Wines of South Africa: Low Intervention Wines

On December 6th I attended a tasting sponsored by Wines of South Africa. It was in conjunction with the Raw Wine virtual wine fair. Raw Wine was a yearly wine event held in New York City as well as in Berlin and London that featured low intervention wines from around the world. Over a hundred wines were poured and was a great opportunity to sample numerous of those styles of wine in one event. They cancelled the New York event last year and unfortunately this year as well.

This event was held at Sommtime wine bar located at 254 Bromme Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It’s a wine bar that specializes in natural wines. It’s a tiny restaurant and made for an intimate tasting experience and I mean intimate with most of us standing cheek to cheek while sampling the wines.

This was a great opportunity for me to try wines that I admit, I usually pass over when I’m at one of those mega tastings. In South Africa their iconic white wines are made from Chenin Blanc while their iconic reds are made from Pinotage which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It was a very enjoyable tasting with most of the whites poured Chenin Blanc while the reds were more diverse with some Pinotage, many Cinsault blends and French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Some of what I sampled:

2019 David & Nadia “Plat’bos” Chenin Blanc2020 Intellego “Story of Harry” Skin Contact White
2020 Joostenberg “Die Agteros” Chenin Blanc2016 Sadie Family “Palladius”
2019 Mulleneux “Granite” Chenin Blanc2018 Bosman “Optenhorst” Old Vine Chenin Blanc
2017 Alheit “Cartology”2019 Blackwater “Pleasure Gardens” Palomino
2018 Anybos Grenache Noir2019 Bostman “Twyfelling” Cinsault
2019 Carven Cabernet Sauvignon2020 Van Loggerenberg “Break a Leg” Syrah
2020 Intellego “Halagasha” Pinotage2020 JH Meyer “Cuvee NoS” Pinot Noir
2019 Natie Valleij Cinsault2020 Trizanne Signature Wines “TSW” Cinsault

South African Sunday

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Sunday July 19th was a brutally hot day. During the afternoon the temperature shot up to 93° (about 34° for the metric folk out there) so it was as good as time as any to spend the time in a cool spot indoors, drinking some wine.

Wines provided by Babylonstoren, a winery/hotel and one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in the country located in the Drakentein Valley in the heart of wine land about 60km from Cape Town, South Africa.

The event was held at the Silverstone loft at 58 Gansevoort Street. It was the type of event space that when the people walked in, they all thought out loud ‘gee, I wish this was my apartment”, brick walls, skylight in the kitchen and a killer sound system right smack in the middle of one of the hottest neighborhoods in Manhattan and the wines were tasty as well.

2015 Chenin Blanc. Green herbs on the nose, lime notes on the fruit, good balance and easy drinking.

2013 Viognier. Medium yellow, floral and earth notes on the nose with fresh green herbs on the fruit.

2015 Mouvèdre Rosé. Pale bright pink with notes of fresh herbs and cotton candy on the fruit.

2012 Chardonnay. The bottles are individually numbered, the first one I sampled, number 7232 was off with oxidized, sherry-like flavors. Another bottle was opened and that was a different animal altogether , floral and green herbs (which was a reoccurring flavor profile) on the nose, tight with good mouth feel with saffron notes on the finish.

2013 “Babel Red”. A Bordeaux blend, dark red to black in color with a muted nose of crushed red berries, silky tannin and astringent at the end.

2012 Shiraz. Black in color, fresh rosemary on the nose, chunky and chewy, nice tannin with some metallic notes on the finish.

2012 “Nebukadnesar”. Their flagship wine, another Bordeaux blend, dark, thick red in color, with crushed red berries on the nose, dried herbs, camphor and crushed black berries on the fruit.