Early this month I had the opportunity to visit South Africa together with 8 colleague sommeliers.
After a cold and grey start in Amsterdam we arrived on the Southern Hemisphere.
The winter has been replaced with summer time. A statement that is almost envious considering the Dutch climate, a real occupational hazard…something we suffered for the sake of the wine of course.
Like the European summers will the grapes be harvested during the Indian Summer time…on the Southern Hemisphere this is February time. A visit to the winery itself and leaning form the winemaker how this particular wines are grown, harvested and made is unlike any other experience.
We visited “cooler wine growing region”; “Hemel and Aarde”, close to the Ocean you can feel the cold freeze and saltiness. The wines therefore reflect high on minerality but with the sun very much present throughout the growing process with the deep ripe flavors.
South African winery used to produce wines like any other wine regions in the world; the Bordeaux blends or for example the New Zealand style Sauvignon Blancs wines. Of course will these wines remain well represented in the area but has the urge of producing something “just South African” taking over. Pursing something new they have create an unique to the Elgin region Sauvignon Blanc.
The South African dream didn’t stop there, in Swartland they take pride in their way of producing Chenin Blanc. Here you will find many aged vines, unlike other regions even up to 35 years. Most vines and regions replant after approximately 20 years.
A grape mostly known and used in the Loire (France) but unlike the French product these wines are mostly full bodied. A once in a life time trip with many memorable moments. On my way home, back to Vinkeles, I have decided to take a little South Africa with me; the Swartland Chenin Blanc. Now served in Vinkeles as well.