To celebrate the launch of our brand new South African collection we delve into one of the most exciting wine regions in the world…
“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.” Jamie Goode
What does your relationship with South African wines look like? You’d be forgiven for having swept them under the rug in previous generations, however times are a changin’. When we think of the modern South Africa, we think characterful, crisp whites, either from Chenin Blanc or increasingly Chardonnay. As for reds, prestigious producers continue to craft complex ‘Bordeaux blends’ whilst the younger generation favours lighter, savoury and often ‘natural’ blends or sumptuous Pinot Noirs.
South Africa’s wine making heritage dates back to the 16th century, with many centenarian vineyards still in production. The generally warm and dry climate is tempered by cool currents of the Atlantic Ocean. Ideal growing conditions for the production of elegant yet excellent value wines, nowadays consistently challenging the best of the best. Expect to see sunshine in a glass, with restraint and poise from the best examples!
THE HOME OF SOUTH AFRICAN WINE MAKING: SWARTLAND
Swartland, a large wine-producing area, is located 65km north of Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa. Typical wines produced here specialise in making rich, fruit-driven wines from the Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage grape varieties.
The area is home to some of the best wines in the country as well as some of the most progressive producers. The climate is warm and dry, the terroirs are diverse (it has among the oldest soils in the world), and the landscape is breathtaking. Swartland, meaning ‘Black Land’ is anything but dark, with golden wheatfields, mountains and a diverse landscape. At the foot of these Paardeberg mountains, you’ll find an unpretentious wine community.
One of our favourite producers with vineyards in Swartland is Mullineux, established in 2007 by Chris and Andrea Mullineux. Their wines are grown and made with a no-compromise approach to quality.
“This is one of the cooler, more thoughtful producers from South Africa at the moment, and bound to the exciting Swartland Independent group that are rattling chains over on the African continent. Sustainable farming, minimal intervention, no additions.” Mike Bennie
One of our favourite bottles from this collection is our Mullineux Kloof Street Red 2018. Perfumed nose of violets, spice and purple fruit. The medium to full bodied, food-friendly palate that is textured with firm yet approachable tannins and a fresh, lingering finish.
THE HOME OF SOUTH AFRICAN WINE MAKING: FRANSCHHOEK
Franschhoek, South Africa’s oldest settlement and the wine production capital. Despite Dutch influence, it’s the French Huguenots we have to thank for this special heritage (Franschhoek means “French Corner” in Dutch). The Huguenots brought their knowledge of wine-making.
The fertile Franschhoek Wine Valley is home to some of South Africa’s noble cultivars and classic styles. These range from the classics such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc, to the full-bodied reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
THE HOME OF SOUTH AFRICAN WINE MAKING: PAARL
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay all thrive within this region. Paarl’s huge variation of terroir gives wine farms opportunities to experiment with many different grape varieties and blends. The reds tend to be rich and complex with high intensity fruit aromas, where whites tend to be more tropical in style.
In terms of the landscape, the Boland Mountains sit to the east and the west is Paarl Rock. Paarl’s vineyards are found on the lower slopes of Paarl Rock, on the northern side of Simonsberg Mountain, in the valley of the Berg River. This landscape provides well-drained granite and shale soils for the vines, making them stronger and inhibiting yields.
Paarl’s climate is the most continental in South Africa, with long, hot summers leading to cold winters with soothing rainfall helping to rejuvenate the vines.
One of the leading lights in Paarl is the Natte Valleij Farm. The present owners, the Milner family, bought Natte Valleij in 1969 and for 27 years it was a breeding ground for top South African racehorses. In 2005 the winery was reestablished, with fruit being sourced from premium dry grown, old vine sites throughout the Western Cape.
Our Natte Valleij Cinsault 2018 has a deep perfumed lift on the nose with silky tannins. Red fruit flavours such as cherries, strawberries, ripe fruits, and a hint of spice and a sun-soaked savouriness. Long bright finish.
THE HOME OF SOUTH AFRICAN WINE MAKING: WALKER BAY
Walker Bay is situated in the Cape Overberg Region, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Once known as a laid-back tourist destination, now known as a force of wine production. Walker Bay is situated between Cape Agulhas and False Bay and is home to the well-known whale watching holiday hotspot of Hermanus.
The Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley has an ideal climate for grape growing, as the wind from the Atlantic Ocean cools it down during the warm summer months. In addition, the mountains, which surround the valley, lock in clouds and the resultant moisture, so that the vines get plenty of water. The Onrust River is another aspect of this valley’s geography, and is an integral part of its irrigation.
Crystallum is renowned for being one of the most lauded producers from the region, crafting exceptional quality wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Winemaking follows Burgundian principles and the resulting bottlings show extraordinary finesse and savoury quality coupled with exuberance of fruit profile.
Crystallum Peter Max Pinot Noir 2018 is an elegant, complex vintage showing beautifully integrated fruit and savoury notes. Raspberry, red cherry and cinnamon on the nose, with confected strawberry and orange rind on the palate.
If you enjoyed this, why not continue reading our Christmas Wishlist blog here