The Buyer
New Generation’s James Booth shines spotlight on South Africa

New Generation’s James Booth shines spotlight on South Africa

For all the hype, pomp and circumstance there has been around South African wines over the last three to four years, there are still parts of the premium on-trade that has yet to feel its magic. At least in terms of listings and getting more of these breakthrough wines into the hands of sommeliers and their customers. The third New Wave South African tasting hopes to change that and once again provide a springboard for so many of the country’s exciting, dynamic winemakers to come to London and show what they can do. Here James Booth of New Generation Wines explains what we can expect.

Richard Siddle
2nd August 2019by Richard Siddle
posted in People,People: Supplier,

The best talent from South Africa is promised at this September’s New Wave tasting in London as five importers showcase the producers and winemakers.

Once again the five original importers that first came together to host the breakthrough New Wave South African tasting are uniting forces to host what will be third bi-annual event. So what have the collected talents of Swig, Dreyfus Ashby, Indigo Wine and Fields Morris & Verdin got in store for us? Here’s of the fifth importer to be involved, New Generation Wines, to tell us.

This is the third New Wave tasting…why are you doing it again?

Not only is the energy around the event awesome, which translates into the right kind of wine drinker attending the tasting, but also because it suits our South African style. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and the New Wave event has created an environment perfect for our producers to just be themselves, and let the quality of the wine do the talking.

Johan Reyneke will be showing his range of biodynamic wineries at the New Wave tasting

What have you learnt from the past events?

I’ve learnt that not only is the London drinks scene still one of the most upbeat and dynamic sectors in the world, but that the people attending the New Wave event (whether buyers, journalists, or just your average man or woman off the street) are truly passionate and engaging, and wonderfully welcoming of us all to the city.

What can we expect different from this year’s event overall?

In some instances wine styles have been pushed even further in a pursuit for quality, and in other instances the winemakers have toned down the ‘natural’ focus slightly, resulting in clean, well balanced wines that could hold positions on some of the great wine lists around the world. It will also be a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the some of the iconic wines from the 2017 vintage, which is up there with the 2015 in my opinion.

Which producers and winemakers will you have at the tasting?

Callie Louw: inspiring winemaker – and even more so on the braii

The ever-intriguing Callie Louw will be there with his Porseleinberg Syrah, undoubtedly one of the most unique Syrahs from the New World. Pieter Carstens will be showing some exciting wines from the Leeuwenkuil stable, as well as two new and exciting blends under the Pieter Carstens label that he makes using the Solera System.

Rudiger Gretschel will be wearing his House of Krone hat, and will be showing some of the MCC’s that he has been presiding over at Twee Jong Gezellen. Highlights here have to include the RD2006 as well as the brand new Amphora wine from Kaaimansgat, and the hugely celebrated Blanc de Blanc.

Gottfried Mocke will be showing the 2017 wines from Boekenhoutskloof, as well as Boekenhoutskloof’s new Cool Climate Project in the Hemel & Aarde, Cap Maritime. The infectious warmth of Johan Reyneke will be on display as he pours his much loved range of Reyneke Wines.

How do you see the overall South African wine scene? What is standing out for you?

The wine scene is in an interesting position at the moment. The uncertainty around land in South Africa, as well as the horrific drought that we have all had to endure has had a significant effect on agriculture. The good news is the quality gets better and better every year, so there is no sign of that New Wave getting old, or crashing!

Inflationary and drought pressure has had a significant effect on pricing across the board, but despite this, South Africa still offers incredible value for money in the mid to high tiers.

Gottfried Mocke will be showing the wines he makes for Boekenhoutskloof’

What do you think buyers and sommeliers you should be focusing on?

The exceptional value for money that South Africa offers. Bang for buck South Africa is still incredibly hard to compete with, and the approachable style of a lot of our wines make them perfect for restaurant lists.

What are the biggest opportunities?

I see opportunities opening up for Cap Classique in the UK. We cant compete with commercial Prosecco or Cava, (and shouldn’t have to), but MCC offers an authentic, and utterly delicious alternative at a middle ground for the consumer that doesn’t want the big price step up to Champagne or UK fizz.

What are the biggest challenges with South African wine in the UK’s premium on-trade?

Scale. Many of our great wines are highly allocated, and therefore difficult to keep on certain lists for a whole year, or even season.

How is business in general across all your portfolios?

Good. The UK consumer still seems to enjoy our commercial offerings in the big multiples like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Asda, and the more discerning wine buyer tends to look out for our more sought-after wines. Brands like The Chocolate Block tend to offer something to every level of consumer.

What are the new big opportunities you are seeing in the premium on-trade this year?

Cap Classique, as a departure from the traditional bubbles on offer by the glass. Boekenhoutskloof Syrah and Cabernet, as the investment in both farms and the cellar has allowed volumes grow to levels that ensure consistency of supply all year round.

Reyneke, as the world is still going bonkers for all things green and organic. Reyneke offers this, and a whole lot of wine for the price!

  • You can taste New Generation Wines South African range at the 2019 New Wave Tasting which is going to be held on September 3 at Phonica Records (Vinyl Factory), 51 Poland Street, London W1F 7BE from 10am until 6pm. To register to attend please click here.

  • 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 over the coming weeks.
  • 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.