Feb 4, 2021
The first time I had a South African wine I didn’t know what to expect. I remember it clearly, it was a Sauvignon Blanc from the Stellenbosch region. I liked it so much I went and ordered a case. That was years ago and frankly, I don’t think I’ve tasted many since. I am very eager to learn more about this wine-producing country.
I got invited to a South African Wine Zoom on Saturday from Red Wolf Imports and set out to find some South African Wines to taste during the seminar. Just so happens that I received a wine club shipment from Somm Select Tuesday and there was a bottle of David & Nadia Wines “Aristargos White Blend 2015 from Swartland, South Africa. That bottle went right into the fridge. Off I went to the liquor store. I was shocked at the small shelf space for wines from South Africa. I’m talking choice of 6 bottles. No Sauvignon Blanc, No Chenin Blanc, No Pinotage, and none of the producers that Alyssa suggested I purchase. I did come home with a bottle of Wolftrap and Indaba Mosaic Red Blend.
While we are here in our bubble, we really don’t have any idea of what is going on in other countries. In South Africa they have had a very challenging time. The government has shut down wine sales in the country three times. The first time they banned exports and domestic alcohol sales for 6 weeks in the spring when the pandemic began. Then a month after they allowed the sales, they shut down domestic sales again. After the holidays, again, they shut down domestic sales with the date expiring February 2. Now the only potential for revenue for wineries is through exports to the international markets.
The landscape is very different in South Africa. You don’t see the huge estates like you do in Napa or France. Many are small wineries and family-owned farms. It’s these small family-owned farms that the wineries source their fruit.
Businesses care about their people. To give you an idea Dave & Nadia Wines employ a permanent staff that are four local homeless people. Their philosophy is “to try to employ people instead, to give hope to them.” At Indaba, every case purchase $.50 is donated to the Indaba Foundation, which was founded by their parent company Cape Classics. The foundation brings skilled and resourced educators to communities to help children during their informative years to develop and learn.
The price points for South Africa wines are anywhere from $6.98 to $30+. The wines I purchased covered the scope of the price range.
David & Nadia Wines “Aristargos” White Blend, Swartland, South Africa 2015 SRP $35 This was a wine club purchase. They say drink now until 2025. I think now is a good time. It is a great winter white. A nice full-bodied wine that is a blend of 35% Chenin Blanc, 23% Roussanne, 15% Clairette, 19% Viognier and 8% Semillon. The Chenin Blanc vines are 35 - 50 years old and the Semillon vines are 61years old. You can taste the maturity in the wine. Beautifully balanced with stone fruit, apple and a citrus zing on the finish.
Boekenhoutskloof “The Wolftrap” Red Blend 2018 SRP $6.98 - Established in 1776, Boekenhoutsklof is located in the furthest corner of the Franschhoek valley. Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree and the farm's name means “ravine of the Boekenhout.” They pride themselves on being Syrah specialists. The Wolftrap is a Rhone-style blend inspired by the pioneering spirit of the early settlers. A blend of 85% Syrah, 14% Mourvedre and 1% Viognier you will find lots of dark fruit, black spice and smoky oak with a medium body on the palate.
Indaba Mosaic Red Blend 2017 SRP $7.99 - A blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This wine was very jammy with notes of raspberry, cherry, blackcurrant, soft tannins and hints of black spice.