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August 14, 2019

Making Wine: The New South Africa

Post by South Lyndale Liqours

The New South Africa

By Daniel (Wine Specialist)

South African wine has had its share of difficulties. We can go into those another time. This is about celebrating the New South Africa!

With the new guard of winemakers asserting themselves into the wine world they bring with them a fresh take on what should be planted where and how they should treat their wineries.

The new guard is approaching the grape like either Pinot Noir or Cinsault. What that means is they are looking at the terroir and making decisions based on that, not necessarily how Pinotage should taste but how it will taste based on its site. And I must say they are succeeding in making some really tasty wine.

Making Wine: The new South Africa

Barrel priority

Sadly, South Africa can end up on the bottom of the priority list when it comes to barrels. Often, even if they are purchasing from a renown cooper, the cooper may send the least well-made barrels. These barrels are often dirty and dirty barrels make dirty wine. That distinct iodine or campfire note can often be traced to this. The new guard understands how important it is to keep a winery clean and it shows in the wine.

Making Wine: The new South Africa

South African Pinotage

A misunderstanding of how to nurture certain varietals has also plagued the country. This is not unique to South Africa but important when looking at Pinotage. Pinotage is a varietal that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold. He was a Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. The goal was to create a grape that expressed the best qualities of ‘Hermitage’ (Cinsault) and Pinot Noir.

South Africa succeeding in taste

It has a tendency to develop isoamyl acetate which can give off a Banana oil or wet paint smell. The grape drew a lot of criticism though became wildly popular in the US for a time. And there were good examples out there, specifically Kanonkop.

But these were few and far between and were often expensive. Fast forward to today. A common thing one might hear is “Pinotage comes from Cinsault and Pinot Noir but doesn’t taste like either.” Just because a grape might like the sun or may like to hang late or may like lots of wood doesn’t mean we should treat it that way (I’m looking at you Zinfandel).

The new guard is approaching the grape like either Pinot Noir or Cinsault. What that means is they are looking at the terroir and making decisions based on that, not necessarily how Pinotage should taste but how it will taste based on its site. And I must say they are succeeding in making some really tasty wine.

Making Wine: The new South Africa

South African wines to look for

The focus is not only on retelling the Pinotage story but showing that varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir can be both delicious and uniquely South African.

On a recent trip to South Africa, we tasted nothing but fresh, clean and balanced wines. The future is bright and as the weeks go by, wines from that trip will be hitting our shelves.

Some wines to look for are ones from Benguela Cove, Waterkloof, Spoenkop and Mont Blois.

Making Wine: The new South Africa
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