The Consulate of South Africa hosted a South African Wine Showcase recently at the Luxe Rodeo in Beverly Hills. As many are not familiar with the wines of South Africa it was a real treat to be able to taste a large selection of South African wines at one venue.
In South Africa most of the vineyards are located in the Western Cape, an area where the sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean play an integral part in the terrior and grape growing. These areas have a Mediterranean type climate. The growing season is a bit different than that of the United States, running from November through April.
The majority of wineries are located near the Cape Peninsula and in Cape Town. The three main grape growing regions are Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl although there are many others in the Western Cape as well as the Northern Cape.
Pinotage is the South African heritage grape. It is a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and is known for its smoky flavors. The Pinotage is known for smaller sized grape clusters and the skin to juice content is greater than most other varietals.
Here are some favorites from the tasting. Many are yet to be distributed in the United States.
The most outstanding wine in the white category was 2010 Botanica Chenin Blanc. This Chenin Blanc is very smooth and almost like a Chardonnay with nice minerality and hints of apricot. The wine comes from a vineyard of 50-year-old vines in the Clanwilliam district. This vineyard is dry farmed. It is the story behind both the label and the winemaker that are also intriguing. Winemaker Ginny Povall is a self-taught winemaker from Connecticut. She purchased a guesthouse and protea flower farm in the Devon Valley of South Africa. Her first vintage was in 2009. Ginny was captivated by the artwork of Mary Delany when she saw her work at the Yale Center for British Art. The botanical collages were created from hundreds of tiny pieces of cut paper in the late 1700’s. Ginny was able to license some of Mary Delany’s collages, which she now uses for her wine labels. These wonderful works of art not only adorn her bottles but Ginny named her wines after them.
Other whites worth mention are: Royal 2012 Chenin Blanc, a very fragrant wine with a spicy finish, Riebeek Cellars 2012 Chardonnay, which is a light refreshing unoaked Chardonnay, Mullineux 2012 Rhone Blend of Chenin Blanc, Claret and Viognier, a very complex blend, Mooi Bly Sauvignon Blanc, a bright crisp wine with a spicy finish and Bouchard Finlayson’s 2012 Blanc de Mer a blend of Riesling, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Viognier.
Interesting enough, another self-taught winemaker, Mary-Lou Nash, who was originally from Maine, created the most notable red of the evening. The wine, Black Pearl's 2010 Mischief Maker is a blend of 91% Shiraz and 9% Mourvédre. This wine is very fruit forward and has a tinge of sweetness with wonderful flavors of Cherries. What also makes this wine fascinating is the description on the back label describing the winemaker and her relationship with this wine. It reads, ”Mary-Lou is my name and mischief is my game. At least that is what I’m told. Following tradition is just not my style! So I’ve made a wine to match my personality… unabashed, bold and in your face. All my mates know they can count on me for some crazy fun! Seriously people sometimes ya’ just gotta shake things up a little.” The fruit forwardness of this wine is analogous with Mary’s unabashed and bold personality. The crazy fun is synonymous with the name mischief-maker and the wine itself is in your face with wonderful balanced flavors.
Painted Wolf Wines is worthy of note because of its dedication to helping the African Wild Dog also known as the “Painted Wolf”, a highly endangered species. Painted Wolf Wines makes a contribution to various charities that work with this endangered dog from the sale of each bottle of their wine. At Painted Wolf Wines the primary focus is the African Wild Dog, which is a pack animal. It is only natural that the philosophy of the team is that of a pack or den of dogs. The African Wild Dog roams the South African terrior and the wines of Painted Wolf ingratiate that terrior by utilizing unirrigated and organic methods of growing their grapes. The wines are adorned with a beautifully abstracted rendering of the Painted Wolf on each label. The 2012 Pinotage is smoky yet fruity and could be defined as a wine where Pinot Noir meets Syrah by its flavors.
Other reds worth mention are: Riebeek’s 2011 Pinotage, a smooth lighter fruit forward wine with hints of plum. Keermont, which means dead end because the winery is located at an end of a road, 2011 flagship red blend of 49% Merlot 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cab Franc and 6% Syrah with its flavorful notes of cherries. The cuisine of African is known as the pepper pot and how apropos for Edgebaston to create their own pepper pot to describe their Rhone blend. The Pepper Pot 2012 is a peppery spicy blend of Syrah, Mourvédre, Grenache, Cinsaut and Tannat. The Warwick 3 Cape Ladies 2010 Cape Blend is a nice blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinotage with its notes of coffee and chocolate.
All in all the Consulate of South Africa provided a nice rounded selection of wines to represent their wine region.
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