Satisfaction from the south
With party season approaching, consumers will be after the best value for money in wine, and South Africa is a region where quality and value sit side by side
14 October 2015 | 0
South African wines are undoubtedly among the most popular in the Irish market. The industry has gone from strength to strength over the past two decades, with its accessible varieties and refreshing tastes that make it an enticing area to explore, for curious consumers and seasoned experts alike. According to Wines of South Africa, the non-profit body which promotes SA wine around the world, exports more than doubled between 2003 and 2013. More than 3,300 farmers cultivate almost 100,000 hectares of land under vines, while the 2013 harvest amounted to almost 1.5 million tons of grapes, 79% of which went toward the production of wines. Meanwhile, South African wine accounts for 4.5% of the market in Ireland, with significant opportunity for expansion.
With all this in mind, there’s no doubt that Ireland’s love affair with South African wine is set to continue. Here are just a few of the choices on the market this winter.
Between the regions of Groot Drakenstein and Simonsberg in the Western provinces of South Africa, lie the vineyards at Boschendal, covering 2.54 sq km. Known in particular for its white wines, the land includes substantial plantings of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, along with more recent plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz.
When Boschendal was taken over by an American owner in 1969, along with Rhodes Fruit Farms, one of the key projects was to re-establish a range of wines under the Boschendal brand. Achim van Arnim was made cellarmaster in 1978, when he vowed to restore pre-eminence for the estate’s produce. It was then that “Blanc de Noir” was created — a “blush” white wine made from red grapes, an innovation that sets Boschendal Wines apart.
Classics of the Cape
On the slopes of Table Mountain, just outside Cape Town in South Africa, you will find the home of Kumala, quality wines that are full of character. In an area of exceptional natural beauty and lush fertility, Kumala sources the best fruits from all over South Africa’s wine producing lands; vineyards are located all over South Africa’s Western Cape from Olifants River, through Paarl and Stellenbosch to Worcester.
The winemaking team and growers work patiently and quietly, watching the individual grape varietals to ensure they benefit from the right amount of sunshine and water before getting picked at the optimum time. The name Kumala is derived from local dialects, and means ‘to do things differently’, and that shows in the finished product. The two main offerings from Kumala are:
Kumala Cape Classics – Red: a deep ruby-coloured wine with aromas of ripe red berry fruit, with a mocha undertone. On the palate, it is medium-bodied with spicy blackberry flavours
Kumala Cape Classics – White: a bright, clear wine, with light straw colour and a hint of green. Its fresh floral nose has hints of pineapple and tropical fruit, while on the palate, its crispness and acidity gives a longer finish.
When worlds collide
Two Oceans wines, known for their refreshing fruit profile and smooth style and one of South Africa’s great success stories, owe as much to where the vineyards are situated as to the expertise of their winemakers.
Two Oceans vineyards are situated in Cape Point at the southern tip of Africa where the warm Indian and the cold Atlantic Oceans meet. The impact of these two climates colliding is immense. Their connection, amidst crashing waves and soaring sprays, creates a unique set of conditions – cooling Atlantic sea breezes slow down the ripening of the grapes that ensures a refreshing acidity and intense fruit flavours while the warm African sun allows for sugar accumulation and flavour development.
The result is lively, delicious, fruit-driven wines – wines of charm and character that can be enjoyed young, but which have the necessary backbone to develop in the bottle. In other words, Two Oceans is fresh, delicious and full of life.
Two Oceans is proudly distributed by Febvre & Company in Ireland and is exported to 70 countries internationally.
Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon retail nationwide at €9.99.
Determined to establish a world-class winery
Graham Beck Wines is now entering its third generation as a family winery. It was established in 1983 when entrepreneur Graham Beck purchased Madeba farm outside the Western Cape town of Robertson with a fervent ambition to establish a world-class winery in this region, and since then the brand has extended to a second Graham Beck cellar in Franschhoek, one of the oldest wine-making regions in South Africa.
The brand is perhaps best known worldwide for its widely-acclaimed Graham Beck Brut, a sparkling wine made via the traditional Methode Cap Classique style which the winery believes gives the same level of quality and depth as Champagne for a fraction of the price. It has been enjoyed in the past by figures such as Nelson Mandela and Barak Obama (for both their inaugurations) as well as Bono and Britain’s Prince Harry, not to mention achieving constant critical acclaim from press at home and abroad.
Its core still wine range goes by the name of Game Reserve, where each variety is assigned one of the many indigenous (and endangered) animals and plants found in the Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve on the Robertson Estate. This reserve is a manifestation of the company’s environmental initiatives, which seek to protect the fragile ecosystem of their locale.
As well as a Sauvignon Blanc, other Graham Beck Game Reserve white wines available in Ireland are a Chenin Blanc and Viognier, providing an interesting New World take on these very Old World varieties, while for reds, South Africa’s ‘native’ Pinotage is joined by an excellent Shiraz.
Graham Beck has also long been noted for its social responsibility: it was one of the first wineries to proactively give back to its workers and community, most recently via the opening of The Graham & Rhona Beck Skills Centre in 2008.
Graham Beck wines are distributed by Findlater Wine & Spirit Group.