South African fine wine comes of age

south africa

South African fine wine comes of age

new wave south african wine tasting

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.

new wave sa tasting

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.

5 Comments on South African fine wine comes of ageTagged
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

5 thoughts on “South African fine wine comes of age

  1. Interestingly, there are merchants that attended the tasting that reported that that quality could only be found in the top end red wines. That the £10 – £20 bracket suffered from lack of fruit, greenness, possibly stemming from that age old problem in SA of Leaf roll virus.

  2. Sean: I too was there and tend to agree with Jamie about the amazing style and quality. Regarding the reported comments from the merchants, it is inevitable that some people will always love to imply that they are ‘in the know’ – even though the old issue of leaf roll virus in the red varieties in SA has long been dealt with …

  3. Sylvia, leaf roll is still an issue, and will continue to be for some time yet. It’s still one of the biggest challenges to wine quality in S.A., notwithstanding the massive progress made in recent years. We can’t sweep it under the carpet and hope it goes away.

    But in regard to this tasting, and the wines/wineries involved, I think the old mantra applies…’if they didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them’. Exciting to have SA wine viewed through this prism. Cheers.

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