Hello Eve, An increasing number of wineries in South Africa are engaging in transformation through the production of socially sustainable wines made by a new generation of Black winemakers…and with that I was invited to attend a “Black Vintners Wine Experience” hosted by the South African Consulate-General and the Wines of South Africa USA.
What I already knew about South African wines I learned long ago from my WSET and COC Wine Studies instructor DiMaggio Washington. They were known for their Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, the latter being a grape variety that is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes. Both became my favorites as their expressions were unique in my opinion.
Fast forward nearly a decade and both the Wine Spectator, and the Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa USA, Jim Clarke, report that those wine varieties – specifically Pinotage – are no longer in fashion.
I had no doubt the fashion calls for Bordeaux blends and Sauvignon Blanc, the big sellers in new world wines (new world areas include the U.S., Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa) and the wines we were to taste incorporated those varieties and others as well.
Tasting – aromas and flavors separated by ;
Seven Sisters “Twena” Pinotage Rose 2015
Strawberry, yellow peach and wet stones on the nose; then flavors of strawberries dipped in sugar, fruit cocktail with a low acid. 88 Eve pts.
Fairvalley Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Green grass, cheddar cheese and limeade; lime, lemon with a medium acidity. 88 Eve pts.
Solms-Delta Chenin Blanc 2015
Pear, lemon, white pepper, grapefruit; bright, tingly, refreshing, peach and pear. 88 Eve pts.
De Bos “Sure Lie” Chenin Blanc 2014
Powdery, slight earthy notes, crisp apples; nice balance of fruit and acid, easy to drink, subtle fruit. 89 Eve pts.
Fairvalley Pinotage 2014
Plums, black licorice, grilled meat, mushroom, eucalyptus; dry, tobacco, dried plum, black pepper. 89 Eve pts.
Solms-Delta Syrah 2014
Black cherry, milk chocolate and green peppercorn; young, black cherry, dry with firm tannins. 90 Eve pts.
Suo Red collection #2 2014 (Bordeaux Blend)
Black fruit, mint, black pepper; big, dark fruit, blueberry, blackberry. 91 Eve pts.
Mvemve Raats MR de Compostela 2014 (Bordeaux Blend)
Barnyard, earthy, dark chocolate, plum and smoke; brighter fruit in the mouth than the nose indicated, yet still tannic, dark and dusty. 90 Eve pts.
Average retail prices: The whites were all less than $20, the reds ranged from under $20 to $35 on the Suo Red to $65 on the Mvemve Raats. These wines may or may not be available all over the U.S. so please check you local retail outlets. If you don’t see South African wines represented – please ask for them!
From Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa USA, Jim Clarke:
- The winemaking area of South Africa is a small region, about 245,000 acres, located in the Western Cape near Cape town.
- South Africa is the seventh or eighth largest wine producer in the world.
- Ninety-five percent of the wineries are certified sustainable.
- South Africa is the largest producer of Chenin Blanc.
- The World Cup put attention on the region.
- South Africa has always been a “beer and brandy” drinking area, now there is a new culture that enjoys wine tasting.
- Pinotage wine production have gone down from 12 percent to seven percent, however, those making it are serious about doing it well.
- The wines of South Africa are more diverse than before.
From more than one member of the consulate:
I asked about the promotion of Black South Africans, specifically vintner scholarships and assistance in winery start-ups.
(The programs) are a good motive for the government to assist Black winemakers…and to get all involved in the country.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.