What will the year hold for the world of wine? We asked three Cape Town experts to gaze into their crystal balls.
Cathy Marston, wine judge, author and educator for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust
Q: What has you excited about wine this year?
A: The rise of sommellerie is going to be a hot topic. I think we’re going to see a huge uplift in the wine service industry.
Q: Niche varieties and wine styles on the horizon?
A: There’s lots of exciting new stuff: the likes of Verdelho, Albarino and the revival of Carignan.
Q: Up-and-coming wine regions?
A: Elim… there are some interesting wineries, passionate winemakers and some of the oldest viticultural soils in the world.
Allan Mullins, wine judge, Woolworths wine consultant
Q: Which niche varieties will take centre stage this year?
A: In white wines, Grenache Blanc. Tiny plantings, but we can see the promise. For red wines, Malbec. Super examples from Argentina and local examples get better with every vintage. It seems to be perfect for many of our terroirs… I’m not sure why, but younger drinkers seem to lap it up.
Q: New styles coming to seek out?
A: My wish, and hopefully my forecast, is that consumers realise how excellent our Chenin Blanc-based white blends are. Another interesting cultivar that, unfortunately, will never be big is Cinsaut, but it certainly provides a relatively easydrinking wine with attractive red berry fruit and soft tannins.
Q: Wine regions to watch?
A: Hemel-en-Aarde. It is not new, but has been undervalued for too long. Fabulous Pinot Noir, tremendous Chardonnay. The world is waking up to the quality of this region. It’s time we did.
Gregory Mutambe, head sommelier, The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa
Q: New varieties to look out for this year?
A: Some of the Cape’s most celebrated wines consist of Roussanne and lately there has been a growing number of single-varietal Roussannes of superb quality. The same goes for Cinsaut which, evidently, is making a huge comeback. One of the “parents” of Pinotage, Cinsaut produced today stems from old vines, some of them bush vines, and the quality is remarkable.
Q: Wine region to keep an eye on?
A: Elim. Its proximity to the ocean, cool climate conditions and unique terroir ensure that this area produces top white wines with bright acidity and distinctive freshness – and it is, of course, great for “heartbreak grapes” like Pinot Noir.
Q: If you could only drink one local wine this year?
A: Silverthorn The Green Man MCC 2011. Very versatile with food, great for any occasion at any time of day – and so delicious and complex.
Words: Richard Holmes