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The Latest Article – “Baboons like Pinot”

November 26th, 2009

Depression has overtaken me this week and after the robbery in Paris, I am finding it very difficult to find any joy in sport, so I must find it in wine. We had a very well attended tasting last week in the middle of the floods. I was amazed at the turnout considering the conditions. Nuala’s café in Hickey’s Bakery proved a fantastic venue where Nuala, Paddy and Helen put on a great spread with some help from Paul Smith earlier in the day. A huge thank you to all of them. The great food really complimented the wines. Joyce Austin, who was over from New Zealand wants me to convince Nuala to sell wine by the glass, as she thought the place was an absolute gem. Negotiations will begin in earnest next week. I was personally delighted that the tasting was not a French one, as it could have proved a hard sell with the week that was in it. It now looks like I won’t fashion a wine trip to South Africa next summer, so based on my last trip there a few years ago I will tell you all about the history of its wines. Not that any of us really care about South Africa anymore. Thierry, you broke the heart of a nation.

Historically, a large part of the wine trade in South Africa was controlled and oppressed by a national cooperative called the KWV and they had universal prices and quality simply was not an issue. The 1970s changed all of this and the winemakers were free to do what they wanted. The end of Apartheid in 1994 offered them a world market, and their popularity has been steadily growing since. The Mediterranean style climate paired with the cooling Benguela current from Antarctica offer fantastic conditions. The Cape Doctor wind sweeps through the mountains and blows the fungi away, much like the Mistral does in the Rhone Valley. A problem the French winemakers don’t have are with monkeys, or as Inspector Jacques Clouseau would say, “minkeys”. Baboons love the delicate Pinot Noir grapes, and electric fences must be used to protect them. Baboons it would seem have good taste, and have a definite preference for this noble grape. The other grapes that are grown in South Africa include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Merlot, Shiraz and Zinfandel. There is also a particular hybrid that was created by a Dr. Perold when he crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsault in 1926. We know it as Pinotage. On the white front, we have Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc.

In terms of areas of production, the main player is the Cape, which can be broken down into Constantia, Stellenbosch, Paarl and Tulbagh. An interesting fact (or not), about Constantia is that its desert wine was recommended in Jane Austin’s “Sense and Sensibility”. The area we would all be familiar with would be Stellenbosch, and the famous Waterford Estate is well known to Red Nose Wine customers. The Deise have their own wine it would seem. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the blockbusters here. The granite based soil offers quality reds that mirror Bordeaux and the sandstone to the west offer fine whites. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are the stars in this regard. South Africa has a huge diversity of choice but is really still playing catch up on the world market. After the World Cup, they might move to the next level, unless there is another travesty of justice of course. Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

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Red-Nose-Wine-Article---Nationalist-Nov-26-2009

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