South African winemakers from across the Western Cape descended upon London this week for a series of tastings and events, bringing with them noise, biltong and some seriously good wines.
One of the most hotly-tipped events was the New Wave South Africa tasting where the country’s ‘young gun’ winemakers got together beneath a record shop in London’s Soho to showcase their new vintages; let’s just say there were more than a few top-knots and beards on display.
As well as a high level of quality across the board, one of the things that stands out about the New Wave movement is how down-to-earth and collaborative the winemakers are; be that on the ground in SA helping each other out with fruit, equipment and ideas, or at events like this where they are all too keen to sing each other’s praises.
Perhaps it’s this sort of attitude which makes South Africa such a dynamic winemaking nation where boundaries are constantly pushed and diversity is unashamedly embraced. Other countries and regions could learn a lot from this spirited bunch.
Tasting the wines on show and speaking to the winemakers (all of who were manning their own tables, pouring their own wines and telling stories along the way), it’s clear that there are a few common themes running though the SA scene at present.
Vineyard expression, a swing away from new oak, a move towards lower alcohol and a desire to experiment with field blends and unorthodox assemblages ran like a thread through the tasting. Of these, the embracing of new and interesting blends (both red and white) and a desire to unearth and play around with esoteric grape varieties were the most prominent.
The top 12 wines below tap into these trends, while also exploring some of the outstanding work being done in South Africa with the Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir varieties; pure examples of each are included in my run down of some of the best premium wines SA currently has to offer.