REVIEW: A look at the recent revival of South African wine’s with the new kids in town

034Richard Kershaw, MW was in town recently on a tour of Asia and dropped by at the Institute for Tourism Studies in Macau for a Master class on South African wines and gave us his insight on the risen stars in the Cape Winelands.
Born and raised in Sheffield, UK Richard worked as a chef before moving to the wine trade while often listening to the Clash. Richard got a basic winemaking diploma by correspondence and traveled as a cellar-hand to faraway places including California, Chile, France, Germany, Hungary and finally South Africa in 1999.
Richard became assistant winemaker at Mulderbosch where he then took the opportunity as winemaker at Nelson Estate in Paarl for 2 harvest before becoming cellar master at Kanu in 2003 and then as group winemaker of both Mulderbosch and Kanu in late 2009. In 2011 he left to pursue his dream of making his own wine from his farm in cool Elgin, South Africa. In the same year Richard passed the highly difficult Master of Wine and becomes the first MW South African winemaker in South Africa. The wine’s that Richard presented from his own portfolio was the Kershaw Clonal Selection Syrah 2012 and the Kershaw Clonal Selection Chardonnay 2012.
The first flight of wines were the white blends and started with a tasting of the Aristargos 2013 which consist of Chenin Blanc, Voignier, Clairette Blanche and Roussane and is made by the larger than life David Sadie. Born and bred in the famous wild wine region area of Swartland but is not related to the other Sadie which you might have heard of. David has an impressive resume with local and overseas experience including France and New Zealand in wine making. He believes in a wine style where wines are not influenced by using commercial yeasts, enzymes, high sulphur levels or too much new oak.
Donavan Rall is the man behind the label Rall White Blend 2013, this succulent blend consist of Chenin Blanc, Veldelho, Chardonnay and Viognier. A love of Mediterranean varietals, Donavan makes just two wines, one white and one red blend in tiny productions but with a real focus on quality and that’s why his wines keeps gathering 5-Star Platter’s ratings like there’s no tomorrow.
John Seccombe is one of the newest kid on the block with his maiden vintage of the Thorne and Daughters Rocking Horse Cape White Blend 2013 which I had the pleasure to taste back in the stunning Hemel en Aarde, which is heaven on earth. This delicious Roussanne, Semillon, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc blend has character and with no pun intended, simply rocks. John’s approach to wine making is gentle, simple and honest, and he is always looking to make wines that tell a story, not wines that shout and bang a drum.
For the second flight of wines it was the turn of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc driven wines, first up was the Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay Clonal Selection 2012, this wine is also the first for Richard as he embarks on a search for the best Chardonnay clones for his impressive wines, this one has the clones CY76, CY95, and CY96 which may sounds something from Star Wars but each clone has its own wonderful attributes. The inaugural Chardonnay has already gathered a 5-Star rating in the much lauded Platter guide but it’s a little too early to quit while you’re ahead.
The Cartology 2013 which has old vines Chenin Blanc and very old vines Semillon is the creation of Chris and Suzaan Alheit. The wonderful couple is making small amounts but wonderful wines in the Hemelrand which if you don’t know your maps, it is in the Hemel en Aarde Ridge region in the Walker Bay area. Since their debut Cartology 2011 vintage, the Alheit’s have gone from strength to strength and will surely be a name in the future to match the other great husband and wife winemaking team, the Mullineux’s.
Craig Hawkins may not be the newish kid on the block but makes very interesting wines at his day job at Lammershoek. Think of Hárslevelü and Zinfandel, think of witty names such as “sink the pink” and “sweet cheeks” and then think again with wines that are made underwater. Craig’s own label Testalonga, are wines made in tiny production so we were lucky to taste the El Bandito Skin Contact Chenin 2013. This wine divided the room, much discussed and definitely controversial but Craig would not have it any other way. I love what he is doing not only his wines are amazing but his wine labels are equally as brilliant.
The last flight took us into the holy grail of Pinot Noir and Syrah, we started with the JH Meyer Signature Pinot Noir 2013, this only being Johan third vintage alongside the equally impressive Chardonnay. Made in the cool region of Elgin, where a sense of place is important, Johan Meyer is really pushing the boundaries of hand craft and natural fine winemaking in the Cape.

Peter-Allan Finlayson shares his small and rustic winery with Chris Alheit and is   making wonderful Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Hemel en Aarde area. Peter-Allan would probably have worked for his much respected father Peter at Bouchard Finlayson but the working hours keep getting in the way of the surfing. Luckily he and his brother Andrew started Crystallum and now producing an array of stunning wines including the Cuvee Cinema Pinot Noir 2012 and is indeed an oak chip off the old block.
The last but no means least wine we tasted was Richard’s Kershaw Elgin Syrah Clonal Selection 2012, these wines were made with clones SH9C and SH22, have personality, looked brilliant now and will only get better with age. Richard attention to detail from the vines to the bottle is a wine geeks dream so I’m pretty contented.
South Africa is the most exciting place to be in the wine world today with these up and coming young and youngish winemakers who are breaking all the rules and pushing the boundaries in the Cape Winelands. Will these young guns stay on course and be future wine champions, it’s not going to be a bed of roses or a pleasure cruise but I do think so.

By David Wong
Categories Business World