“There’s nowhere in the world like it.” Which is reason enough for Ben Henshaw to keep going back to South Africa to find more dynamic, cutting edge winemakers to add to its already impressive portfolio of South African wines, a country he believes is leading the world in terms of innovation and new wines styles. You can meet all of Indigo Wine’s South African winemaker partners, alongside those from the four other importers involved in hosting what will be the third New Wave wine tasting in London on September 3.
If you are just back from your summer holidays and want to know what is going on in the tasting world next week then no look further than the New Wave South Africa tasting on September 3. Here’s why.
Great minds think alike. At least they do when it comes to sourcing cutting edge wines from South Africa. For it is not just Indigo Wines that has woken up to what is going on there, but the other specialist importers involved in hosting the third New Wave South African wine tasting in London on September 3. They are in no particular order: Swig; Dreyfus Ashby; Wine; New Generation Wines; and Fields Morris & Verdin. But here’s why Ben Henshaw at Indigo Wines are involved.
This is the third New Wave tasting. Why are you doing it again?
There’s lots of good wine out there. What gives South Africa an edge is the network of trailblazing winemakers with compelling stories to tell. From events like the Swartland Revolution and Heritage Festival, there’s a spirit of sharing knowledge, experience and of course wines. New Wave is about bringing some of that energy to London, so the trade and public over here can taste the wines, meet the winemakers and hear their stories.
We’re excited about the present and future for South African wine and couldn’t imagine not being involved!
What can we expect different from this year’s event overall?
More winemakers – we have six new projects represented at the tasting.
Can you talk us through your own South African portfolio and how that has grown? What highlights and producers will you have at the tasting?
We’ll have all our South African producers at the tasting – veteran New Wavers Johan Meyer and Donovan Rall whose wines just go from strength to strength. And new to our list: André Bruyns, assistant winemaker to David and Nadia Sadie, pouring his personal project City on a Hill; Alexander Milner from Natte Vallej who is exploring the potential in Cinsault; Wade Metzer with his ocean influenced Chenins from old vines in Stellenbosch; Wade Sander (who has worked with Mullineux) with his cool climate Brunia Pinot Noir; Natasha Williams (winemaker at Bosman) with new project Lelie van Saron and Kiara Scott new winemaker working with Duncan Savage at Brookdale, old-vine Chenin Blanc from the historic Nederburg Estate.
How do you see the overall South African wine scene?
There’s nowhere in the world like it. The combination of young winemakers with some great experience gained not just locally but around the world, bringing it back and doing their own thing. The variety of styles and work with different varietals is producing some phenomenal wines. Wines retailing at £20-30 are a sweet spot, you won’t find the same quality at that price from the US or Australia.
Winemakers such as Johan Meyer and Wade Sander (Brunia) and leading a move south and southeast to cooler sites – this can be risky as sometimes they don’t get full ripeness, but it broadens the choice of grapes and styles of wine being made. South African Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a gaining recognition and rightly so.
Recent water shortages are a worry. The older vines can cope, albeit with lower yields, but farmers might be asking themselves is it worth planting new vineyards and growing grapes when other crops are more reliable? Also with more competition everyone will need to work harder to get their story heard.
How is business in general/ across all your portfolios?
There are some headwinds this year, on trade business is growing a little and wholesale is challenging. We continue to invest in broadening and diversifying our range, with new growers but also our own label partnerships with winemakers which offer our customers a unique, tailored product. Our constantly evolving list is aimed at keeping our customers as excited about wine as we are.
- You can keep up to date with the latest news about the New Wave event on Twitter at @NewWaveSA2019 and Instagram on newwavesouthafrica and at #newwaveSA.
- The Buyer will be featuring the other importers taking part and some of their South African winemakers taking part in the tasting in the days before the event.
- You can also find out what is happening across the country as part of Wines of South Africa’s South African Wine Festival 2019 that is happening in the first week of September.
- That will include a special restaurant “safari” on September 2 that The Buyer is holding in partnership with Wines of South Africa where we will be taking a group of wine buyers, sommeliers and wine merchants on a tour of different restaurants where we will be meeting South African producers along the way, and tasting their wines paired with food from that restaurant’s menu.