Buyers’ Guide to VINTAGES August 3rd: Spotlight on South Africa

Rosé all day, an absence of whites, reds in Portuguese, French and Italian dress plus choosing South Africa like falling off a log.

by Michael Godel with notes from David Lawrason and Sara d’Amato

It has been nearly a year since I last visited South Africa and every time VINTAGES rolls out an easily managed thematic collection of wines from that great country the heart swells and memories flood back into the brain. The powers that be within the LCBO’s New World buyers’ department do their finest no sweat work and narrowing down when it comes to Western Cape collections, surely witnessed and proven by the duck soup choices made for both the July 20th and August 3rd releases. But we can’t lay too much emphasis on their easily accomplished selections as being the be all, end all reason for the successes. Producers are fortunate to work with exceptional terroir that includes dozens or more old vine blocks in many Cape nooks and transversely the Ontario purchasing choices are so numerous it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. The winemaker’s adage of “just don’t mess it up” translates into kudos to the buyers for getting things right. The fact is South African wines are of such high quality across varietal, producer and regional lines they speak for themselves and do so with great heart.

What do you do with the Swartland Swingers? Lawn bowls in Malmesbury of course

Related – Heritage and diversity in South Africa

Which brings me to what struck so strong in September 2018, straight to the heart and without equivocation. Heritage and diversity are the country’s two greatest strengths. Sure as a circle will turn you around there is this third tangible and credible something that seems so unmissable about South Africa and South Africans. Resilience. Neither politics, nor conflicts between and in the oppression of peoples nor drought can deter the farmers, workers and producers of this nation. The human condition mimics its heritage vineyards planted to century-old varieties, to perpetuate and to persevere. This is the South African way. And it is the wines that are exceptional in ways that require great levels of explanation.

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Le Volte Dell'Ornellaia 2017 

Over the last several centuries, grape varieties were brought, expatriated and forced into the blending of exile. No peoples should ever be de-humanized nor taken for granted and neither should wines be quietly dismissed. With each passing varietal situation, time has been sublimed and wines produced in South Africa teach us that they simply are not examples of minor beverages. It has taken place in the heart of agriculturalist and winemaking ability, to change small things and see greatness in ascension to that which is simple, authentic and refined. It’s a matter of having felt sensations introduced into the absurdity of our lives.

While this August 3rd VINTAGES is chock full of stalwart South African wines it bears repeating that July 20th also gifted some worthy picks. The list below takes a page out of each book.

Stellenbosch Braai

South Africa picks – August 3rd Release

Cederberg Chenin Blanc 2018, WO Cederberg ($18.95)
David Lawrason – Cederberg is both a wine brand and a wine appellation, the latter being at the highest altitude of any vineyard in South Africa. The cooler climate has produced a leaner, citrus and herbal driven example actually not unlike sauvignon blanc.
Michael Godel – Next level chenin blanc from the Cederburg appellative specialist, so very herbal, lime driven and smart like dry riesling in a Rheinhessen way. Terrific acids lift and elevate the lime and tonic flavours. Most excellent arid example with a dried herb finish. …


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Thanks for reading up on South Africa once again. The WineAlign team continues their travelling ways this summer, with stops in France, New Zealand and New York’s Finger Lakes. I’m sure future articles and newsletters will soon be filled with those stories. Until next time.

Good to go!

godello

Use these quick links for access to all of our Top Picks in the New Release. Non-Premium members can select from all release dates 30 days prior.
Lawrason’s Take
Michael’s Mix
Sara’s Sommelier Selections

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