It looks like South African fine wines in 2016 are reaching new heights internationally. Some talk about, ‘the most exciting phase in history for South African wine’; others say, ‘It’s South Africa’s time to shine’ or ‘South Africa is the most exciting country in the wine world at the moment’. Wine buyers, critics, writers and discerning consumers are all enthralled by the rise of adventurous winemakers exploring new terroir, new winemaking techniques and new varieties. “Overall, wine quality has increased dramatically over the last five years and the consumer is now spoilt for choice with a wealth of new producers, varieties and styles,” says Roland Peens, director of wine retailer, winecellar.co.za. So, what are top wine trends in 2016 in South Africa?
The year of chenin blanc
It was predicted a while ago, but it seems that 2016 is going to finally be the year of chenin. “Over the last few years, consumers are realising how good chenin blanc is to drink, how many styles are available and the good value at all levels. The use of old vines have made chenin blancs even more palatable,” says Allan Mullins from Woolworths. “We are no longer afraid to say it out loud, that chenin blanc is awesome,” adds Adam Mason, winemaker at Mulderbosch.
Trending in Woolworths: Klein Zalze Chenin Blanc and one of my favourite, Cederberg Chenin Blanc
Lighter red wines are ‘hot’
Savvy consumers want red wine with more character, freshness and less alcohol. “Think cinsault, grenache noir, gamay, even unwooded pinotage!” says Higgo Jacobs, certified sommelier. “Cinsault and grenache – I call them ‘ladies’ reds’ –
both have feminine appeal and, when served lightly chilled, make a great summer red. Flavourful, but with a certain elegance in their body,” adds Rebecca Constable, product developer at Woolworths.
Think Waterkloof Cinsault, Ken Forrester Grenache Noir
Chardonnay is back! Lighter, elegant styles are replacing the oaky, buttery numbers of yesteryear.
Cool climates such as those of Hemel-en-Aarde and Elgin are leading the way,” says Ewan Mackenzie, the sommelier also called the ‘wine thief’.
Some of the stunners: Paul Cluver and Newton Johnson
Ravishing rosé: “Hot news! Don’t expect this revolution to slow down in 2016. Rosé in magnums
It’s a real deal,” says Pieter (Bubble) Ferreira from Graham Beck wines. “No longer sickly sweet and a deep rusty pink in colour, sophistication has hit with a bang – with lighter colours, subtle, balanced flavours. A great sundowner option,” says Rebecca.
Try Tamboerkloof or Warwick Rosé
Sparkling wine is booming all over the world. It is becoming an any-time drink, rather than just a wine for celebration. Also, people are realising what a great accompaniment it is for a meal. In South Africa, the upswing in sparkling-wine sales is very much due to wine lovers discovering the amazing quality and value of our Méthode Cap Classique bubblies.
Try Silverthorn or Graham Beck
Niche white varieties are cool
Innovative viticulturists and winemakers are exploring (or reviving) different varietals better suited to South Africa’s soil and climate. “Watch the following: viognier, grenache blanc, roussanne and marsanne from the Rhône; semillon from Bordeaux. Semillon has been overlooked for too long and is (hopefully) due to make waves. The Rhône varieties have got winemakers very excited and have great wines are on the way,” says Allan Mullins.
Discover Steenberg and Shannon Semillon, Mullineux Semillon Gris, Eagles Nest Viognier or The Foundry Grenache Blanc.
Over the years, we have seen the rise in popularity of craft beers led by a new generation of consumer in search of more authenticity, a return to a set of earnest values. This is why, as Adam Mason says, “Farming is cool – live the dream of raising your own animals, grinding your own wheat, making your own honey, membrillo and cheese and pair it with your own wine, beer, Kombucha, while sitting at the table you made from the old oak tree that fell down on your barn.” Smaller producers are better represented and embraced by a new generation of consumers in search of new experiences.
Wine by the glass
Strong focus on drinking less, but better – great way to satisfy curious drinkers’ thirsts! Thanks to innovation systems like ‘Coravin’, fine bottles of wine are kept fresh even after being opened.