Credit : Wines of South Africa
Starting Speed Dating Tasting with wineries and trade by Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa (PIWOSA) on 19th, and followed by Wines of South Africa (WOSA) Trade Tasting as well as consumer tasting next day. In addition Happy hour with wine makers of PIWOSA event is conducted tomorrow , 22nd, which seems like South African Week in Hong Kong. PIWOSA had kicked off Asia promotion tour off from Singapore first, then they are now in Hong Kong, on the beginning of next week in Japan. Yes, it is really Asia tour, isn’t it?
Briefly PIWOSA is body of premium independent Wineries at South African’s Western Cape. In Hong Kong event on 19th, 9 out of 10 producers had come and introduced their products. Well, What is your image of South African wines? Honestly I had imaged previously majorities are casual and cheap / reasonable priced commercial wines, its style is either bold and full bodied or quite flabby and unsophisticated….Of course, I admitted presence of artisanal and premium wine producers, however in Hong Kong market it was quite difficult to find such kind of wines.
Recently I had South African wine tasting dinner among friends, though its occasion I found quality of South African wines tremendously had improved plus really good time to start promotion especially for premium range rather than commodity level. This time I could not taste all producers’ portfolio unfortunately, but all what I tasted has something similar characters like wine from cool climate area or regions, in other words these South African wines seems to be influenced by cool climate.
However it is Mediterranean climate in Western Cape, definitely not cool climate, so grapes are really ripen well. It sometimes tends to overripe, so that wines also tends to be bold and jammy as unbalanced in terms of alcohol level and fruits for reds. For whites, by racking of acidity, quite flabby wines existed before, but nowadays acidification are often applied in order to keep good balance. All white and red wines I tasted of PIWOSA are really well balanced and retain medium – high level of acidity without acidification. If you taste in blind, you might tell Burgundy wines. Why??
There are many microclimate in Western Cape, usually it is cooler at Elgin, Walker bay and Coastal region because of cool breeze from ocean, which benefit grape to keep great acidity. On the other hand, slightly inner area from coast – Stellenbosch is very hot and high chance to be in drought, in this case irrigation is applied. Those producers of PIWOSA focus to grow grapes high in quality and design to make wines more like old world style. For examples, one of the producers mentioned to pick grapes immediately once phenolic ripeness reaches desired level due to avoid lose acidity and fines, other said to do triage for 5 times in 2015 to obtain very ripen grapes to make perfect dry wine.
Let’s talk about oak treatment. Quite a lot of regions in New world use especially new oak high in percentage, so that wines tend to be more volume and bold rather than restrained like Old world style. You notice it especially for premium range wines.However on the whole PIWOSA wines were not overwhelmed by oak and elegant. Although South African wines are under New world category, restrained oak treatment is also be applied especially for Premium ranges.
In my opinion, the position of South African wine in style is somehow middle like between Old world and New world. As marketing view point, although their wines are excellent quality, it is still required to take time to recognise as premium wine region, so that current price of South African wine are money worth and very attractive. I do not doubt that this rising star will run up to its position soon.