Not all wines are made to be aged, in fact many are meant to be enjoyed within the first couple of years of their vintage. That being said, many wines benefit from some time in the bottle. Generally as a rule of thumb, the more tannic a wine, the better it will age: think cabernet sauvignon or Bordeaux style blends. On the white frontier, wooded chenins and chardonnays can go the extra mile—and sauvignon blanc often develops beautifully in the bottle—as long as it didn’t start out as plonk. Wines as they age lose their fruit-forwardness and start to develop more savoury, tertiary characters. As the wine drinking public matures, so does their taste in wine and hence the older wines they will start seeking out. While the market is still small, there are a number of older wines available to the public via retailers such as Wine Cellar, which also offers specialised cellars for long or short-term wine storage should you want to bank your own.
WIN! A once in a lifetime prize from Wine Cellar: Vergelegen Estate, vintage circa 2000, valued at R1500! Terms and conditions apply To enter, simply complete the entry form below. Competition ends 31 January 2018.
Light red obsession
The appetite for fruit-driven, lighter-style reds shows no sign of waning… Also known as ‘fridge reds’, you can pop them in fridge to chill down when the ambient temperature is high. These wines can come in the form of blends or as single varietals: cinsault, grenache, syrah and carignan are the varieties to look for on the shelves. These wines are generally full of red fruit, often have a floral perfume, and the very good ones tend towards the more mineral and savoury spectrum.
Try: Savage ‘Thief In The Night’ 2017
Wine drinkers are showing more and more interest in exploring lesser-known varietals. There are a number of unusual plantings in South Africa, many of them Italian, such as the Nero d’Avola from Bosman Family Vineyards, to one of my all-time favourites the Nebbiolo from Steenberg Vineyards. On the heels of this enter, Vermentino, a Sardinian white wine varietal, planted by Ayama in the Voor-Paardeberg. Vermentino is a light-skinned white wine grape that makes for a medium to full-bodied wine with a minerality that borders on salinity.
Try: Ayama Vermentino 2017
To be franc
Say hello to big papa! The category of Cabernet Franc, parent to Cabernet Sauvignon along with Sauvignon Blanc, is growing exponentially. Traditionally a blending variety in South Africa, the single-varietal category is growing. And for good reason; winemakers are making cabernet francs with increasing aplomb. Bottlings of cab franc has grown from only 17 in 2005 to over 150 today. One of the varietals champions Bruwer Raats describes the wine’s appeal to Winemag: “Cabernet Franc has the ability to give you three distinct sets of aromas on the nose: fruit, spice and herbaceousness. On the palate, it has a linear structure with silky, soft tannins at the end. It maintains its minerality and freshness. Where Cabernet Sauvignon is a broad-sword, Cabernet Franc is a scalpel that delivers its flavours with great precision.”
Try: Bruwer Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2015
Elgin, Walker Bay, the Hemel-en-Aarde, and Elim can all be classified as ‘cool-climate’ wine growing regions, compared to areas such as Stellenbosch and the Swartland. The cooler the climate, the longer the growing period. In these regions winemakers harvest in autumn, and this period of growth means the grape cluster stays connected to its roots for longer, giving better-balanced wines, an accumulation of more aroma and flavour constituents, and the retention of higher acidity. Combined with the terroir, the resultant wines display delicacy, power, insistence and a sense of place.
Try: Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay 2017
No animals were harmed
Vegan wine will be another key trend in 2019, thanks in part to the increasing popularity of vegan food and restaurants. Animal by-products derived from milk, eggs, fish as well as gelatine are often used in a part of the winemaking process to fine and clarify the wine before bottling. Wines that are fined with bentonite (a type of clay) are vegan-friendly as are wines that are unfined and unfiltered (unless they’re biodynamic wines, as animal bones are used in compost mixtures of the vineyards).
Try: Springfield Life from Stone 2018
Written by Malu Lambert, wine writer