Polished Portuguese – #saveSAwine

Lysa Verdelho 2019 continues my series on #saveSAwine. Prohibition in South Africa may have partially (and temporarily) been eased, but the 20 weeks of prohibition of direct sales from wineries have cost the industry over R6 billion (US$400 million) in the last 12 months and, with the 2021 harvest just about to hit wineries, there are already over 640 million litres of unsold wine in storage. We still need to #saveSAwine!

Having tried South African blended Verdelho in the coruscatingly fabulous Rall White Blend 2019, I asked on Facebook if anyone knew of a good single varietal Verdelho from South Africa. Simultaneously my chums Greg Sherwood MW (my South African pusherman from Handford Wines) and the extraordinarily talented winemaker Ian Naude, pointed me toward Lysa Verdelho. I purchased a bottle, and it was a glisk of respair from the depths of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Lysa Verdelho 2019Verdelho 2019, Lysa

A tiny bit fermentative when I popped the cork, but with a little air it venustated gloriously!

It was fruit-packed, with sharp green apple, zesty lime juice and something of the cucumber. If presented the Lysa Verdelho blind and were unaware of this Portuguese varietal when made in a clean and sophisticated style you could be forgiven for thinking this was an excellent young Riesling.

There is enormous minerality on this Lysa Verdelho, but it shows that (as we all know) the mineral aromas and flavours are not direct transmission of minerals from the vineyard soil into the grapes. Lysa Verdelho was grown on gravel covered clay soil, yet its mineral character seemed hard and crystalline; chipped quartz, I would venture to suggest.

The minerality was expressive on the nose and palate of the Lysa Verdelho; extremely involute and sophisticated, possibly beyond what the meganology of fruit might make one expect. This is a serious quality wine.

This seriousness was underscored by a wonderful savoury character on a palate that was a great foil for the fruit and added complexity to the energetic, vivacious palate. The Lysa Verdelho tasted like a living, vigorous entity that provided so much visceral fun, that you could happily get through a bottle with it barely touching the sides!

However, the arresting complexity, the crystalline minerality, the savoury character and powerful fruitiness show this to be a wine of intellectual thrills too; they amply demonstrate why this varietal added so much to the profoundly impressive Rall White Blend 2019 2019 I tasted a few days ago.

The finish is tremendous, with a melange of fruit and minerality persisting and a great thrill of acidity leaving pricks of scintillating excitement as you swallow. A real delight!

Great winemaking of clearly very high-quality fruit. In 2019, only 1568 bottles of Lysa Verdelho were made and as it has had a (deservedly) rapturous reception from the press and it is throbbingly good value at under twenty coins, fill your boots, girls and boys. You will not regret buying this effulgently enjoyable wine.

#saveSAwine with Lysa Verdelho 2019 at Handford Wines or The Wine Society.