The South African wine industry commits to sustainability

South African wines are known globally for many things: wide range of styles; diversity of climate and geography; unique varietals; transition between the old and the new world.  But not many people know the Cape Winelands are located in the Cape Floral Kingdom, a world heritage site, one of six plant kingdoms in the world, with more than 9500 plant species. This piece of natural significance, located on the most southern point of the African continent, in the area surrounding Cape Town is where 70% of the plant species found cannot be found anywhere else on earth.

With this unique biodiversity, preserving the natural heritage of the land has become a focus for the South African wine producers. With the boom in the export market, the area being planted to vines in South Africa in on the increase.  Farmers are identifying what is unique and rare on their farms and finding ways to preserve the natural fynbos and renosterveld (translated as rhino fields); local names for the indigenous vegetation, and to minimize further loss of the threatened natural habitat as their plantings increase.

The South African wine industry supports conservation, and special biodiversity guidelines have been written. A program in sustainable farming was initiated called the Integrated production of Wine (IPW).  It became compulsory for farmers in 1998 and it concentrates on every stage in the wine production process.  Environmental impact studies, soil preparation, use of recyclable packaging, as well as botanical audits to preserve endangered or sensitive species, and using indigenous plants as cover crops.  Farmers also are required to set aside undeveloped land on their farms to preserve the natural ecosystems.

South African wine bodies are working together to drive the industry’s commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly production of wine.  The Wine and Spirit board seal on the bottle guarantees this and has a unique seal number which can be verified online (www.sawis.co.za)

Consumers can now know that South African wine is the real deal when it comes to sustainability and not just a form of green rubber stamping to appease wine drinkers.  With that in mind, it is worth exploring the wonderful treasures that this little slice of Africa has to offer.  A recent tasting revealed some delightful wines, all found in the main section of the LCBO, hence, they are easy drinking value wines, and all on promotion for the month of January:

Vinologist Sauvignon Blanc $12.95 (currently $10.95) https://www.vinologist.co.za

  • Fresh, zingy, passionfruit and grapefruit notes

Fleur du Cap Chardonnay $12.95 (currently $10.95) https://www.fleurducap.co.za/wines/

  • Lovely lemon tones, no real sign of oakiness, just the softness and complexity of oak barrels

The Grinder Pinotage  $14.00  (currently selling for $12.00) https://www.grapegrinder.com/grinder-pinotage

  • A great expression of the South African Pinotage grape, loads of blackberry and plum fruit and coffee toastiness from the oak

Porcupine Ridge Syrah $15.95 (currently $12.95) https://www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/porcupine-ridge/

  • A great value Syrah with notes of black pepper and black cherry

Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright
Cape Wine Master

Puglia’s Negroamaro – to be discovered

I traveled to Puglia, Italy early October 2019 to attend a four-day educational tour.  The Educational Tour Guagnano (Salento – Puglia – Italy) “Negroamaro Stories” was carried out with the support of the Comune di Guagnano, the Municipality of Trepuzzi, the Gal Terrad’Arneo, the Municipality of Porto Cesareo, of the National Association of AIS of Lecce, and  Solento Wine Shop.

Puglia is geographically located in the south-eastern tip of Italy, covering 7,469 sqm. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the east, by the Ionian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its climate is Mediterranean, with hot summer temperatures only partially mitigated with sea breezes.

On my first day I attended the Museo del Negroamaro for a press conference, which kicked off the 2019 “Stories of Negroamaro” tour. In attendance were partner organizations, participating wineries, local politicians, and artist Arianna Greco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conference speeches and presentations were given (in Italian) by:

Antonio Rizzo – Ass. cultura e al marketing territoriale del Comune di Guagnano;

Claudio Maria Sorrento – Sindaco del Comune di Guagnano;

Chiara Tondo – Ass. all’Agricoltura del Comune di Guagnano;

Cosimo Durante – Presidente Gal Terra d’Arneo;

Viviana D’Amico – Presidente del Comitato Tecnico Organizzativo del Premio Terre del Negroamaro; and

Titolari e Rappresentanti – Aziende Vinicole Guagnano.

The conference introduced us to the Guagnano and Terra d’Arneo area and presented grape harvest data for 2018-2019.

After the presentations and speeches, I met and mingled with Italian wine journalists, winegrowers and members of the local and regional associations, while tasting the delicious local cuisine.

After lunch, I participated in a tour of the Museo del Negroamaro.  I found out that the Museum was formerly a millstone from the 1800s. It now houses antiques and antiquities from yesteryear, such as traditional presses, barrels, fermenters, weighs, pressure switches, and other tools and equipment previously used in the processing of grapes and winemaking. The Museum also houses the Negroamaro Study Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next four days, I will be visiting eight wineries or Cantinas in Puglia and tasting their DOC and IGT wines, with a focus on the indigenous varieties Primitivo and Negroamaro.  The participating wineries include: Cantele Cantele; Cantina Sociale Enotria; Vini Leuci; Feudi di Guagnano; Cantine Cosimo Taurino; Cantina Moros di Claudio Quarta; Taurino Francesco; and Tenuta Marano.

The first winery visit was Cosimo Taurino

The Taurino family have been growing grapes and making wines in Puglia for seven generations. This multi-award-winning estate owns 80 hectares of cultivated vineyards exclusively with Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes, both indigenous to Salento.  The Taurino’s family respect for terroir and for native grapes is inspiring, and their impact on the vinous history of Puglia is unprecedented.

 

 

Two wines that really stood out for me were:

Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro Salento  2010

100% Negroamaro

Tasting Notes:  This wine offers complex aromas of cherries and raspberry, with some notes of wood and spice, which all come through on the palate;  this medium-bodied wine has fleshy tannins and a long finish.

Cosimo Taurino, Patriglione 2013

100% Negroamaro

Tasting Notes:  This wine has notes of red berries, leather, tobacco, and some traces of pepper. It’s a rich and full-bodied wine with a good balance.

Unfortunately, I could not complete the rest of the tour due to a family emergency.

 What I learned in Salento….

About  Negroamaro

Negroamaro is a deep, black-colored grape with taste characteristics of black currant, cherry, blackberry and cloves with some cinnamon undertones.  It is almost exclusive to the Salento region (Brindisi and Lecce) and is harvested in late September.

Negroamaro is used in 13 regional Dop labels (out of 28 in Puglia) and is produced in the provinces of: Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto: Alezio, Brindisi, Copertino, Galatina, Leverano, Lizzano, Matino, Nardò, Negroamaro in Terra d’Otranto, Salice Salentino, Squinzano, and Terra d’Otranto.

Negroamaro has a high alcohol content with some floral and fruity aromas; this makes it an ideal blending wine because the aroma does not distract from other grape varieties.

The Soil

It is worth mentioning that one of the secrets to the fabulous tasting Pugliese wine is the soil.  It’s dense red clay, high in iron-oxide – this provides a sweet, structured, full-bodied wine.

Over the last few years, the wines of Salento have been gaining tremendous success. The next-generation winemakers have both improved the taste and the image of the wines in this emerging wine region.

A special thank you to the municipal administrations, for organizing this wonderful trip.  I’m looking forward to going back to Puglia in the near future and learning more about this up-and-coming wine region.

Liz Palmer

 

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 3 of 3] — VDP “Große Lage” Seminar and Tasting

A special trade seminar was held the following morning with a specific focus on VDP “Große Lange.” The seminar was held in the beautiful Kurhaus Wiesbaden, which is unmistakable Wiesbaden’s landmark. This magnificent neoclassical building is the city’s convention center.

VDP stands for Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (or the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates). It was founded as a regional association in the Rheingau over a hundred years ago with the goal of recognizing and encouraging quality producers of dry wines.

The VDP has selected and classified the best German vineyard sites coming from all 13 of the country’s wine-producing regions. In 2019, there are 200 members. The logo for VDP is an eagle with grapes on his chest. If you see this logo on a bottleneck, you know that it comes from one of the best vineyards in Germany and is a trustworthy guarantee for the quality within. VDP has four classifications:

VDP Gutswein –  these are often the first wines of a wine year to be bottled and sold. They must come from estate-grown grapes and the producers are given freedom here to experiment and innovate.

VDP Ortsweine – these are wines that express regionality. The grapes must come from one village and offer a sense of expression of that particular place. Only regional grape varieties are used, and many come from the higher-classified Grosse Lage or Erste Lage sites.

VDP Erste Lage – these wines are Premier Cru from first-class vineyards where there are optimal growing conditions. These wines must also be grown with a view to sustainability and tradition.

VDP Grosse Lage – these wines come from the highest quality German vineyards. They are complex, express single vineyard sites, and are known for their long-aging. These wines also must also be grown and made with a view to sustainability and tradition.

Membership is by invitation only, and with producers known for long-standing quality and a commitment to excellence.  Members must also adhere to strict rules including low yields, higher starting must weights, selective hand harvesting, and five-yearly inspections.

Promotion remains a major aspect of its activities. The VDP has developed its own quality pyramid based on the official German system,  with a specific focus on dry wines. Recently, they introduced a new classification for Sekt, German sparkling wine.

5% of Germany’s vineyards are included in the VDP classification, accounting for 7.5% of the turnover of the German wine industry.

Riesling is the most important grape among VDP producers with 55% of all VDP vineyards planted with Riesling, compared to 23% across Germany as a whole.

 

 

Other grape varieties approved for VDP Grosse Lage certification include:

Chardonnay

Weissburgunder

Spätburgunder

Grauburgunder

Frühburgunder

Traminer

Drake Launches 2008 Vintage Champagne

Having unveiled his first Mod Sélection Champagne in January this year, Canadian rapper Drake is now ending the year by launching two 2008 vintage expressions.  Priced at US $480 and US $550 a bottle respectively is Mod Sélection Réserve Vintage 2008, and Mod Sélection Rosé Vintage 2008.

Mod Sélection Réserve is a blend of 10% Pinot Noir, 55% Meunier and 35% Chardonnay. According to the producer Maison Pierre Mignon, this wine has aromas of “rich, ripe fruit” with flavours of “orange peel, dried apricot, pineapple, brioche, nutmeg and clove” on the palate.

Mod Sélection Rosé Vintage 2008  is made using the saignée method and is a blend of 10% Pinot Noir, 50% Meunier and 40% Chardonnay. According to the producer it’s described as having a “deep-salmon hue” with “concentrated and complex fresh red fruit on the palate” with honey, ginger and sweet spice.

Commenting on the launch, founder and CEO of Mod Sélection Champagne, Brent Hocking, said: The attention to detail in every aspect of our production process is what sets this Champagne apart from all other 2008 vintages the industry has seen this year.

“We have purposely waited to release these special blends to ensure optimum quality and purity – and we believe they’re worth the wait.”

These releases mark the third and fourth product launches from the brand, following the launch of the Mod Réserve Champagne (US$300) and a Mod Rosé Champagne (US$400) earlier this year.

The new vintage Champagnes will be packaged in the brand’s brown metallic bottles and adorned with bronze detailing, made by craftsman from the Champagne region.

Champagne brand Mod Sélection operates in partnership with Champagne Pierre Mignon, a family-owned Champagne house based in Le Breuil in the Vallée de la Marne. The house has 16 hectares of vines, located in the Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, and Epernay.

Website: http://www.modselectionchampagne.com

British Columbia’s Two (Award-Winning) Indigenous Wineries – Virginia Hutton

During my visit to Okanagan in October, I attended the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, and also had the opportunity to visit British Columbia’s two Indigenous wineries.

50 Years ago, the first aboriginal winery in Canada, Nk’Mip Cellars was launched by former Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Sam Baptiste. Osoyoos, in British Columbia’s, (BC) Okanagan region is Canada’s only desert and its sandy soils are used for growing 40% Okanagan wines.

The Okanagan region is located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and has a dry and mild climate with no month having a below 0°C average temperature. The summers are hot and dry with temperatures occasionally topping 40 °C.

Nk’Mip Cellars, (pronounced ‘inkameep’), located on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve,is part of the development including the Hyatt’s Spirit Ridge Hotel, and the Sonora Dunes Golf Course. Owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, Nk’Mip was the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America and is ideally located, having been rated a class 1 site according to 1984 Atlas of Suitable Grape Growing Atlas in the Okanagan, and Similkameen Valleys. Justin Hall, a member of the Osoyoos Indian band and current Winemaker arrived in 2004. Nk’Mip Cellars was awarded the 2016 Intervin Winery of the Year and #2 Winery in BC in 2018 from Wine Align. Nk’Mip varieties include: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Rose, and Ice Wine.

The Osoyoos Indian Band leases the majority of their 380 acres in the Okanagan, with 60 acres producing Nk’Mip’s 18,000 cases annually. Distribution extends to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

The second Indigenous winery, Indigenous World Winery, is owned by Robert Louie, former Chief of the Westbank First Nation and his wife Bernice. They are descendants of the original Sylix people of Okanagan. Located in West Kelowna, Indigenous World Winery has produced a number of award-winning wines, most recent, winning one silver and 2 bronze awards at the 2019 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada. Varieties include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Auxerrois, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Merlot, Marechal Foch, Chardonnay, Muscat.

With 5 leased properties and 2.5 acres of estate land, Indigenous World Winery produces just over 10,000 cases annually, primarily for the BC and Alberta markets.

Indigenous tourism is booming in British Columbia, allowing visitors the opportunity to explore indigenous culture and engage with communities they might not otherwise connect with. The Okanagan Region’s beautiful landscapes, rich history, wonderful hospitality, and award-winning wines deliver an outstanding experience for all wine lovers!

For further information:

Nk’Mip Cellars
http://www.nkmipcellars.com/

Indigenous World Winery
https://www.indigenousworldwinery.com/

Okanagan Wine Festivals Society
http://www.TheWineFestivals.com