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Wines of the Week

Top wines for each day of the next seven from New Zealand, South Africa and Italy.

2007 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Viognier $39

I feel as though my heart skips a you know what when I taste wines as good as this viognier. If you’ve ever tried a halfway decent bone dry white that is not chardonnay, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Peachy but not sweet; full-bodied but not over the top; a great alternative dry white with flavour rather than the all-too-common insipid taste of many so-called alternate wines. This is the exception rather than the rule for Kiwi viogniers. I hope to see a lot more like it. www.villamaria.co.nz

2008 Anselmi San Vincenzo Soave $25

Martin Cahnbley has never been one to shy away from experimental wines, as his new range (available via mail order: [email protected]) shows. Soave (‘swavay’) is from northern Italy, usually bone dry and often simple and straightforward. Not so this wine. Succulent, citrus zest-like in flavour and beautifully bone dry, it’s fresh off the bottling line and is one of the best whites I’ve tasted yet this year.

2007 Raats Chenin Blanc $27

There’s more to chenin blanc than meets the old fashioned cardboard box style of old. Unfortunately, chenin blanc – though much admired in some circles – has been pressed into mediocre wine-in-a-box more times than is fair to its nobility. Here’s a wine that’s a reminder of what good chenin blanc is really all about. Full bodied, savoury in aroma and fresh in taste, it comes from Stellenbosch; the oldest European settlement in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Chenin blanc’s greatness is built around its ability to evolve deliciously for decades in the bottle. www.raats.co.za or buy from [email protected]

2008 Pax Verbatim Vineyards Rockwater Fountain Viognier $30

Wines are changing at least as rapidly as politics in South Africa, and with positive fall-out. This whopping 14.5 per cent alcohol viognier is a good case in point with its lovely full body, apricot flavours and spicy oak aromas that sit with the wine rather than interrupting its seamless taste profile. Buy from [email protected]

2005 Iona The Gunnar $30

Winery owner Andrew Gun has traced his heritage back to the Viking (hence Gunnar, which is a good Viking name). This is also an extremely good wine. Made from grapes planted at high altitude in South Africa, it is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot – the intense fruity perfume of the petit verdot lifts the wine into delicious new aromatic territory. [email protected]

2005 Kaapzicht Stellenbosch Pinotage $27

Wine lovers often describe expressive white wines as being like tropical fruit salad in a glass, and here’s a red wine that tastes just like a blackberry, raspberry and loganberry fruit salad that has been warmed by the sunshine and doused in red wine for good measure. A sip of this will have you wondering why pinotage is usually off the radar of most wine drinkers. [email protected]

2005 Steytler by Kaapzicht Estate Pinotage $53

Steytler is the name of the family who own this winery in the Stellenbosch region, South Africa. Big, robust and again – like its little sibling, featured above – this is a gorgeous tropical red fruit salad of a wine. While many of us may not usually think of pinotage as “great” – due to the hybrid nature of the grape – this is one outstanding wine. [email protected]

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