South African World Cup. Of Wine.


Well, with the Bafana Bafana team virtually out of the competition, it’s time to take a look at the country’s wines again. On June 15th Wines of South Africa celebrated the cup with a tasting at the V room at Earl’s in Yaletown. Nice atmosphere, great venue with windows facing Mainland St. and a lot of good snacks set the tone for a good tasting. A very convenient booklet with information about South Africa’s wine industry, about the exhibitors and their wines made a big difference. Also, the tables were arranged in a sequence mirroring that one of the pages of the booklet, so it was easy to find the wines you wanted to taste.

A FEW FACTS

South Africa has just over 100K hectares of vines cultivated. That is close to 50 times the amount in BC. Considering the size of the country, there is plenty of room for expansion.

Over 50% of grapes produced are white, with Chenin Blanc (called “Steen”) leading the pack. Contrary to popular belief, neither Pinotage nor Shiraz are the most ubiquitous red grape in the country. That honor is taken by Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many wineries are leaders in offering empowerment and opportunity to poor people, through work and education in the wine industry.

South Africa’s wine industry is a leader in fair and ethical trade wines.

Contrary to popular belief, Pinotage (a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut) tastes really good.

To the vino and the show.

First of all, South Africa offers incredibly good value.

Second, it seems that consumers are getting over the “black legend” about the wines from the land of Winnie Madikazela Mandela being  stinky or of lesser quality.

Third, I am convinced now that Vancouverites will never get that there is NOTHING WRONG  with spitting at a tasting.

Let me start by saying something about the entry level products. The Sauvignon Blancs and Chenin Blancs around the 10 dollar mark offer fantastic quality for the money. Here a few examples of what you should look for if you want really delicious value:

  • Man Vintners Chenin Blanc 2008
  • Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2009
  • Stormy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009
  • Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc 2009

But really the wine that stood out in this group was the Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Riesling 2009. Off dry and minerally with firm fruit and beautiful limey acidity, this is a real winner at 12-14 dollars retail.

To be continued….

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