News

De Grendel Shiraz 2017, so good with Alida Ryder’s Ostrich Kebabs with Feta & Herb Sauce…

The worst drought in the Western Cape in living memory was in full swing in 2017. While there were no significant heat waves during the summer, the nights were cool, and the vineyards were blessed with light rain in December 2016. The grapes harvested for the De Grendel Shiraz 2017 were of excellent quality with concentrated flavours and a bright acidity.

The grapes for the De Grendel Shiraz 2017 came from supplier vineyards, in the Paarl and Firgrove areas. Each making its own contribution to this sublime wine made by founding Cellarmaster Charles Hopkins and his cellar team. One picking took place in Paarl and a further two Firgrove pickings took place at different stages of the ideal ripeness window to spread the flavours. The three pickings were separately vinified up to just before malolactic fermentation, when they were blended, and the fermentation allowed to take place in stainless steel tanks. 

Ken Forrester, Maestro of Chenin

Some will raise an eyebrow at the title of this article, for surely the Loire Valley and appellations like Vouvray and Savennières are the spiritual home of wines made from Chenin Blanc?  That of course is true, but South Africa’s history and expertise with Chenin undoubtedly places it alongside. Around one fifth of all vineyards are given over to the variety – that’s more than double the Cape’s plantings of Chardonnay.

Believed to be among the first vine cuttings that arrived in South Africa in 1655 (when it was known as ‘Steen’), quantity alone would not be enough to put Cape Chenin on the map. Indeed, a few decades ago it had a fairly ignoble existence, being distilled for brandy production or blended into cheap jug wines. But along with so much in the Cape’s wine industry, all that changed with the post-apartheid opening-up of South Africa. 

Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé 2019, perfect with Jane-Anne Hobbs’s Chicken Liver Paté with a Jellied Verjuice Topping…

The Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose, the Estate’s Rosé Cap Classique, has a sister in the Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé 2019. Eagerly awaited and just such a lovely year-round wine. The Estate known as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cap Classique specialists only recently added this wine to its range.

The best grapes from the Estate are selected for this maiden vintage of Rosé.

Made in the traditional white wine way, it is a wine for all foods.

From a Burgundy shaped bottle, closed with a screw cap. The Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 label is in the typical elegant Haute Cabrière style. In the glass, a cherry blossom pink tinged with orange. The aromas are of ripe red berry fruits, fraises des bois, cranberry with an undertow of aromatic tea roses. 

De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2019, launched at Saint in Sandown….

Earlier this week I attended a luncheon at Saint in Sandown during which the latest release from the De Wetshof Wine Estate of their De Wethof Limestone Hill 2019. The wine is one of South Africa’s most popular unwooded Chardonnays, and it emphasises the reputation 2019 is getting for being one of the best vintages for white wine in the Cape’s recent history. Johann de Wet, CEO of De Wetshof Estate in Robertson, and our host told us that the relatively wet 2018 winter put some much-needed moisture back into the soils. But it was the temperate weather conditions before and leading up to the 2019 harvest that resulted in optimum ripening of fruit in the vineyards. Despite the relatively cold and wet Cape winter of 2018, the Cape is still experiencing a drought due to the previous five years’ low rainfall.

Adding quality to life with Natura de-alcoholised

In line with the latest lifestyle trends, Leopard’s Leap Wines is excited to introduce a charming new addition to the Leopard’s Leap portfolio: Leopard’s Leap Natura De-alcoholised Classic White and Classic Red

This exciting couple gives wine lovers a delightful alternative for adding quality to life during those occasions or in those moments where alcohol can or should not be consumed. Versatile, health-conscious and delicious, Natura is ideal for a responsible, everyday quality lifestyle. Being de-alcoholised, the Natura is made from a traditional alcoholic wine from which the alcohol has been extracted to leave no more than 0.5% abv.

Debbie Thompson Takes Over Role of Cellar Master at Simonsig Estate

In her 20th year at Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, Debbie Thompson has been promoted to cellar master at this revered and pioneering third-generation winery. Thompson takes over the role of cellar master from Johan Malan under whom she has worked since joining Simonsig in 1999.

Malan will in future be Simonsig’s Director of Winemaking, leaving Thompson to lead the winemaking team of Charl Schoeman (Cap Classique and white wine) and Michael Malan, the third generation Malan in the Simonsig cellar, who takes over from Thompson as red winemaker. Thompson graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree in oenology and worked for a brief stint at Hazendal before joining Simonsig where she has spent most of her career. 

SOUTH AFRICAN WINE HARVEST REPORT 2019

The South African wine grape harvest 2019 has hit a record low, largely due to the preceding drought and fluctuating weather conditions during the season. Winemakers are, however, positive about the quality of this year’s vintage.

The 2019 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 225 620 tonnes, according to the latest estimate of industry body Sawis (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems) on 26 April 2019. Although only 1.4% smaller than last year, the crop has shrunk for the second consecutive year and 2019 represents a record low since 2005 when 1 171 632 tonnes were harvested. “It has been a trying year for our wine grape producers and wineries. 

STATE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN WINE INDUSTRY 2018/19

The South African wine industry has entered a new phase of repositioning, consolidation and reinvestment. Climate change, shifts in production and demand and financial pressures have led to the industry becoming smaller and required producers and wineries to rethink the way they do business.

Our wine industry has gone through a tough time in the past decade. Although many of our producers and wineries are still under tremendous financial pressure, I believe as a collective, the industry is turning a new corner with renewed energy and focus,” says Rico Basson, MD of the wine industry organisation Vinpro, which represents 2 500 South African wine grape producers, wineries and wine-related businesses. 

Just a friend you do not know

Except for those who are really adventurous, many of us have some kind of fear for the unknown. And when the unknown comes across as exclusive rather than endearing, it can intimidate us even more. Wine can be like this.

For us who know wine dearly, fearing wine can be hard to fathom, so let’s turn the tables. Take the average winemaker, someone who is comfortable around wine and not in the slightest intimidated by a tasting room. Take him or her to Wall Street and enter the New York Stock Exchange. I bet most winemakers will feel slightly out of their depth. Observing is one thing, but now you want the winemaker to react, to interpret what is happening, have an opinion… I guess most of us would like to run for the hills.