The latest in wine news and events

The South African wine industry is known for its dynamic and innovative approach as well as its top notch wines and young, creative winemakers.

The industry is progressing and changing at speed, as South Africa is increasingly recognised for premium wines and world-class wine tourism. Read all the latest news from Wines of South Africa...

Read Jamie's latest feature on South African wine

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Exciting producers emerging in the post-Swartland era

By Jamie Goode | 3 December 2015

So, the last Swartland Revolution has been held. Since 2010 there have been six of these amazing events, held in November in Riebeek Kasteel, celebrating the remarkable revolution in winemaking that has taken place in the Swartland. It was only just over a decade ago that the Swartland wasn’t very highly regarded as a wine region. But along came Eben Sadie, and then Mullineux, and then Badenhorst Family Wines, and a whole group of dynamic, risk-taking, exciting new wineries emerged. The quality of the wines made everyone sit up and notice, and the Revolution, as a sort of focal point for all this attention, has really helped shake up the South African wine scene. Wisely, though, the organizers have decided that this event – brilliant as it has been – has now run its course, and it’s time to stop at the top, rather than see it decline or grow stale.

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BEE and wine

By Jamie Goode | 4 November 2015

Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is an official government strategy that applies to all businesses in South Africa. It’s not just an attempt to redress the wrongs of the past, but instead sets out to be a strategy for encouraging economic growth by widening the economic base. Before the dismantling of apartheid in 1994, African, Coloured and Indian populations had very little participation in the economy, and these groups, known as PDIs in the official jargon (for ‘previously disadvantaged individuals’), are referred to collectively as ‘Black’ in BEE.

21 years on from the switch to democracy, there’s still a massive gap between rich and poor in South Africa, and large segments of the population are still excluded from meaningful participation in the economy. BEE isn’t just about affirmative action; nor is it about land redistribution. It’s a strategy to empower more black people to own and manage businesses and enterprises, to achieve a change in the racial composition of ownership and management structures, to encourage more skilled black workers, to provide finance for black economic empowerment and to benefit black-owned enterprises through preferential procurement policies.

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Old vineyards

By Jamie Goode | 8 September 2015

It was a beautiful early Autumn day when I visited Basil Landau's La Brie farm in the Franschhoek Valley. Basil is an interesting person. He was a prominent businessman and friend of presidents in a previous era in South Africa. In 1986, at the age of 56, he decided on a change of pace, and bought a beautifully situated farm in scenic Franschhoek where he moved with his considerably younger wife, Jane. The farm was originally given to a Hugenot (Jacques de Villiers) in 1689, and was built up from nothing. Basil's home was built in 1787, so it is properly old.

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From Jamie Goode

Jamie Goode

The interesting thing about wine is that you only get one chance a year to make it. So for the average winemaker, retiring at a normal age, you might get to make 40 or so vintages in your lifetime, unless of course you switch hemispheres in your winter and go to work somewhere else.   Wine is an expression of place; it's also an expression of a particular year. For the winegrower who also tends their own vines, there's a special significance to vintage time. From the time the vine buds, to the point where the flowering occurs, to the point where grapes begin developing, to the point of veraison when the skins soften and red grapes chance colour, to the point of deciding when to pick, the winegrower tracks the progress of vintage. That year is then something they try to capture in the wine, as the grapes enter the cellar. It's only after several months that they will really know the personality of the vintage they have just lived through, when the baby wines begin to show what they are about. Along the way, there are many things that can go wrong: frost, disease, pests, microbial disasters in the wine. It's a complicated business, but when it does well, it’s worth all the anxiety and toil.

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In Jo's glass

I was recently in South Africa for Cape Wine and managed to taste several vintages of the delicious Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia. I usually opt for a sweet wine at the end of a meal instead of a pudding and The Vin de Constance is a perfect way to end a meal. It's rich and opulent with stone fruits, vanilla and a hint of spice yet it is also fresh, balanced and has a long, moreish finish. Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, highly rated both the 2011 and 2012 in his most recent report on South Africa which is available to download for £15 on timatkin.com.  

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