Martin Moran reviews Fides Grenache Blanc 2015 and Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cabernet 2013
South Africa has come a long way on the last 20 years ago since it emerged blinking into the daylight after the years of isolation caused by apartheid. There are some exciting developments all over the Cape. Winemakers have been hunting out old vineyards and also planting new ones in cooler climates.
There’s a worldwide movement to make wines more ‘naturally’. It involves organically farmed grapes then made handled with the minimum of intervention in the winery. That is to say the grapes are fermented by naturally occurring yeasts and no sugar or acid or anything else is added and then the wine isn’t fined or filtered. The big imponderable is sulphur dioxide. A little has been used by winemakers since Roman times. It kills bugs and acts as an anti-oxidant so it prevents the wine browning and turning to vinegar. ‘Hard core’ or fundamentalist natural winemakers use none and frankly the results are variable. Many taste faulty but some taste fabulous.
Fides Grenache Blanc 2015 and Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cabernet 2013
Today's wines tasted on the show from The Cape are from the wild or natural end of the spectrum. Fides ‘orange’ wine is just that. It’s not red, white or rosé but a kind of amber because the white Grenache Blanc grapes it’s made from are fermented, unusually, with the skins and in this case left in contact for three weeks. There’s a lot of flavour in and just under the skins so more flavour is extracted but also some colour and if the skins are worked too hard tannin. It’s hard to get right and usually done on a small scale and until now in Ireland only a handful of such wines have been available in good independent merchants and restaurants or wine bars with a real interest in the subject. Now you could say it’s gone mainstream as Marks and Spencer have listed one, opening up this new style to a wider audience.
The second wine tasted is Springfield Estate Whole Berry Cabernet 2013 from Robertson in South Africa. It’s created by brother and sister team Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer, who’ve been making natural wines longer than the term has existed or since before many of the bearded hipsters who are into it were born. Their Cabernet is made from low yielding organic vines. The grapes are simply destemmed and placed uncrushed into a vat without pumps and fermentation is by indigenous yeasts with no fining or filtering before bottling, although they do add sulphur prior to bottling.
Fides Grenache Blanc 2015, Wellington, S. Africa €20.50, Marks and Spencer.
It has a light orangey amber colour and maybe the colour tricks the mind but it has a flavour almost of orange marmalade but it’s crisp and dry and not oxidised or sherry like as some orange wines are. The does have a little sulphur added prior to bottling.
Slightly herbaceous blackcurrant leaf is the dominant aroma with some tannin and a little oak.
Martin Moran MW @winerepublic