – with results far surpassing those of the Italian job.

The wines are light, coming in at just over 7% alcohol, and well-chilled they go down like the proverbial homesick-mole. Fresh. Zippy. Clean. Loads of flavour. Yet for the life of me I can’t understand why they do not have more of a following in South Africa, probably still a result of sweetish wines suffering from a plebian image.

Orange River wine country.
Orange River wine country.

My favourite Moscato is the Meander made by uniWines Vineyards in Rawsonville which is not easy to miss due to the eye-catching packaging. See-through flint sparkling wine bottle. Real cork, no foil. And a label screaming one-part retro and one-part sunshine.

The wine itself has a touch of fizz, wonderful for bringing notes of pear, nectarine and figs to the fore, while the finish is clean and life-affirming. Real refreshment on its own or with some exotic Asian or Mexican chow. And at R35 a bottle…..what’s there not to like?

Another wine made not made for enjoying by the thimble-full is the Colombard from Orange River Wine Cellars. This is the signature grape from the spectacular wine region on the banks of the Orange River in the area of Kakamas, Keimoes, Upington and Groblershoop where you can actually hear the grapes growing in the fertile soils and under the warm sun. Yields of 60 tons a hectare are not uncommon, which means Colombard is – like all Orange River wines – as easy on the pocket as they are on the palate.

Colombard is meant to be consumed young and fresh. Extended lees contact gives it a creamy, delicate edge while the wine is packed with flavours of litchi, kiwi fruit and green apple. It really is easy-drinking stuff, marvellous chilled or with a few ice-cubes on a hot day or with fish, poultry or salad.

Price: Under R30.

Please Sir, may I have some more?

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