South Africa wine: tipping point

06 November, 2015

Oldenburg Vineyards’ proprietor Adrian Vanderspuy agrees with DHL’s Heymans that Africa is rising. Speaking at the launch of an art exhibition in London – called 1:54, featuring more than 100 leading African artists and sponsored by Oldenburg – he said: “I am an expat South African, having left there when I was three. I spent much of my life growing up in Australia.”

Having worked in financial services in Singapore and Hong Kong, he commissioned a survey of his grandmother’s estate where he was born.

“On a visit to the Cape, I tasted a bottle made by my neighbour – Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon – that was the lightbulb moment. I realised there was indeed a bright future for South African wines. I commissioned a study of Oldenburg’s terroir to assess its potential for making fine wines – I felt that if I was going to do it we had to aim for the top.

“In 2003, after getting the big thumbs-up from the various consultants, I bought the farm. Our first job was to completely replant to allow for optimal cultivar, rootstock and clone choices,” says Vanderspuy.

He concludes: “Africa is rising and so too are its wines and its art. With its very young demographic, this is a strong long-term trend,” he adds.

Accolade’s Jack adds: “We have a solid foundation of ‘world’ grape varieties, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet. Then we have strategic opportunities like Chenin Blanc and Pinotage from South Africa.

“Statistically, we are planting much of the same things as we have done for the past 10 years, but look below the big hectare plantings and you’ll see a raft of new and exciting varieties such as Touriga Franca, Barbera, Albarino, Rousanne.

“These will be found at the top end in ground-breaking bottlings within the next few years and bode well for the innovation and pioneering spirit very much alive in South Africa.”

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Nick Strangeway

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