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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By Jamie Goode | 29 February 2016

If there's ever a grape variety that has experienced a change in fortunes, it's Cinsualt. Also known as Cinsaut, it has been in decline in South Africa for almost 30 years. But it is one of the country's most important red varieties from a historical perspective. Back in the 1920s, it was claimed by Itzak Perold (the first professor of viticulture at Stellenbosch University) that Cinsault made three-quarters of the country's red wines. In the 1970s it began to make way for more famous varieties such as Cabernet and Merlot, but it was still the most widely planted red grape variety. It was only overtaken by Cabernet for this title in the early 1990s.

Until fairly recently, things were looking pretty bleak for Cinsault. There are still 1900 hectares of it planted, though, and this is a good thing, because in a very short space of time it has become super-trendy. With its large berries and resistance to heat, Cinsault can make very attractive lighter-coloured red wines at moderate alcohol levels, and also works very well in blends. Because it yields generously, these wines need not be expensive. There is a reason it was so popular in the Cape: because it is well suited to the climate and soils, and it makes economic sense. While the fashion was for bigger, darker red wines, it was out of favour, but now lighter-style red wines are back in fashion, and it is time for Cinsault to shine.

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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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From Jamie Goode

Jamie Goode

On a recent trip to South Africa, I was treated to a remarkable, one-off tasting. It was of Mèthode Cap Classique (MCC), which is the South African name for bottle-fermented sparkling wines. Canadian wine journalist Treve Ring, who I was travelling with, has a keen interest in sparkling wine, as do I, and so we were thrilled when WOSA managed to get word out that we wanted to do a serious, in-depth deep-dive into MCC, to see how things are going with sparkling wines here.

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In Susan's glass

I fell in love with South Africa and the wines a few years ago. The recent MasterChef UK final took me right back to a holiday I had there. They went to the same Game Reserve that we stayed at and we also went to Reuben Riffel's restaurant in Franschhoek the night before my friends wedding - it was great to see Reuben as a guest judge too! Watching that episode seemed like the perfect excuse to open this beautiful bottle of Semillon from Boekenhoutskloof. What a delicious wine! 

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