“Pinotage is emblematic of our country and the region of Stellenbosch. As a variety it is also just at the beginning of its own journey.” That’s how South African wine academic Jonathan Steyn describes just how important Pinotage is not just to Stellenbosch but to the country as a whole. A grape variety that has long been misunderstood outside of South Africa, but is now gaining the respect it arguably deserves. Richard Siddle talks to some of the most influential Pinotage producers to find out just where they want to take Pinotage next.
However much Stellenbosch wants to look forward, its future also lies in its past and the traditions and knowhow that enable so many of the innovations taking place in the region to happen. None more so than in the role of old vines in helping winemakers rediscover, and bring back to life varieties and plots of land that have gone unloved for many years. In the latest article from The Buyer’s Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle assesses just what impact old vines are having on modern winemaking in Stellenbosch.
Although it is only 10 years old the Austrian Single Vineyard Summit, held earlier this month in Grafenegg, has established itself as an epicentre for all that is good in Austrian Wine. The ÖTW, which runs the event, has designs on becoming a national body as it continues to expand with new regions signing up. Its painstaking, new classification system now covers 95 1er Cru sites with Grand Cru to come and, with Austria’s wine exports on a roll, there is still room for further expansion as Austria establishes itself with a younger generation of international wine lovers. David Kermode was one of 40 international journalists taking part in the event and reports from Grafenegg.
The sense of spirit and togetherness is there to be seen right across the winemaking community in Stellenbosch, and none more so than with the members of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective – 35 producers who are all working individually and together to put Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon on the world map. For the latest article from his in-depth Stellenbosch Business Report, Richard Siddle, talks to leading members of the group about how Cabernet is evolving in the region and the drive to make even more quality wines.
If the wine industry had a collective Achilles heel it would be that category, market and consumer insights are not used to their full potential. But this is an area that Kingsland Drinks has looked to make one of its key points of difference – data and its insights team are at the heart of the company and it has invested in resource and increased its focus in this area to give the business a competitive edge. Here, Richard Siddle talks to Charles Overin, head of marketing, brand and insight and Jo Taylorson, head of marketing and product management, about the advantages this approach gives the company.
“An experienced and competent logistics specialist is the beating heart of a wine business, and like a mechanical watch movement, needs to coordinate a lot of interconnected tasks for the efficient operation of the overall business.” That’s how Nick Martin, founder of Wine Owners, describes the role and importance of logistics within any successful wine company. Here he sets out what you need to prioritise in order to run an effective logistics operation.
“We need to be pro-active and be continuously re-inventing ourselves.” Elmarie Rabe, manager of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, perfectly sums up the spirit of innovation and the willingness to test, trial and experiment to make better quality wines that is currently taking place in Stellenbosch, not just by individual winemakers, but as a region as a whole. That is also the message that came across during a session hosted by Richard Siddle of leading Stellenbosch producers looking at what steps different wineries are taking to push the envelope and make wines that are true to the soils and climate where they come from.
“Attica, defined by the commanding presence of Athens, has always been a huge wine market and one with great opportunities for the growers. Attica is not only blessed with ideal climatic conditions, perfect vineyard sites and distinctive soils, but has also significant commercial advantages.” That statement helps set the scene for a special series of articles looking at different aspects of what makes this region of Greece such an important part not only of the country’s winemaking industry, but also its influence on the traditions, culture and history of the country as a whole.
In our special series of articles on Attica Wines we have highlighted the transformation of the age-old winemaking tradition of Attica to a top-of-the league wine producing region which boasts of the most exquisite wines of Greece. Below we discuss the renewal of the vineyards of Attica and we shed some light on the region’s flagship native variety – Savatiano.
Retsina, one of the most well-known wine styles in Greece, with Attica as the centre of its production, is experiencing a complete makeover. PGI Retsina of Attiki produces these iconic wines that have re-invented themselves, with new elegant styles, based on quality grapes and moderate resin flavours. In the third and last of our Attica Special features we look at why Retsina is a style of wine that demands to be better known and why Attica has such an important role in the Attica Renaissance.
Although still somewhat immature as a wine category, German rosé has almost doubled in production over the past decade – up to 12% of all German wine production. Because German Pinot Noir is the third highest planting of the variety worldwide we can expect to see a lot more of German rosé, writes Simon Field MW, especially with so many quality winemakers making both high-end and commercial, populist styles. On a press trip entitled Think Pink! Field was introduced to a plethora of wines that showed many of the issues facing German rosé – most notably name and style – as it strives to forge its own identity in this fascinating category.
The adage that we are stronger together very much applies to the decision to bring the tourism and wine sides of Stellenbosch together under one organisational and promotional body – Visit Stellenbosch. Richard Siddle examines how it potentially provides the perfect platform on which to tell the many stories of Stellenbosch through the prism of its wineries, vineyards and winemakers and the spectacular scenery and tourism experiences they offer.
The wines of Santorini are rapidly becoming recognised as the world class wines they are. The Greek island of Santorini may be small but its reputation is massive on a global scale and rapidly increasing. But why are these wines so unique? What is it about the soil, climate, grape varieties and viticultural techniques that make these wines so distinctive and worth seeking out?
“Happily the indigenous grapes we tasted today, with their breadth of styles and good quality, definitely have a place on UK wine lists. Some will make excellent pairing wines, others a brave alternative and others more of a ‘hand-sell’.” That’s how wine buyer and restaurateur Victoria Sharples, owner of the Swain’s Wine Bar & Store in north London, described a recent masterclass she attended to promote and highlight the diversity and variety of central Greek wines to a panel of sommeliers.
“We want to try and help create a more focused approach about what varieties are best planted where based on a better understanding of the soils, the terroir and the micro climates of what are effectively a multitude of different site expressions.” That is how terroir expert and wine consultant Jonathan Steyn explains the thinking about producing a report purely focused on explaining the influence of Stellenbosch’s terroir. Here Richard Siddle continues his series of reports from Stellenbosch.
In an extensive trip through Germany, predominantly dedicated to Riesling and Pinot Noir, Christina Rasmussen uncovers soils, clones and the people fiercely dedicated to their soils’ expressions of wine (while all the while expanding her own rock collection). In the first of her 3-part series on Germany, Rasmussen explores German Pinot Noir/ Spätburgunder through site, clones and the winemaker’s hand and asks ‘what is the true identity of German Pinot Noir’? This article was first posted in August 2018 and is part of our continuing series to ‘rewind’ to great articles we’ve posted in the past.
Santorini may be a small Greek island but its reputation for producing world class wines is immense. Its unique soil supports some of the oldest vines on the planet and gives the wines of PDO Santorini naturally high acidity and a strong sense of minerality. Ancient and ingenious viticulture mixed with modern winemaking techniques helps winemakers on Santorini produce wines that are fresh, elegant, complex and intense. Sarah McCleery talks with some key advocates of Santorini’s wines and looks at how the island is pushing boundaries and exploring greater potential of its unique and diverse wines.
In the first of our articles taken from the special Stellenbosch Business Report, produced by The Buyer for Stellenbosch Wine Routes, Richard Siddle gives a personal perspective on the main themes, issues and trends that are influencing and having the biggest long term impact on the region. He also examines the role of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes in capturing all the changes and innovations taking place in this still hugely influential wine region not just in South Africa but around the world.
The Only a Pavement Away charity does extraordinary work, largely behind the scenes, looking to help the homeless and those in need get back on their feet and where possible offer them the practical and financial support to get themselves back into work. It is also working very closely with the drinks and hospitality sectors to see what they can do to give people a second chance. Here Chris Seale, managing director of Speciality Brands, and Greg Mangham, chief executive of Only A Pavement Away, explain how they are working together to help people find suitable future employment.
If there is one wine region that captures the majesty, the beauty, the innovation and the fast pace of change that is taking place in the quality of winemaking in South Africa then it is Stellenbosch. The country’s oldest and most famous wine region has, by the admission of one of its most senior producers, been given a “big kick up the arse” by what has been happening elsewhere in the Cape in recent years and had to more than respond in kind. To mark just what has been going on in Stellenbosch in recent years The Buyer has teamed up with Stellenbosch Wine Routes to produce this comprehensive Stellenbosch Business Report that is available in a downloadable PDF. A report based on personal interviews, tastings, seminars and masterclasses conducted by The Buyer’s Richard Siddle during a recent visit to the region.