This year’s coolest new reds maybe unfamiliar to many - we all know that this year has been dry and as water becomes ever more scarce, so canny winemakers are seeking out grape varieties which need less water to survive. Introducing Grenache Noir, Cinsault and Tempranillo.
Often labelled just as ‘Grenache’, this is the leading grape variety in the Southern Rhône region of France. It likes to grow as a bushvine and in the most famous Grenache-producing vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, the stony soil bounces heat up onto the low-hanging bunches of grapes, helping them to ripen fully.
Neil Ellis Grenache 2011 (R275 from specialist retailers)
Neil Ellis was one of the first winemakers to discover the oldest plantings of Grenache in SA, high in the mountains around Piekenierskloof. Here these bushvines make surprisingly intense wines, with savoury dark red berried fruit and whiffs of peppery spice.
Oldenburg Grenache Noir 2014 (R250 cellar door)
This is the first release from Oldenburg in the Banghoek Valley and it has to be said, it’s an unusual grape variety for them to plant! But winemaker Philip Costandius loves the Rhône and believes the cooler slopes of Banghoek give much more elegance to the wine. It’s light and fragrant with lots of fruit, soft tannins and good length.
Aka ‘cinsaut’ – it doesn’t really make any difference although in France, you would always use the ‘l’. This grape variety has been grown in SA for a long time and has been part of some of the most venerable SA brands. It comes from Southern France where it’s regarded as a bit of a workhorse grape. But if you can wait till the vines age a bit, it produces fine, concentrated flavours with an interesting stony, pencil-shaving minerality to it.
Waterkloof Seriously Cool Cinsaut 2015 (R120 cellar door)
This comes from the biodynamically-farmed vineyards on the sides of the Helderberg facing the sea where the wind howls and the vines need to be tough. And these are – planted as bushvines between 26 and 61 years ago, their roots go down deep, anchoring them in the soil. The wine is light but still serious, with flavours of cherries, strawberries and tar.
Fairview Cinsault 2015
No-one should be surprised to see Charles Back of Fairview launch a Cinsault – he is SA’s first official Rhone Ranger after all!! 30 year old bushvines, dry-farmed so the roots go deep into the earth – all the things you’d expect – make for wonderful soft, juicy flavours yet with structure to make it a little more than a mere fruit bomb. Very lovely wine.
This is one of Spain’s most popular grapes, one which also ventures over the border to Portugal where it is known as Tinta Roriz. There it is one of the key varieties in Port and as such, has been planted here for some time (although there is some dispute as to whether it was Tinta Roriz or Tinta Amarela!) but it is only recently that people have started making it as a still wine.
Baleia Wines Tempranillo 2014 R110 cellar door
This comes from the cool Cape South Coast where farms such as Baleia Wines and Sjinn Vineyards are finding much success with Mediterranean varieties. It’s from quite young vines and is made in a fresh and lively style with good acidity and soft-ish tannins backing up the ripse, elegant black berried fruit.
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- Cathy Marston