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DFWE 2023: PIWOSA Discovery Tasting of wine and music

What does a multi-vintage Chenin Blanc have to do with Pink Floyd, or a Stellenbosch Syrah with Luther Vandross? All was revealed at this Decanter Fine Wine Encounter Discovery Theatre in a tasting hosted by the Premium Independent Winemakers of South Africa (PIWOSA). Tina Gellie reports.

With a name like A night at South Africa’s Wine Opera: jazz, classics and much more… it was no wonder the last Discovery Theatre at London’s 2023 Decanter Fine Wine Encounter drew the crowds.

Not only was the session full, but even after more than six hours of visiting stands in the Grand Tasting and Cellar Collection room, guests lingered after the session to enjoy the last few sips of their eight tasting samples and to queue for a chance to speak to the presenters.

Scroll down for tasting notes and scores of the PIWOSA Discovery Theatre wines

Ken Forrester, owner and winemaker of Ken Forrester Wines, and Tom Hanson-Smith, a director of Journey’s End Vineyards, made an engaging double act in showcasing the diverse wines of PIWOSA – the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa.

PIWOSA is a diverse yet like-minded group of 12 producers from across the Cape winelands: Avondale (Paarl), De Grendel (Durbanville), Glenelly Estate (Stellenbosch), Jordan Wine Estate (Stellenbosch), Journey’s End Vineyards (Somerset West), Ken Forrester Wines (Stellenbosch), Klein Constantia (Constantia), Paul Clüver Family Wines (Elgin), Raats Family Wines (Stellenbosch), Radford Dale (Stellenbosch), Springfield Estate (Robertson) and The Drift Estate (Overberg).

DFWE 2023: PIWOSA-Ellen-Richardson

Ken Forrester, owner/winemaker of Ken Forrester Wines, and Tom Hanson-Smith, a director of Journey’s End Vineyards. Credit: Ellen Richardson

Many are family-run businesses, others from larger companies; some with more than three centuries of history, several who have been operating for just two decades. But all are united in their aim of making premium wines, sharing them with wine lovers around the world and, in so doing, flying the flag for all South African wine.

And South African wine had something for everyone, no matter what your taste, Ken Forrester told the Discovery Theatre attendees. Just like music, the reason behind his naming this Discovery Theatre A night South Africa’s Wine Opera: jazz, classics and much more…

‘But if you want to play jazz – or rock, pop, anything – you need to learn the classics,’ he explained. ‘It’s only when you have a classical background that you can start being experimental.’

He said the eight wines in this Discovery Theatre (sadly, an hour was not enough time to present a wine from each of the 12 PIWOSA members) was an attempt to take attendees ‘on a journey through South Africa of the regions, grape varieties, incredibly exciting winemaking techniques and quirky, individual winemaker personalities’.

DFWE 2023: PIWOSA wines and music

DFWE 2023: PIWOSA - Ellen Richardson

The eight PIWOSA wines tasted at the DFWE 2023 Discovery Theatre. Credit: Ellen Richardson

We have taken the liberty of attributing an artist and music style to each of the eight wines in the tasting along with some classic Ken Forrester quotes. But music preference, as with wine, is all a matter of personal taste, so if our comparison doesn’t resonate with you, do still buy and try the wines for yourself. And if you think there’s a better music match, do let us know at editor@decanter.com

  • Klein Constantia, Clara Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia 2022
    Maria Callas (Opera): ‘The richness of a fine olive oil with a straight-backed spine of acidity’
  • Avondale, Cyclus White, Paarl 2019
    Ella Fitzgerald (Jazz): ‘All sorts of notes you’d never thought would go together’
  • Ken Forrester, Dirty Little Secret Four, Piekenierskloof MV
    Pink Floyd (Prog Rock): ‘Individual, experimental’
  • Jordan Wine Estate, Assyrtiko, Stellenbosch 2022
    Kraftwerk (Electronica): ‘Pragmatic, pioneering.’
  • Paul Clüver, Seven Flags Chardonnay, Elgin 2022
    Eroica/Beethoven’s 3rd (Symphony): ‘A symphony of flavour and texture’
  • Journey’s End, The Griffin Syrah, Stellenbosch 2018
    Luther Vandross (R&B) ‘Smooth’
  • The Drift Estate, Ghost in the Machine Shiraz, Western Cape 2021
    REM (Alternative Rock) ‘Imaginative’
  • Glenelly Estate, Lady May, Stellenbosch 2017
    Three Tenors (Opera) ‘Stately, impressive’

Sustainability and social uplift

PIWOSA members are united in their commitment to sustainability. All have removed chemicals in their vineyards, recycle water, embraced cover crops to boost soil heath and are helping protect the Cape’s renowned plant diversity by rewilding. Additionally, five members are World Wildlife Fund Conservation Champions and Journey’s End Vineyards was one of the first wine farms in the country to convert to solar power.

Social uplift, too, is a key pillar of PIWOSA membership – being a force for good and helping local communities. This spans everything from housing and soup kitchens to anti-bullying workshops in schools, gender-based violence rehab clinics and foetal alcohol syndrome crêches. Education, however, is a big emphasis, whether that is creating schools or via bursaries – all the way up to the three-year Cape Winemakers’ Guild Protégé Programme in oenology and viticulture.

DFWE 2023: PIWOSA Discovery Theatre tasting of South Africa’s ‘wine opera’

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