The Graham Beck Winery consistently is one of South Africa's most interesting and reliable producers. In the charming 2010 Graham Beck Chenin Blanc-Sauvignon Blanc (about $11 at big-box stores and wine shops) the winery has another winner.
First, if you think of chenin blanc as a sweet wine, you've got to unload that notion. In this blend a light and lightly floral chenin blanc accounts for 51 percent of the mix and is agreeably on top, with sauv blanc providing the grace notes and a firm baseline.
The wine's light orange blossom nose is as ephemeral and welcome as a cool breeze in July, setting up our expectation of a soft, cooling wine with plenty of nuanced fruit. The first sip confirms it: The floral top note is right where we thought it would be and segues seamlessly into a midpalate bursting with clementine, lime, cantaloupe and honey plus swirling grace notes of new mown grass and meadow flowers. The finish is long and crisp, much like that of a good white Bordeaux.
As you will have guessed, this lovely blend has taken its place in our pantheon of perfectly refreshing summer whites, which means it makes a perfect aperitif or sundown sipper, as well as pairing nicely with summery fare like lean pork chops mantled in a zesty fresh mango and jalapeno salsa.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.