As is often the case with these sorts of things, there is a measure of welcome reinvention. Bellbottoms come back into style - okay, not all of these developments are welcome - but we do tend to cycle through things. Take South Africa for example, one of the world's historic wine growing regions, and certainly one with the finest pedigree; when was the last time you tried South African wine?
Don't feel bad if it's been a long time, that is hardly unusual, and during our recent Snooth PVA Wine Writer's Seminar series we took some measure to help to reintroduce the fine, exciting and dynamic wines of this historic region to a select group of some of our most eloquent wine influences. These are their stories, a fresh look at the renaissance of South African wines.
Although I’m glad I never tried the giraffe, until my lunch with Wines of South Africa, I had no idea what I was missing by not trying the ostrich. Our entree, just one of several delicious courses prepared by the students of ICE, was Smoked Ostrich with roasted root vegetables, gorgonzola mousse, herb port reduction, homemade sultana/apricot chutney and an oven baked spicy potato chip. And, it was outstanding; especially, with the 2010 Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block (a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Viognier).
Benito's Wine Reviews
I've long been fascinated by the history of South Africa (sparked in no small part by the adventure novels of Wilbur Smith), and while I have tried many wines from the country, this was my first experience getting to enjoy them with the appropriate cuisine and with folks devoted to this particular wine region.
I have written about South African wines a number of times on this blog after a wonderful introduction to these wines in 2010 at the Society of Wine Educators conference.
I also had the great fortune to work on a project for Stellekaya and to befriend the wonderful Ntsiki Biyela, their wine maker. All this to say that South African wines have a special place in my heart although I still have not visited that beautiful country. I can’t write about South African wines without mentioning my admiration for Nelson Mandela, one of my heroes.
My Vine Spot
South Africa has a long wine growing history dating back over three centuries. However, at a time when other new world wine regions were advancing, South Africa’s wine industry was set back by apartheid (1948-1994). In response, trade sanctions were imposed, preventing South African wines from being imported into the U.S. and other markets. Since that time, South African wine has experienced a renaissance of sorts and is growing in popularity. "Chenin Blanc is no longer called Steen and varietals such as Syrah are taking their rightful place among the world’s finest," said the folks at Snooth. Adding that, “ Pinotage ... the black sheep of the vitis vinifera family, is finding new appreciation as producers begin to understand how to coax the most from each variety in South Africa’s famously complex soils.”