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

French Super Chef Alain Ducasse Reduces Wine Prices to Discourage “Dry January”

Internationally famed French Chef Alain Ducasse declares war on the “Dry January” trend.  At the beginning of January, Chef Ducasse was “horrified” to see New York diners drinking iced tea at lunch and not wine. Shortly thereafter he launched an initiative to entice patrons of his restaurants to drink wine during the first month of the year, not less.

“I’ve noted that trend, but I don’t want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it,” states Chef Ducasse and he further adds that he wants to “rid consumers of their inhibitions” with regards to drinking wine.

In November, the French government abandoned a campaign urging people to give up alcohol in January after the wine industry pushed president Emmanuel Macron to drop it.

“Dry January” began in the UK in 2013 and has since been adopted around the world. Last year one in five Americans participated in the initiative, giving up alcohol for the first month of the year.

Alain Ducasse has runs restaurants all over the world, including the three Michelin star Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London and Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée in Paris.

What are your thoughts on this ?

Provence Wine Council approves a €21 three-year strategic marketing plan for export markets

At its AGM last month, the Provence wine council (CIVP) approved a three-year action plan costing €7 million a year, which includes drives in no fewer than 15 export markets. From 2019-2024, Provence’s producers have established a clear agenda to support premiumization of their wines; increase the share of exports from 37% to 45%; and diversify shipment destinations, particularly towards the Asia/Pacific region (more specifically to China and Japan).

“Our actions in France and abroad are aimed at constantly increasing the reputation and image of our appellations across the globe. A levy increase is never taken lightly. This bold decision is a sign that producer companies are aware of the challenges to be met and the collective resources that need to be deployed”, states Jean-Jacques Bréban, chairman of the Provence wine council.

https://www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/civp

Wine Technology:  Bordeaux’s first wine with augmented reality label revealed

Château Laffitte Carcasset has just released a new wine which, when viewed through an app on a smartphone, appears in augmented reality.

The wine, a classic 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40% Merlot blend, is destined for the export market and pays tribute to a key figure in the region’s history.

Jean Lafitte bought a wine estate in ‘Carcasset’ in 1781, naming the estate after himself and passing it down to his children.

The 35-hectare estate has partnered with the SnapPress app and POSQA, a start-up that supports augmented reality projects, on the initiative.

The producer hopes it brings “young, connected consumers” to the brand, and also to Bordeaux.

Made from grapes sourced from the 2016 vintage, the wine was fermented in stainless steel vats before being matured in oak for 12 months, creating a wine that is approachable and “easy-to-drink in its youth”.

Eden Villages, owned by French businessman Pierre Rousseau, acquired a majority stake in estate in 2017. Since 1958 it had been owned by members of the Padirac family.

Upon acquiring Laffitte Carcasset, his first winery, Rousseaux said he would implement a renovation and restructuring project, drawing on his experience gained through running his company, which specializes in mobile homes and motorhomes and already deals in the wine tourism sector.

 

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