With great wine, comes great responsibility. Which is why when sourcing new wines for the Most Wanted Wines range, we don’t do things by half. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and fly to South Africa… It’s a hard life, isn’t it?
Whether we’re talking boutique wineries or up-and-coming producers, wine regions don’t get as exciting as the Western Cape of South Africa.
The Cape Wine Trade Fair is the flagship business showcase of the South African wine industry. We were thrilled about checking out this energetic, maverick wine country, home of new, exciting producers.
It’s only natural then that we sent our brightest minds down to Cape Town in mid-September to bring home some of this incredible wine buzz. And what a dream team it was: Managing Director Paul, Sales Manager Mark and Sourcing Director Clem, flew to the fair to meet with suppliers and get stuck into all the new wines on offer.
The wine industry in South Africa stretches back into the 17th century, making it the oldest ‘New World’ wine producer. But especially today there’s a real energy and excitement in some of its up-and-coming regions. Take for example the Swartland region in the Western Cape, which produces boutique and varied wines with incredible quality from producers you just don’t see in the UK.
Throughout the trade fair, the quality from the entry-level wines right through to the top, small volume boutique producers was excellent. But for our team of hardy researchers, there could only be one winner, and after some serious thought and deliberation it was agreed that the star of the show was a wine synonymous with South Africa, Chenin Blanc.
Chenin Blanc, also known locally as Steen, is the most widely planted grape variety in South Africa, accounting for nearly one-fifth of all vineyards, nearly twice the amount of Chenin Blanc planted in France!
Historically, the Chenin Blanc grape had a tendency to produce some “iffy” quality wines at the lower end of the spectrum, but that’s now safely in the past. The versatility of the grape and real focus on the quality it can produce is now being realised, with some fantastic wines from simple, fresh Chenins right through to show-stopping barrel-fermented oak aged wines.
Cape Town is an amazing and vibrant city to visit. There are great restaurants, beautiful landscapes, and most importantly incredible wine at a very reasonable price, especially with the current exchange rate!