March Wine Club

Mar 28, 2024

South Africa is one of the top wine-producing countries focusing on sustainability and the top producer of fair-trade wine globally. With a keen focus on caring for the land and the people who create the wine, you can be assured that the wine reflects the care put in. Early Spring seems perfect for diving into a few of these wines. Most commonly grown in South Africa are Chenin Blanc and Pinotage. However, we were intrigued by some Rhone varietals grown in the Western Cape and an aperitif made in the Swartland. If you’re inclined to open any this weekend, any or all of these would be a perfect pairing with lamb or ham for your Easter feast. Cheers, P. + E.

Olifantsberg Vineyard

Western Cape, South Africa

Olifantsberg vineyard is nestled adjacent to the Olifantsberg Mountains (named because the aerial view looks similar to the shape of an “elephant,” aka Olifant). It is also reminiscent of elephants that once roamed this area. Olifantsberg estate and vineyards are rugged yet pristine while environmentally immaculate. Everything is done by hand. No chemicals are used. Wines are not fined or filtered—all natural ferments and all the wines are certified sustainable. At a relatively high elevation, 450 meters above sea level, and steep sloping vineyards, the area is also significantly dry. The soil is shale and quartz soils, and the vines are trellised and planted densely, with up to 7500 plants per hectare. All of these factors lead to the complexity and intensity of the grapes that are grown. The winemaking team, Elizma and her husband Ferdi focus on hearty Rhone grape varietals. Olifantsberg Vineyards is said to be one of the most beautiful vineyard sites on the planet, and the estate is 100% holistic in its vineyards. Here we’ve chosen two offerings to share with you.

2021 Grenache Blanc

In the glass, this is a pale yellow. If color had a smell, the aromas reminded me of green, crisp, and fresh like coastal air. It is a unique style of Grenache Blanc with a lot of finesse; there is a silky weighted mouthfeel, subtle notes of lime blossoms and herbs, and nice acidity and a bit of salinity on the finish.

2021 Grenache Noir

In the glass, this is a purply red hue with a slight brick tinge. It is an aromatic wine with pretty notes of light floral shrubbery and baked clay or red dirt. A slight chill on the wine opens up to the dark cherry, raspberry, and blood orange notes. The palate is vibrant with youthful tannins like a black currant tea and a beautiful fruit-forward finish.

Capertif

Swartland, South Africa

An aperitif is a fun way to kick off a dinner party or have a low abv cocktail. Aperitifs can be sipped solo (with or without ice and with or without a twist) or made into a spritzer with soda water or sparkling wine and even used as the foundation for a cocktail with spirits. Traditionally, you find these from Western Europe: Italy, France, and Spain, so we were quite intrigued when we were introduced to Caperitif from South Africa. It’s unique as it combines 35 different botanicals with fortified wine, with the Chenin Blanc varietal as the base. One of the main ingredients in Caperitif is grapefruit, which gives it a tart to semi-sweet taste and a slightly bitter undertone. The botanicals are plentiful with a shrub with aromatic foliage that produces delicate, rose-tinted flowers in the Spring. Additionally, the infusion features rooibos leaves, which are known for their herbal tea use. Rooibos tea has a rich history in South Africa, where Dutch settlers adopted it as a cost-effective alternative to black tea. In the glass, this is orange honey in color. The nose is reminiscent of old-school fruit punch cans. The palate has a supple texture with a very nice balance of sweetness and dryness. There are notes of clove and herbal cedar on the long finish.