South Africa must make the most of Pinotage if its wine industry is to thrive, Piero Antinori told the 28th International Nederburg Auction.

Giving the opening address at the auction, which took place last weekend in Paarl, South Africa, the Tuscan producer predicted the global industry could be on the threshold of ‘an overproduction of fine wines on an international scale’ after the 11 September attacks on America.

He said a clear, long-term vision is ‘absolutely necessary for success’, and New World countries should identify key local varieties.

‘This has happened in California with Zinfandel, in Australia with Shiraz, in New Zealand with Sauvignon Blanc, in Argentina with Malbec, in Uruguay with Tannat – and it is happening perhaps in Chile with Carmenère,’ he told the audience.

‘South Africa has its Pinotage. I know there is still debate on this subject in some quarters, but if there is certainty and conviction that this variety can bring forth a world-class wine, then it would indeed be important to promote it even more worldwide.’

Antinori also said South Africa could play an important role in bringing the Old and New World closer together.

‘South Africa is in the unique position of being somewhere between the Old and the New World,’ he said. ‘The Old World is very against unnatural additions in wines. We cannot have a product called wine that contains flavourings in one part of the world, while elsewhere it doesn’t have any.

‘Wine should be produced in a totally natural way. In a globalised market there is no room for products that don’t meet absolutely perfect standards.’

Written by Kim Maxwell in South Africa15 April 2002