This week the South African wine industry was honoured by a visit from renowned wine writer Jancis Robinson and I had the privilege to listen to her at two occasions.
Joining forces with her husband and respected restaurant writer Nicholas Lander they complimented both the national wine and restaurant industries. Seven years since her last visit, Jancis was impressed with the quality of South African wine in general and was quite surprised that it did not have a stronger presence in the American and European markets especially as its value for money is exceptional.
The food industry was also praised for being of exceptional value, for the quality of its produce and for wonderful service levels. Nick mentioned that he would like to ship a load of our waiters to England! Globally food trends are similar to what we see in South Africa – a focus on heritage with traditional recipes and organic, natural and local produce .
Addressing the local wine industry at the annual VinPro Day, Jancis addressed global wine trends in a very informative way. The complete presentation will be available from the VinPro website on Monday, but here are some of my notes:
- Soil types and wine characteristics are being researched and plays an increasingly important role in the way people perceive wine.
- Viticulture and expression of origin are becoming more important than the vinification.
- References should be vineyard or site specific, ie Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch, rather than the wider categorisation of Coastal or Western Cape.
- The Organic category is growing.
- Internationally water resources are under pressure.
- Heritage cultivars or indigenous grapes are also on-trend. We immediately think of Pinotage, but there are many more and she lists them in her book, Wine Grapes – A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties including their origins and flavours.
- It is also the trend for these specific cultivars and niche products that is driving the British consumer back to small wine shops and boutiques rather than supermarkets.
- Overall she feels that the UK stays a good option for South African wine, but feels that we have to work much harder at making inroads into the USA.
- Moscato still stays popular internationally, Hermitage is gaining ground in the US and she feels that there is much scope for South African Chenin Blanc.
- Style wise the trend is for wine to be lighter and for red wines specifically to be softer.
- White wine is increasingly considered as food wine.
- The Chinese consumer is becoming more sophisticated – they are quick learners!
I was impressed by how excited she was about the South African wine industry. To hear such an important player in the wine world being so optimistic about our quality and possibilities in the market can only be an inspiration so early in 2015.