What's happening in South Africa...
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When I think about South African wine, I reminisce over my time at last years, Imbibe, Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA).

This is an on-trade event (for hospitality), rounding up, Masters of Wine, Wine Directors, Sommeliers and industry professionals into one space.
The concept is simple and fantastic, to find the ultimate wine list from the wines submitted to the competition. All wines are judged blind, bottles wrapped up in plastic bags; stickers with elaborate codes- prices are all we get to see.
Wines are split into stylistic categories- Pinot Noir from New Zealand for example, or North Western Italian reds. It’s our (tough) job to sift through everything & put some through for medals or commendations, and for the unfortunate ones; elimination.

It truly was an honor to be a part of. In the name of discovery I stumbled across some countries that are really making some noise through the quality of their wines.

So, South Africa; these guys are getting it right!

During my second day of tasting I was treated to no less than ten excellent Sauvignon Blanc’s from various South African regions.

The day before was no different, luckily I was able to judge and tuck into a flight of Chardonnay oozing with winemaker personality, from dry, clean-cut styles, to big oaky butter bombs and everything in between!

Lots of nods of appreciation around a fairly silent tasting table. All that broke the silence was the appropriate drink reflex sound one makes after tasting something delicious- or the obligatory supping of air as one mouthwashes the wine, coating the palate.

To me what was so impressive, was that there is no specific style coming out of each flight. Sauvignon Blanc showed versatility & dare I say it- minerality (whatever that means: just going with the consensus of the table).
Chardonnay dominant blends with not so familiar blending protagonists; maybe Viognier, Marsanne or even Riesling… joyous!

I can think of one or two wine regions around that really latch onto a specific style and recipe and seem to imprint this culture it in most of the winemakers in the vicinity. To an extent this is understandable, there are certain market demands, and the wine industry has to meet them. A sense of place is also super important.
However, the South African’s seem open to doing some things a little different, even radical. Oenologists are giving themselves the freedom to create whatever suits them best- exceptional expressions of terroir on show.

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Corner of Winery Road and R44, Ken Forrester , Between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, 7600, South Africa