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L'Re Burger rediscovers the potential of South African wines at LIWF

Published:  27 June, 2013

South African producers at this year's London International Wine Fair were able to present wines that really showed off the potential of the South African terroir and the extraordinary wines being produced from these sites - including its rising star, Chenin blanc.


This is what Johan Joubert, Cellar master at Kleine Zalze, is aiming for with the release of its new Kleine Zalze Chenin Blanc Family Reserve 2012. The Family Reserve is rich and complex wine with lots of fruit, a smooth finish and great ageing potential.


The inspiration behind this new release started for Joubert with the importance of protecting old bush vines on different soil types with loads of character expression. "We need to bring out the different identities of Chenin Blanc, but producers need to create the identities" said Joubert.


Joubert predicted an important future for varieties like Chenin Blanc for South Africa over the next decade in South Africa. "We need to find a high quality style, with originality for South Africa".


Tasting through the Kleine Zalze range of Chenin Blancs you can see how this has been a labour of love for Joubert who has created each wine with a unique sense of style and quality. "The UK is still hungry for interesting wines" said Johan who believe the UK is still an important market for South Africa. "But it's important to meet the face behind the wines. This is why we attend the LIWF."


Driven by detail, Adrian Vanderspuy, proprietor of Oldenburg Vineyards, has heavily invested into identifying the terroir of different sites on the estate located in the Banhoek Valley, Stellenbosch. "South Africa is starting to understand its terroir and getting to grip with what works where," explained Rob McKinlay, export director for Oldenburg.


"Fine making styles is important for quality," said McKinlay while explaining its approach to producing the Oldenburg range. Part of therange is the Chenin Blanc, an elegant wine that exudes peach, citrus blossom, spicy vanilla with a hint of oak.


"South Africa need flagships - flying the flag," explained McKinlay when describing Oldenburg's signature blend, the Rodium 2010. This Merlot driven Bordeaux blend is bursting with spices, violets, ripe fruit and well integrated tannins. "Rodium is an element in diamonds and 98% of the element is found in South Africa," explained McKinlay. At Oldenburg they believe in striving to achieve balance between the terroir on the estate, their heritage and well-crafted wines.


Another estate that believes in their heritage is Nederburg, who has recently launched The Heritage Hereos range. This selection of individually named, gourmet wines was created to honour some of the major figures in South African winemaking and who helped build the heritage of the industry.


The Chenin Blanc 2012 (The Anchorman) was a personal highlight while tasting through this range. The grapes, from dry-land bush vines, benefit from partial carbonic maceration and then carefully matured in Foudres. This all accumulates in a unique and elegant wine filled with apricots, almonds, well-balanced oak and an oily finish.


Wim Truter, white winemaker at Nederburg, explained: "Currently Chenin Blanc has no definite style as it lends itself to various identities. This can be difficult for the consumer and can cause some confusion." But he believes in the potential of Chenin Blanc and producers to push and mould the South African style.


The other highlight in the range was the Rhone blend 2010 (The Motorcycle Marvel).This full-bodied blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Carignan shows an abundance of blackpepper, cherries and cloves with a distinct finish. This is definitely a wine with plenty of maturation potential.


The Heritage Heroes range also includes a Sauvignon Blanc (The Young Airhawk) and a Bordeaux blend (The Brewmaster).


Truter firmly believes in the potential of South Africa and what it is achieving. "It is important to show the rest of the world and consumers what South Africa can really do, that's why it's important to attend wine shows like LIWF."


Tasting through all these amazing wines and listening to the positivity and exuberance of the producers it is clear that the South African wine industry is a rising and shining star. This is evident as more producers start to embrace their South African heritage and terroir while creating exceptional wines which hold their own against the world's best.


Kleine Zalze wines are available through Hatch Mansfield. Oldenburg wines are available through Connoisseur Estates Ltd or Berry Bros & Rudd Limited. Nederburg wines are available through Matthew Clark in the on-trade, Morrisons, Waitrose and Tesco in the off-trade.


* L'Re Burger is a MSC student in wine at the Burgundy Business School