Floral notes – Discover wines inspired by the perfumes of Mother Nature
We often use the term “floral notes” in the description of a wine, or hear of “flower aromas” on the nose. What exactly does this refer to when it comes to wine? And where do these floral wine aromas come from? Not only do certain wines give off a particularly floral aromatic, but one can even go as far as to identify the specific type of “bouquet”.
Sound a bit flowery? We went to our winemakers to brush up on our knowledge, and we asked them and our Good Wine Shop curators to recommend their personal favourite wines that exhibit the aromatic perfumes of nature.
Floral notes, flavours or aromas
Floral flavours and aromas in a wine can be found both in its taste and on the nose. Factors that influence this are the type of grape used, the ageing process and other winemaking methods such as fermentation and barrelling. Common floral descriptions include apple and orange blossom, honeysuckle, hibiscus, lavender, jasmine, violet and rose petal.
When it comes to the nose of a wine, the bouquet is really the scent the wine gives off relative to its fermentation process. Similar to bouquet is the wine aroma, also found on the nose, which is mostly determined by the type of grape. Generally the nose can be broken into primary aromas, or grape-derivative; secondary, which come from winemaking techniques and most commonly yeast-derivative; and tertiary, which come from ageing, usually in the bottle, stainless steel tanks or in oak barrels.
One of the most difficult flavours to pair is spicy food. Any wine that’s acidic makes spicy food burn more. Generally a heavy red wine also butts heads with spicy dishes like curry and the two together are just overpowering. Enter floral wines. Some of our favourite wines to pair with spicy food – in particular Thai and Indian dishes – are lighter wines with a touch of sweetness or a flowery palate. Varietals like Viognier, Roussanne, Riesling and Grenache, along with white blends driven by any of these grapes, or a Rosé or Blanc de Noir are perfect here. They’re lower in acid, tannins and often alcohol, and they complement the food without trying to shout above the intensity of the spicy food flavours. (More on that here.)
Wine notes from the experts
That’s enough from us, let’s ask the winemakers…
Lukas van Loggerenberg – 2018 Young Winemaker of the Year (Tim Atkin)
“I would suggest our Geronimo 2018 Cinsault. It has a lot of dried rose petals on the nose, or our Kameraderie Chenin Blanc, which has white floral flavors as well as some magnolia.” (No surprise, after being named Young Winemaker of the Year 2018 by Tim Atkin, these two are both sold out.)
We also love his Côtes de Provence’ style rosé, or blanc de noir as he’s called it (until such time as it was rated the only 5-Star Rose in the Platter – then Lukas began to acquiesce!). The Break-a-Leg Blanc de Noir is light and fragrant with beautiful subtle citrus and floral notes and a touch of salinity that keeps it on the right side of dry. “The protea flower on the stamp emphasizes our South African heritage,” says Lukas.
Adam Mason – Raised by Wolves and Mulderbosch winemaker
“Of course! Muscat Blanc has to be one of the most arresting aromatic varieties known to humankind (and it has been known for aeons…) The variety screams GRAPE to anyone who has ever or never tasted a grape. I reckon it is hardwired into our collective ancient memory of the first time upright humans ever popped a grape in their mouths and burst through the skin…..The variety is characterised by the terpenoid aroma compounds – Linalool and Geraniol to name a few. Think litchis, naartjies, rose petals…”
Tyrrel Myburgh – organic winemaker for Joostenberg and half of Myburgh Bros.
“I would say our Roussanne, as it has flavours of quince and honeysuckle. I would also suggest our Fairhead white blend – it was inspired by my mother as it was her maiden name and she was also a gardener.”
We also love his Myburgh Bros. Viognier, which has peach blossom and apricot coming from its blend of 87% Viognier and 13% Roussanne, both grapes with beautiful perfume aromas.
Gavin Brand – Cape Rock winemaker
“Our White 2017 with Viognier in the blend has some faint floral notes and white fruit such as pears and white peaches on the nose. The Red 2015 is perhaps more surprising, with a slight note of violets like you find in some classic French Syrahs.”
Trizanne Barnard – TSW winemaker
Trizanne Barnard‘s wines, which focus on cool-climate whites and Swartland reds, are particularly elegant and aromatic. For our floral selection, we’ve chosen her Elim Semillon and two of her lifestyle wine brands, the Dawn Patrol Rose and The Search, a white blend.
The interesting story behind Trizanne’s Semillon is 2017 is the first vintage that she’s bottled a 100% Semillon – and that’s entirely due to the Western Cape drought. Notorious for developing rot, the 2017 vintage in Elim circumvented this weakness and the drier conditions, alongside the naturally cool sea breeze of Cape Agulhas, lent themselves to the creation of the best Semillon she’s ever grown.
With notes of wild strawberries, floral undertones and mouth-watering pomegranate flavours, Trizanne’s 100% Cinsault Dawn Patrol Rose has a beautiful rose gold hue and fantastic dry finish, making this Rose so delicious and incredibly easy drinking.
The Search is a wine layered with texture and aroma. The beautiful mineral notes from the Grenache Blanc complement the scents of fresh flowers, peaches and herbs of the Roussanne, whilst the Marsanne gives us the lovely texture, depth and palate weight of the wine that continues to linger in your glass.
Chris Williams – The Foundry winemaker
“Although not considered part of the ‘aromatic’ group of grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat, I think that Rhone grapes grown on well-drained, granite soil lend themselves to developing a real flora perfume which adds a great dimension to the bouquet of the wine. This is enhanced by some whole berry or whole bunch fermentation. These aromas can be quite delicate and need to be preserved through careful ageing and a very judicious use of oak, particularly new oak.
Varieties such as Viognier are naturally heavily perfumed, but Roussanne and Grenache tend to be much more elusive, almost ethereal and therefore tend to add to the complexity of the wine instead of determining the character itself.”