Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

stiletto boot and mouse

 

While the empty bottles have long been gathered, the words continue to flow following the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, which concluded just a few days ago, in Penticton, British Columbia.

The Wine Blogger’s Conference has run for six years now, and this year brought together over 200 bloggers who share their love of the ancient fare either in personal blogs or with paid gigs at magazines or newspapers. It’s an enormous networking opportunity, as well as a chance to personally meet growers and bottlers, who want to make media connections of their own, and to show appreciation.

It’s also a sign of just how much wine blogging’s combined and varied voice has grown lately. Increasingly, readers are adding what’s served up to their RSS feeds, as digital sommeliers help them figure out what wines go with life in general.

Wine bloggers are far more than individuals who toss one back then bandy about terms like “oaky” or “buttery”, “grassy” or “mellow” for the rest of us to decipher. They truly want to broaden the wine-tasting experiences of their readers, trying out perhaps lesser-known wines from around the globe, in search of unique flavors that vintners have brought forth through a variety of secretive techniques. Bloggers Peter and Nancy at Pull That Cork just recently covered their experience with wines from South Africa, while blending in a history of the wine-growing history of the Cape area.
Read on …

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, Argentina

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza, Argentina

A first look at vintage quality in South America, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Ready to taste the first wines of 2013? While vines are just flowering in Europe and North America, the Southern Hemisphere has picked, crushed and fermented this year’s crop. Argentina and Chile experienced a cool growing season, which left vintners waiting for grapes to fully ripen. That wasn’t a problem for big reds like Argentina’s Malbecs and Chile’s Cabernet Sauvignon, but it could be trouble for Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming vintage. Check out Wednesday’s report on Australia and New Zealand and come back Friday for details on South Africa.

Argentina
The good news: A long, cool growing season produced what many winemakers are calling fresh wines

The bad news: Up and down temperatures tested winemakers’ patience and required long hang times for grapes to reach full maturation

Read on …

Also read:

Harvest at Spier, Stellenbosch.

Harvest at Spier, Stellenbosch.

A first look at vintage quality, with eyewitness reports from growers and winemakers

Ready to taste the first wines of 2013? While vines are just flowering in Europe and North America, the Southern Hemisphere has picked, crushed and fermented this year’s crop. South African grapegrowers enjoyed a wet winter, meaning healthy yields, followed by a dry, warm summer. But rain during harvest made picking anxious at times.

Here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming vintage. Check out Wednesday’s report on Australia and New Zealand and Thursday’s on Argentina and Chile.

South Africa
The good news: South Africa’s 2013 harvest has drawn praise from most producers, with a strong start and finish to the growing season

The bad news: A bit of rain and humidity mid-harvest forced some producers to scramble for proper canopy management and gamble, successfully, on better weather late

Read on …

Also read:

LaMotte

La Motte Wine Estate Vineyards.

The Blushing Bride, a rare white or pink flower with silky, pointy petals, is somewhat of a legend in the Franschhoek Valley. The story goes that it was discovered in the surrounding mountains in 1773 and came by its romantic name from its use in a rather romantic tradition. A French Huguenot farmer who was in love would wear this flower in his lapel when he decided to propose to the girl he fancied. The pinker the flower, the more serious his intentions were, causing the bride-to-be to blush at the sight of the flower.
 
Sadly, as with other near-extinct fynbos varieties in the region, the Blushing Bride disappeared from sight for many years. It was rediscovered about a century ago and since then conservationists have been determined to return the iconic flower to its former glory.
 
Today Blushing Brides, rare disas and various kinds of proteas are being brought back to life on the La Motte Wine Estate in Franschhoek, where they can be seen in full bloom in the estate’s large Protea Garden. La Motte’s proud collection of rare flower varieties that are lovingly cultivated and re-established in the area is one of the reasons for it to have been awarded Champion status in the Biodiversity in Wine initiative (BWI).
 
Although best known for its international wine brand, La Motte is an estate that has conservation and sustainability at its centre. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the beautiful Organic Walk guiding visitors through the vineyards, fynbos nursery and gardens on the farm and concluding with a tasting of the organically grown Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc.
 
The walk offers visitors the opportunity to see how passionate La Motte is about sustainable farming and conservation. Visitors have the chance to see and smell the Protea Garden and stroll through the sustainably farmed and organically grown vineyards, the indigenous landscaped gardens (this time of year a carpet of lush green and soft purple and white), the nursery where micro greens and orchids are cultivated, and the biodynamic vegetable and herb gardens that supply the Estate’s award-winning restaurant and farm shop with fresh seasonal produce.
 
Head Chef Chris Erasmus and his colleagues at Pierneef à La Motte restaurant visit the garden in their gumboots every morning to pick out the freshest seasonal produce for their signature Cape Winelands cuisine. Chef Chris also guides on what to plant in the garden and places orders ahead of season. Beautiful things are grown, like purple speckled beans, cucumber-shaped aubergines, peas, watercress, yellow and purple carrots, radicchio, kohlrabi, sour fig, rocket, sweet basil and the fine succulent Pork Bush (“Spekboom”) which can be used in salads.
 
La Motte has been farming organically since 2007 and in 2009 received EU and NOP organic certification by SGS in France and NOP organic certification by LACON in Germany. Everything on the farm bears testament to this ethos.  La Motte has long been a leader in flora conservation work and sustainable, eco-friendly farming practices in South Africa and this commitment has just earned it the title of South Africa’s top practitioner of sustainable wine tourism by the internationally respected Great Wine Capitals of the World (GWC) network. GWC annually awards top performers in wine tourism in ten wine regions of the world, including South Africa. 
 
La Motte was also the overall winner of the South African competition for the second year running, making it the best wine tourism player in the country, thanks to its acclaimed restaurant, art museum, architecture and wine.
 
A closer look at how things are done on the farm reveals a rare attention to detail in every aspect of the farm’s life. The Rupert family and its wider La Motte family are visibly passionate about sustainable farming and conservation.
 
More than ten percent of the land is dedicated to conservation. The entire farming operation is set up to be self-sustainable, which means that almost everything that is needed to keep the farm running is produced on the farm. Everything is about quality over quantity – a method that takes time to yield results, but pays dividends in the long run.
 
One case in point is how water is treated on La Motte as a precious and limited resource. Water used in the wine cellar is treated and purified using natural methods only, never with chemicals. The farm dam provides all the water the farm needs and receives its water from the Kastaiingsrivier and rain. The farm uses drip irrigation to save water and water meters are used throughout the farm to monitor water usage and catch leaks.
 
Special attention is also paid to the rehabilitation of the soil to keep it healthy and chemical-free. No chemicals have been used on the farm for the last seven years. Special earthworms are fed the kitchen waste to recycle it into concentrated compost that is diluted with water and used across the farm to nourish the soil and plants. Only natural methods are used for pest control and fertilisation. Dry mulch is used to keep out weeds and wet mulch is used to keep in moisture.
 
Visitors can extend the Organic Walk by taking the 5km hiking trail into the surrounding mountains.
 
The herbs grown on the farm, including lavender and buchu, are used for the extraction of essential oils that are used to make the range of Arômes de La Motte body products sold in the farm shop.
 
As CEO Hein Koegelenberg explains, La Motte took the path of sustainability at around the turn of the millennium. This meant that quality and consistency would come first. The whole La Motte experience has become testament to this new sustainable way of thinking, and today the estate’s international awards prove that it was a journey the international wine tourism industry supports and honours. It is an ethos that enjoys sharing its passions with guests in a way that both entertains and educates and in the end it has winners on all sides: the estate, its people, its visitors, the environment, the local tourism sector, and the regional economy.

Jeff Grier (CWG Chairman) and Andrea Mullineux.

 

At the end of last summer, loads of wine people suddenly all went nuts about a particular South African wine. Neal Martin, from The Wine Advocate, gave it 96 points. Joe Wadsack, an influential tasting god, raved about it to anyone who would listen and quite a few who didn’t. Julia Harding MW, of Jancisrobinson.com wrote it up in glowing terms, “Each mouthful lasts for ever.” Everywhere you looked it was, “Yeah, I tried Cartology ’11 before you’d even heard of it.”

There were only ever 5,000 bottles of this glorious £25 white – the 2011 was a blend of 92% chenin blanc from four different parcels of bush vines, with the balance made up of semillon from a vineyard in Franschhoek – and it sold out super-swiftly. Now the build-up for the next vintage, the 2012 (a few precious bottles are expected here in August – ask at Handford Wines, The Wine Society and Lay & Wheeler), has already started. “The 2011 was brilliant but the 2012 is better,” tweeted Jamie Goode (thewineanorak.com), who tasted it on a recent visit to the Cape.

Why am I telling you about a wine you may never be able to so much as sip? First of all because it’s almost unheard-of for a wine to come from nowhere and grab such attention. Second, and far more importantly, because Cartology catches the zeitgeist.

This isn’t just about one wine or even one winery, this bottle is representative of an entirely new and exciting wave of South African wines and winemakers.

 

Read on …

 

South Africa is looking at its biggest ever harvest this year despite a late and slow start to the growing season.

According to the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS), the 2013 grape crop is expected to hit 1,491,432 tons, exceeding the 2012 crop by 5.4% and larger than the last biggest harvest, 2008, by over 4%.

The overall harvest therefore –including juice, concentrate and wines for brandy and distilling – will reach over 1m litres, with an average 773 litres per ton of grapes.

In terms of quality, producers “are excited about a promising crop”, with good colour, structure and flavour particularly in the reds.
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South African wine exports to reach now high in 2013.

South African wine exports to reach now high in 2013.

 

South African wine exports are poised to beat their 2012 record this year following high yields and on demand for premium vintages from North America and Asia, industry executives and growers said.

Wine exports rose to 469 million liters (124 million U.S. gallons) in the year ending April 30, up 25 percent from the previous 12 months and more than triple the total shipped in 2000, data from the Wines of South Africa trade body, or WOSA, show. Bulk shipments rose 53 percent while those of bottled and packaged wines fell 5 percent, as large producers bottled more in export markets.

Although wine has been grown in South Africa since Dutch settlers arrived in the 17th century, the country was cut off from trade during the apartheid era of racial discrimination, which ended in 1994 with the first all-race elections. Two decades on, exporters are seeking to consolidate in established markets such as the U.K. and Germany while boosting sales in Asia and Africa.

“If you think about South Africa’s history, we’ve been making wine for 350 years but it’s only really since 1994 that we’ve actively pursued the export market, that we’ve been welcome and accepted,” Johan Erasmus, general manager of the Glen Carlou winery in the Paarl Valley north east of Cape Town, said at a London tasting in March. “We are much more in touch with consumers worldwide.”

A wet winter meant plenty of underground water, helping to boost yields in 2013, according to Su Birch, Chief Executive Officer at WOSA. Yields at the 2012 harvest rose to 14.13 metric tons per hectare (2.471 acres), the highest for at least six years, and probably climbed to about 14.90 tons this year, according to estimates based on preliminary data from WOSA.

 

Read on …

 

Distell is to preview its wines for the Nederburg Auction at the London International Wine Fair.

 

The 39th Nederburg Auction, which centres around rare South African wines, is to feature 133 wines from 80 wineries – 24 fewer wines than in 2012 in a bid to “let the best wines stand out”.

 

Sarah Gandy, Distell international marketing manager for wine in the UK and Europe, said: “London International Wine Fair is a great platform to showcase a range of the wines which have been entered to the Nederburg Auction while all of the key industry players are under one roof.

 

“The event gives potential buyers a chance to taste the Nederburg wines and facilitates pre-auction bids. We will also have the Nederburg white winemaker, Wim Truter with us throughout the event to help raise the profile of Nederburg wines and the auction.”

 

Commenting on the Nederburg wines chosen by the selection panel, cellar master Razvan Macici said: “This is a healthy development in the evolution of the auction.  With the wider availability of exceptional quality wines globally through a variety of channels, it becomes essential to present auction bidders with options deemed truly original or unique and we are proud to be among those having such limited-edition wines to offer.

 

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Global farmer-assistance program extends help to grapegrowers in Argentina, Chile and South Africa

When a small grapegrower in Argentina’s Luján de Cuyo district needed a kidney operation, his fellow farmers dipped into a shared fund to help pay for it. When another grower’s donkey died, the fund was tapped to buy him a new one. These 19 farmers, some of whom own as little as 3 acres, also invested in their vineyards, replaced roofs on their homes and provided supplies for the local school.

At a time when so many of their fellow small growers in Mendoza have been squeezed out, how did the landowners and vineyard workers, part of a group called Viña de la Solidaridad, manage all that? Viña de la Solidaridad had earned an extra $40,000 for these projects by participating in a fair-trade program, intended to fight poverty in developing nations, keep families on small farms and empower workers. Working with Bodega Furlotti, the growers earn a premium above-market price by supplying grapes for fair-trade wine lines, including Neu Direction Malbec, which was picked up by retail giant Sam’s Club.

“There was a real need from these communities for additional revenue to help improve their situation,” said Dave Leenay, executive vice president for sales for Prestige Wine Group, the U.S. importer instrumental in developing Neu Direction, along with Wandering Grape Merlot-Malbec, carried by Target. “And there was a need from the big corporations to talk about their commitment to helping be more sustainable and improving people’s lives.”

Best known for coffee, as well as bananas, tea and cocoa, the fair-trade movement is taking hold in the U.S. wine market, with a tiny but growing presence among imports from Argentina, Chile and South Africa. Purchases by large companies such as Whole Foods Market, Wal-Mart and American Airlines have helped give the category momentum.

 

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Women in the Cape winelands are standing up to be counted, and are now producing their own wine, bottled under the label Women in Wine.

A group of 20 women, all with backgrounds in the wine industry, formed the company seven years ago, with “the dream of giving women, especially farm workers and their families, a share in the industry”.

With varied skills in marketing, wine analysis, finance, development and training, and social responsibility, the one thing the partners all had in common was that they all “enjoy a glass of quality wine”.

Women in Wine is the first South African wine-producing company that is owned, controlled and managed entirely by women.

“To date, women have made a significant contribution to the Cape’s wine industry without receiving recognition or benefiting from the industry’s business opportunities,” says Beverly Farmer, a founder member and the chief executive.

 

Read on …