Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 10)

Sommelier Luca Gagliardi - Dubai sommeliers - FooDiva - #FooDivaVino

Meet sommelier Luca Gagliardi

I am back from my wine trip in South Africa, and I therefore dedicate our tenth column to this beautiful country. I travelled around the wine regions of The Cape, starting from Constantia and driving over 1,200km through Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Swartland.

I discovered the reason why in less than two decades, South Africa has positioned itself among the best wine producing countries in the world. I asked so many winemakers that question, and unanimously, they all confirmed that it’s because of the terroir. Yes, terroir; sunny days and cold nights are why – however, I wouldn’t forget the people that make this amazing drink. Some of them work in extreme conditions, with wind that never stops, and a three-year consecutive drought that is leaving the country with water limitations and forests on fire, the smoke of which can be spotted every day from every corner. The diversity of this wine region is incredible, and that’s why there are so many grape varieties grown next to each other. From the Chenin Blanc to the Shiraz, from the Sauvignon Blanc to the Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Palomino to the Cinsault, the diversity of the soil and the climate change from one plot to the other allows for such unique growth of so many grapes. I highly recommend a trip to The Cape vineyards. I’m sure you will all fall in love with it the way I did.

We’re able to bring you this column regularly thanks to our key partner Monviso, the Italian natural mineral water brand with its low sodium content and total dissolved solids (TDS) – available across the UAE at leading supermarkets and restaurants. With all this wine drinking, you need to stay hydrated 🙂

Special thanks to both MMI and A&E where you can buy these wines, in addition to duty free of course. As usual, please note this column contains references to alcohol, and is therefore only for reading if you are of a legal drinking age in your country of residence (21 years in the UAE) and non-Muslim.

So here’s our tenth column, with top 4 wines under AED100 including tax. Let us know what you think in the comments or on social media using the hashtag #FooDivaVino. If you missed them, here are the previous columns. Cin cin 🙂

  • Buying wine in UAE - FooDiva - #FooDivaVinoChenin Blanc, “Old Vine Reserve”, Ken Forrester, Stellenbosch, 2015: when you ask about Chenin in The Cape, the answer is always Ken Forrester as he creates, arguably, the most charming wine. It’s probably the grape that I drank the most on my travels. I love its roundness, its elegance and its great structure due to the long lees contact, the spices of the oak, the peachy and citrusy notes, and the great freshness that you are left with at the end. This Chenin matches perfectly with Mediterranean-style prawns with olive oil, lemon juice, white wine and parsley, or with creamy Cajun crayfish, and even with spicy Asian seafood dishes with chilli, soy sauce, lime and coriander. AED70 + tax from MMI.
  • Chardonnay, Morgenhof, Simonsberg, 2015: as one of the most popular grapes on the planet, South Africa boasts some outstanding examples of great Chardonnay. I have to admit I didn’t try many on my trip, however those I did try were outstanding, never too overripe or with too much of an oaky influence. The proportion of the oak with this wine is very well balanced with beautiful tropical aromas on the nose, while on the palate it is still fresh with tangy stone fruit notes. Keep this Chardonnay for a delicious home-cooked dinner with friends and family, and pair it perfectly with oven-roasted seabass on a bed of fennel, olives, cherry tomatoes, sliced potato and a splash of olive oil and white wine. It’s also a great wine to match with a creamy mushroom and chicken pasta. AED71 + tax from A&E.
  • Pinotage, Stellenrust, Stellenbosch, 2015: for a long time Pinotage was the signature grape variety of South Africa, however as I explained before, it’s now not as much of a staple as it once was, as many other grapes are now prolific in this region. Pinotage is a cross between a Pinot Noir and a Cinsault and appears to still be looking for its natural trademark flavours. For many years I used to love Pinotage, but only recently did I start drinking it again. Stellenrust does a great job with its beautiful red and blackberry notes accompanied by white stone fruits. Round on the palate, it has a great lingering finish. This Pinotage best complements the spices of Cape Malay bobotie, essentially spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping, however it also pairs perfectly with beef curry dishes. AED57 + tax from MMI.
  • Kadette, Kanonkop, Stellenbosch, 2014: another thing I learned on my trip was the art of blending, something that winemakers in South Africa are experts at. Blends that may seem a bit odd for a European, were produced in South Africa with an end product that was always delicious, and this Kadette is no exception. Made from a blend of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this wine really surprises me every time I drink it. If you love your black fruit, mocha, chocolate and liquorice then this is the wine for you – very complex and delicious. It’s a wine I would suggest to pair with a cheese platter brimmimg with mature cheddar, Comté, Tomme de Savoie, aged Monterey Jack and a crostini with melted raclette on top. AED72 + tax from A&E.

Monviso-FooDivaWHO IS LUCA GAGLIARDI? Sommelier by birth, and Michelin-starred trained maître d’, Luca dedicated a decade to the service of world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay. His CV boasts restaurants and bars including Roberto’s, Iris, Solo and R Trader. In his spare time, Luca is in his state-of-the-art home kitchen cooking for friends and discovering new wines, typically anything but rosé! You can follow him on his wine blog Tasted and Rated, Twitter at @sommelierdubai and on Instagram at @tastedandrated – or for wine consultancy services via email at

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