• The History of the new Premium Wine

    Within the last 20 years, wine in South Africa has experienced a true renaissance. Winemakers attach more importance to quality than quantity; the past has shown that too many yielded grapes are harmful to the winemakers. South Africa as a wine country has been in existence for much longer. In the middle of the 17th century, the first settlers planted vines on the Cape of Good Hope. After 200 years of constant growth and a boom, the end of the 19th century had severe problems of economic and ecologic nature. Cheap French wine and louse infestation made life difficult for the winemakers. The 20th century was defined by strictly regulated wine cultivation and political issues. The monopoly of the KWV inhibited a healthy development of the winemakers and the Apartheid made for political trouble.

    Dutch Doctor Plants first Vine

    In 1652, the ship’s doctor Jan van Riebeck founded a fort at the foothills of Table Mountain to provide Dutch ships with provisions. Early on, he decided to grow wine. This made sense as wine was considered to be a clean alternative to water for a long time which was especially important for sailors of these former times. The terroir seemed to be suitable for wine growing, so in 1655, Jan van Riebeck planted the first vine in South Africa.

    Simon van der Stel Founds Stellenbosch and Constantia

    Simon van der Stel is considered to be the founding father of South African wine. He founded the winery Stellenbosch in 1679 and another one called Constantia six years later. In the Old World, dessert wine from Constantia was popular as early as the end of the 17th century. Stellenbosch is known for its premium wines; as a matter of fact, most premium wines still originate from this region. Van der Stel’s traces are therefore noticeable even in the new millennium.

    Cheap Competitors, Vine Pest and Spoiled Wine

    As time went by, wine from South Africa developed into a popular product all over Europe. One of the largest markets was Great Britain which imposed an embargo on imports of French wine in the middle of the 19th century. This changed in 1861; the import was not only allowed, but lower customs made French wine significantly cheaper than its South African equivalent. Great Britain was no longer a suitable market.

    Slightly time-delayed, the vine pest affected numerous wine plants in South Africa in 1885. Some years ago it had caused much destruction on the farms in Europe. Vine roots could not take in any nutrients, and whole stretches of land became deserted.

    Despite these problems, South Africa’s winemakers put all their effort into creating wine in high amounts. In 1918, South Africa produced more than half a million hectolitres of wine. Large parts of it were spoiled though and could not be sold. The overproduction damaged price as well as quality of the wines. As a general rule in viticulture, it is said that higher yields and decreasing wine quality go hand in hand. Winemakers literally had to dump the wine into the rivers, thousand of litres of it.

    Cooperative and Trade Sanctions

    As a reaction to the many problems, the Ko-operatiewe Wijnbuwers Vereniging – abbreviated KWV – was founded. It was supposed to control demands and stabilise prices. Yet the monopoly position of the KWV caused new problems. In 1957, it introduced a quota system and restricted the areas that winemakers were allowed to cultivate newly. The cooperative also controlled the import of new grape varieties. This caused a stagnation of the wineries, which not only in the world of wines means a step backwards.

    In the 1980s, many nations penalized the regime in South Africa to protest against the Apartheid. Wine from South Africa could only hardly be sold or not at all.

    With the end of the Apartheid in 1994, the situation for the winemakers improved. Today, renowned wineries pay attention to premium wines to be at the top in the global competition, not only in terms of quantity.

    Article by Capreo.com
  • CORK OR SCREW CAP?

    Generally, vintners from South Africa use two different closures for their wine: cork on the one hand and screw caps on the other. There are always discussions about which closure type is the best, why you should use this or the other. Actually, the answer is rather simple: corks as well as screw caps are fantastic methods to seal a bottle. As so often, the personal taste plays the most important role here.

    Cork, a Tradition

    Not only in South Africa but worldwide, a bottle closed with a natural cork stands for a true premium wine. A good cork seals the bottle and protects the wine against bad influences. For many wine lovers, the great advantage is the material; the natural substance seals tightly yet lets tiny amounts of oxygen come through, too. Due to the slightly higher oxygen contact, the wine can potentially keep on maturing in the bottle which leads to very special aromas; connoisseurs appreciate this effect of cork especially for red wine.

    However, a wine matures further in the bottle without additional oxygen contact, too. As a matter of fact, there is no verified study that can link an especially good taste of a wine to additional oxygen contact. Furthermore, a cork closure also has disadvantages solely because of its material. If a bottle is stored standing, the cork can become brittle and not optimally close the bottle any longer. Penetrating extraneous smells can spoil the bouquet and taste. It can also happen that a cork develops 2,4,6-trichloroanisole, short TCA. This substance makes for what is generally called ‘cork taint’ which is an unpleasant taste in the wine.

    Screw Caps are Affordable, but by no Means just Cheap

    For some traditional gourmets, screw caps symbolize the decline of wine culture and a decreasing quality; although a screw cap unites the security of a cork without having its disadvantages. It keeps the bottle sealed and perfectly protects against damaging influences. As it cannot become brittle, bottles with screw caps can be stored standing; that makes the storage more flexible. Also, this closure does not develop substances that can influence the wine. Nevertheless it is not the case that a screw cap would prevent the maturing of a wine in the bottle. The bottling process always leaves a small rest of oxygen in the bottle; furthermore, chemical analyses have proven that no additional oxygen is necessary for the wine to keep on maturing. Just like with a cork, old red wines with a screw cap had matured into true showpieces after some years. Also, at only a couple of Cent per piece, a screw cap is significantly cheaper than a cork. A good cork, maybe even handmade, easily costs one Euro per piece. This is mirrored in the higher price of such a wine.

    Which closure is better, cork or screw cap, can really not be determined. Purely objective, there is much to be said for screw caps to be the winners. But the feeling, almost like a ceremony of gently removing the cork with a corkscrew, the silent ‘plop’ when opened is reason enough for many gourmets to pay a bit more. The occasion at which a bottle is opened seems to be important, too. For a romantic dinner for two, at which ambience and atmosphere are vital, a gentleman is likely to prefer the bottle with cork. For a big party at which many guests have to be satisfied, screw caps are recommended.

    No matter whether you prefer screw caps or cork, one thing is for sure. In both bottles, there will be South African wines of an equally high quality and you should enjoy this delicacy with all your senses.

    Article by Capreo.com

  • Dornier Wine Estate

    Culture in Every Sip

    Dornier Wine Estate is situated at the foot of Stellenbosch Mountain in the famous wine sub-region, The Golden Triangle. The focus at Dornier lies on the production of premium quality red and white wines that are expressive of the unique terroir of the area. Ancient decomposed granite soils found on cool, south facing slopes lead to the production of elegant wines of complex structure. Dornier’s iconic cellar has a 500-ton production capacity and is complemented by a state-of-the-art wine tasting facility.

  • Diemersdal

    A PASSIONATE HERITAGE

    In 1698 Simon van der Stel granted farmland to free burgher, Hendrik Sneewind. Later, the farm changed hands to Captain Diemer when he married the widow Sneewind, and thus Diemersdal was formally established. An inventory found in an old leather-bound book dating back to 1702 lists 45 wine barrels, a wine press and glass bottles, indicating that wine has been made on the Estate for over three centuries. Six generations of Louws have practiced their art with skill and passion at Diemersdal since the Estate passed into their hands in 1885. More than 12 decades later, Diemersdal is a well-known landmark in the lush Durbanville Valley, one of the Cape’s oldest wine regions.

    OUR HOME FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY

    Situated on the cool slopes of the Dorstberg, with Table Mountain as backdrop, Diemersdal provides the perfect setting for the production of unique, soulful wines. The farm covers 340 hectares of land, with 180 of those under vines. The rest consists of grazing land, as well as a sizeable area of Renosterveld, one of the most threatened vegetation types in the world and an asset we work hard to conserve. The homestead itself is well preserved and the palm trees planted decades ago by Grandfather Matthys Louw have grown as tall as the whitewashed gables, whispering tales of a bygone era.

    THE IMPORTANCE OF TERROIR

    Diemersdal Wines are the perfect expression of the distinct Durbanville terroir; the sum of the complex interaction between topography, soil content and climate. The grapes that go into Diemersdal Wines are grown under optimal conditions, in deep red Hutton soils, featuring decomposed granite and a high clay content. The vineyards, situated on the northern and southern slopes of the Dorstberg, are subject to glorious cooling mists that roll in each afternoon from the Atlantic Ocean. The grapes are grown under dryland conditions, with no irrigation, which allows them to uniformly ripen and develop concentrated flavours. The combination of excellent soil, varying aspect, slopes and the high rainfall of 700mm per year all contribute to the uniqueness of Diemersdal Wines.

    THE CELLAR

    At Diemersdal we blend the old and new worlds of winemaking.
    In pursuit of the award-winning red wines that give expression to the rich diversity of the terroir, we use traditional open fermenters to enhance the natural flavours and soften the tannins in our grapes. We take great care in choosing the barrels for each cultivar. For the white wines, we have a brand new state-of-the art winery where we adopt an approach of minimum intervention to conserve prominent varietal character. To continually produce unique wines, our winemakers pay meticulous attention to detail and spend time experimenting with new techniques, barrels and yeasts.

  • Boplaas

    ABOUT OUR FAMILY

    Although our story dates back to 1880 when the first brandy was crafted at Boplaas by Daniel Nel, for export to London, it is only since 1980 that Boplaas in its current form came into existence. Being a born entrepreneur, Carel Nel’s first business venture was buying old broken antique furniture, getting it restored and re-selling it. After finishing is BSc studies in winemaking, he joined his father on the farm. Always on the lookout for budding opportunities, he soon started a fruit drying, fruit preserve and jam business and over time used the profits to build a cellar on the farm.

    The success of the Boplaas vrugtehappies (dried fruit titbits) and other dried fruits allowed us to follow our true passion of crafting fine wines in the Klein Karoo. The foundation stone of the new cellar was laid on 1981 with the first Boplaas Estate wines released in 1982. Our very first SA Champion Port was crafted in 1986 and was awarded this coveted title at the National Young Wine Show.

    Towards the end of the 80’s we established the first vineyards at Ruiterbosch in the Outeniqua Mountains, the first cool climate site in the Southern Cape. This allowed us to produce Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Méthode Cap Classique (traditional bottle fermented sparkling wine).

  • Beeslaar Wines

    Abrie Beeslaar is the cellarmaster at Kanonkop Estate in Stellenbosch, a position he inherited from his mentor and pinotage specialist Beyers Truter. There he works with Bordeaux varieties as well as pinotage; but for his own label he and his wife Jeanne chose to focus on South Africa’s very own grape variety. 2012 was the first bottling of Beeslaar Pinotage; the 2013 was awarded the coveted five stars in the 2016 Platter’s Guide.

    The wines differ from those made at Kanonkop, displaying perhaps a more modern interpretation of the grape. What is certain is that these wines offer cellaring potential as well as immediacy of fruit, and that this is a new name to watch.

  • Beau Constantia

    Beau Constantia is located at the peak of Constantia Nek and features of the highest vine plantations in the Cape being as high as 350 meters above sea-level. The Beau Constantia’s manicured vines overlook sweeping views of the Helderberg and Stellenbosch mountains and as far as Hangklip over False Bay.

    Beau Constantia was established in 2002 by Pierre and Cecily Du Preez following the ravaging fires that destroyed the natural Fynbos vegetation and pine forests that were before. The slopes were subsequently cleared and terraced so facilitating prime opportunity for establishment of vineyards. Following intensive soil analysis and the assistance of Mr Japie Bronn, the first vines were established in 2003.

    Great patience and skill were required during the development of the vines given the steepness of the slopes. To date Beau Constantia has proudly established 11.47 hectares of vineyards from which their boutique range of wines are produced. Noble grape varieties planted at Beau Contantia include, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Shiraz.

    Beau Constantia Viognier displays great potential on the farm as a grape variety following the maiden vintage of it’s release in 2010. The 2010 Beau Constantia Cecily Viognier received a 92 point rating from Mr Neal Martin, Wine Advocate reviewer of South African wines for Robert Parker, and was hailed as the best Viognier at the 2011 Novare Terroir Wine Awards.

    More recently, Beau Constantia introduced a second range of wines which includes a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Viognier and a red blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot both known as Pas De Nom.

    In addition resident winemaker at Beau Constantia, Justin van Wyk, recently released two premium Bordeaux style red blends. The first of the two, named Beau Constantia Lucca, is a classic, elegant blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The second blend is named after Lucca’s brother, under the label Beau Constantia Aidan, and is more opulent and contemporary in style being a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Beau Constantia is a newcomer to the Constantia Valley Wine Route. The wines of Beau Constantia have only recently been added to the portfolio of Vin Africa for which exclusive import rights to Europe have been granted to us. We will endeavor to have all the latest vintages available for you, but we ask for your kind understanding should this not always be the case. Should you be traveling to Cape Town, be sure not to miss out on the opportunity of visiting Beau Constantia to taste their wines whilst admiring the breathtaking views from the Beau Constantia tasting room.

  • Ntsiki Biyela-Winemaker

    Aslina is a wine company owned by Ntsiki Biyela who is the first black woman winemaker in South Africa. Aslina is the name of her late grandmother who was and is her inspiration. Ntsiki Biyela grew up under her grandmother’s guidance and care.

    After 13 years of being a winemaker and ambassador of Stellekaya wines, Ntsiki Biyela continued her journey of inspiration by starting her own brand. This followed the collaboration she has been doing with a Californian winemaker which was a brain child of Mika Bulmash from wine for the world. Ntsiki has consulted in France, making wine under Wine makers Collection in Bordeaux.
    She grew up in Mahlabathini, a rural village in Kwazulu Natal, and matriculated from high school in 1996. Having spent a year as a domestic worker, she was awarded a scholarship to study winemaking in 1999. She graduated in 2003 with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) at Stellenbosch University and joined Stellekaya the following year. Ntsiki was crowned Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2009 and has been the finalist for two consecutive years for The Most Influential Women in Business and Government.

    She has received extensive media coverage throughout the world, including features on CNN, the front page of the New York Times, CNBC, SABC (multiple shows), Good Morning America, Classic FM, SAFM, Ukhozi FM and more.
    Ntsiki is involved in the judging of competitions in the wine industry – for example, SAA wine selection, Diners Club Winemaker of the Year competition, IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) and the Nederberg Auction, to name but a few.

    Finally, she sits on the board of directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which provides technical training and personal development for young South Africans in the Cape Winelands, preparing them for work in the wine industry. The programme offers them the unique opportunity to emulate her own considerable success

  • Awards and Platters acknowledgement 2019

     Wine producer Andre Rousseau achieved excellent results for Platters 2019, the only acknowledged wine guide in South Africa
    Bourdeaux Red Babette 2016 received 4.5 stars-91%
    Sauvignon Blanc Grace 2018 received 4 stars-85%
    Sauvignon Blanc Grace 2019 received 4 stars-87%
    Wooded Sauvignon Blanc Sacharia 2018 received 4 stars-86%

     

  • The wine regions of South Africa-Terroir

    The wine regions of South Africa were defined under the “Wine of Origin” (Wyn van Oorsprong) act of 1973. Mirroring the French Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system, all South African wines listing a “Wine of Origin” must be composed entirely of grapes from its region.[1] The “Wine of Origins” (WO) program mandates how wine regions of South Africa are defined and can appear on wine labels. While some aspects of the WO are taken from the AOC, the WO is primarily concerned with accuracy in labeling. As a result, the WO does not place adjunct regulations on wine regions such as delineating permitted varieties, trellising methods, irrigation techniques, and crop yields.

    The WO system divides growing regions into four categories. The largest and most generic are Geographical Units (such as the Western Cape region) which subsume the smaller, but still broad spanning Regions (such as Cape South Coast). Under these are clustered districts (like Walker Bay) and within them are wards (such as Elgin). Although these are geographic units, regions and districts are largely traced by political boundaries (wards are the segment most defined by unique, Terroir characteristics)