Yesterday was the New Wave South African tasting, held in a really cool venue under a vinyl shop in Soho. Rarely have I been to a tasting where the wines are as consistently good and interesting, and the people presenting them so great. There was a real buzz about the place.
There was also the sense that this tasting, and Cape Wine which preceded it, is an important marker in the progress of South African wine. I reckon in a decade’s time we’ll look back and say: ‘I was there.’ For this is when South African fine wine came of age.
What we are seeing in this particular segment of South Africa’s wine scene is really important. It’s the realization that warm climate wine regions can produce wines of balance, detail and precision. Wines that are interesting and ageworthy. The recognition that certain vineyard sites are privileged, and skilled winegrowers can interpret them to produce special wines.
There’s a welcome diversity too, here. Many have the confidence to interpret the terroirs they are working with in their way, allowing their own personalities to be expressed in the wines (in as much as you can have control over the wine style – after all, it’s microbes that make wine).
Of course, some will argue that this is just a small segment of South Africa’s wine output, and it is. But what is being achieved here will (and already has begun to) trickle down to change the more mainstream offering. I’m just thrilled to have been a witness to what is going on here. A new wave, a new generation, and a bright future.