#WedNightWineSchool South African wine safari
By debzbinden, Feb 7 2018 09:38PM
Despite a viticultural heritage going back over 350 years, the modern South Africa winemaking industry has been crucially shaped by developments in the last few decades. A gradual realignment towards globally popular styles has led to an almost balanced split between white and red wine production and significant percentages of major international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This has shift has taken place alongside the premiumisation and increased diversity of wine styles made from the Chenin Blanc grape variety which has found a natural home here and the unique talents of South Africa’s homegrown creation, Pinotage.
In our South African Wine Safari we tasted a selection of widely-available, representative styles. These included the exciting first vintage release of Rustenberg’s fruit-driven varietal Chenin Blanc, Flagstone’s juicy Pinotage and two very different wines from Boekenhoutskloof winemaker Marc Kent’s stable – the absolute bargain Porcupine Ridge vs its big brother The Chocolate Block.
Graham Beck Sparkling Brut Rosé, (£14.99 Majestic)
Made from Champagne varieties but with a character all of its own, this pink "Cap Classique" enjoys a refreshing fruitiness over layers of complexity.
Dawn Patrol Sauvignon Blanc, Cape South Coast, 2016, (£9.99 Waitrose)
Sitting somewhere between the two extremes of Sauvignon stylistics this is a cooler climate example showing bright purity of fruit and a mineral edge.
Rustenberg Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2017, (£9.99 Waitrose)
The maiden vintage for one of Stellenbosch's longest established wineries to produce their exciting expression of South Africa's leading white grape variety.
Porcupine Ridge Syrah, Swartland, 2017, £7.99 (Majestic, Sainsburys, Waitrose)
Top-value, award-winning Rhone-inspired Syrah from the hot-topic region of Swartland.
Flagstone Writers Block Pinotage, Breedekloof, 2015, (£14.99 Amazon)
This distinctive and memorable "bottle of joy" was made from South Africa's flagship grape variety by talented winemaker and storyteller Bruce Jack.
The Chocolate Block, Swartland, 2016, £25 (Majestic, Waitrose)
Showing that blends aren't necessarily inferior, The Chocolate Block is South Africa's brooding cult classic red blend. Reflecting the Swartland trend for Rhône inspired blends, this 2016 vintage is dominated by Syrah (with decreasing component percentages of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and a smidge of Viognier), resulting in a wine as smooth as the name suggests with a dark, spicy finish.
Check out the tastings schedule for details of future #WedNightWineSchool themes and dates.