Behind the vines in South Africa…

We’ve just returned from a week in South Africa and one thing is certain, the wines they’re making are incredibly exciting. We’ve visited every year since 2016 and the leaps forward in quality in that short time have been staggering. Our best selling wine last year was Gentle Giant by Haut Espoir which is the best bottle of wine you’ll ever buy at under £15 but what’s also really exciting is the fine wine market. South Africa is still yet to establish itself with a winery that produces icon wines such as Chateau Montelena in the USA, Penfolds in Australia or Seña in Chile. These wines all made their name for their quality but then rocketed in value due to their cult status meaning you end up paying for the name on the label rather than what’s in the bottle.

What this mean’s is that whether you choose the Magia by MoresonO.T.V by Uva MiraHolden Manz’s Reserve Cabernet Franc or the beautifully aged 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon by Haut Espoir you’re paying for the juice you intend to drink and not the value added by a certain critic’s exuberances.

Our first day was a visit to the aforementioned Haut Espoir where we enjoyed a tour of the farm followed by a comprehensive tasting of some older vintages, which really showed the potential these wines have to age, as well as the new vintages which we’ll be seeing later this year and barrel samples which we’ll see some time in the ’20s.

Day two involved a ‘quick’ visit to Holden Manz which became a 7 hour marathon tasting of their full range and underlined what I’ve noticed recently which is a definite move towards the preservation of purity of fruit in the wines and away from the earthy characteristics that formerly dominated the reds. This was especially clear here to the extent where a famed (French) Wine Consultant described their Reserve Merlot as Pomerol in everything but origin as recently as the week prior to our visit.

On our third day we visited the two newest additions to our portfolio, Uva Miraand Natte Valleij, in Stellenbosch. Uva Mira are located 620 metres above sea level and produce tiny amounts of beguiling wines which, in my opinion, are some of the finest expressions of varietal and terroir outside of France. Natte Valleij, a family farm run by Alex Milner, are an incredibly innovative farm working with old vine single vineyard plots of Cinsault made using minimal intervention methods and we had the pleasure of trying the new vintages from barrel (or concrete egg) including a brand new one off wine sourced from a vineyard planted in the 1950s… watch this space.

Our final day was spent at Moreson Wine Farm in Franschhoek whose winemaker, Clayton Reabow, boasts the honour of having just been named Winemaker of the Year for 2019. Tasting the 2017 vintage of his Mercator Chardonnay (our best selling Chardonnay) is testament to why but I was also particularly taken with the new vintage of The Huntress Pinot Noir, a juicy little number which will certainly be a Burgundy botherer when it arrives on our next shipment from them in the coming months.