MOVIES & BOOZE: Fancy a drink this weekend?

Jean Smullen tastes a number of South African varieties...

Wine expert Jean Smullen discusses a number of South African wines on this week's Movies & Booze: 

South Africa is the world’s seventh largest wine producer; they export their wines to over 140 countries. The quality vineyards of South Africa are widely dispersed through the Western and Northern Cape strung between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The climate is Mediterranean which gives long hot summers from November to May moderated by cold, wet, blustery winters, with snowfall on the higher mountains. Late frosts are rare, as are heavy summer rains. The Benguela current from Antarctica also cools the weather in the Cape Region.

Having just returned from a trip to Stellenbosch where I was judging at the 20th Michelangelo Wine Competition, the time is now right to draw attention to this very much underestimated wine country.

2015 De Morgenzon Chenin Blanc €18.00

Stockists: Greenman Wines, Dublin 6; Donnybrook Fair - Baggot St, Donnybrook, Malahide, Stillorgan & Greystones; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock Village, Co Dublin; Baggot St Wines, Upper Baggot St; Martins, Fairview; Mortons, Ranelagh; Mitchell & Sons, IFSC & Glasthule & Avoca Kilmacanogue; Clontarf Wines.

Chenin Blanc is by far the most widely planted white variety 18.3% of all plantings. It is also the grape variety that produces the most outstanding white wines coming out of South Africa today in terms of quality. In South Africa the grape is also called Steen. Chenin has a lovely naturally high acidity, the charachteristic of the grape is crisp acidity with lovely floral and honied tones.

When you mention De Morgenzon in South Africa, two thing always come up,The name means morning sun because of the position of the vineyards, that and the fact they play baroque music to the vines because they believe that the power of music positively influences the ripening process.

The winery is based in Stellebosch and the wine is made from Old bush vine vineyards grown on weathered granite and sandstone in cool areas of Stellenbosch with a good exposure to cooling sea breezes.

2015 is considered to be an outstanding vintage in South Africa, some are even saying one of the greatest and the quality of the fruit reflects this.

The Dutch Governor, Simon van der Stel, founded Stellenbosch in 1679. DeMorgenzon was originally a section of Uiterwyk, one of the oldest farms in South Africa. Today the Estate is owned by Wendy and Hylton Appelbaum who bought DeMorgenzon in 2003 . The estate has been transformed by them over the past few years.

The wine is made by CARL VAN DER MERWE General Manager and Winemaker who joined DeMorgenzon in July 2010 after an 8 year stint at Quoin Rock Winery in Stellenbosch where he established himself as one of South African’s top young winemakers.

2010 Sijnn €31.50

Stockists: 64 Wine, Glasthule; Mitchell & Sons, IFSC & Glasthule & Avoca Kilmacanogue; Redmonds, Ranelagh; Clontarf wines, On the Grapevine, Dalkey

Dr Eilis Cryan imports some of the best South African wines available on the Irish market today. Her portfolio of wines reflect the many innovative changes in winemaking and wine styles coming out of South Africa today. Go to her website and take a look. Today we are featuring an icon Sijnn (pronounced Sane) from South Africa.

The wine is made by David Trafford from a world class Syrah blended with a huge assortment of grapes, some of which are quite surprising.

Trafford is a self taught winemaker, he started his winery in 1994, originally from Stellenbosch, his family were farmers but he qualified as an architect and initially didn’t plan on a career in wine.

A trip to St Emilion changed that, so in 1994 Dave Trafford returned to South Africa and started what would become a life long passion. His winery De Trafford Estate now produces some of the most innovative wines currently available.

The Sijnn wines are his second lable. The wine is made from a blend of Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Mourvedre, Trincadeira and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sijnn vineyeards are in Swellendam a virtually unknown region that overlooks the Indian Ocean. The wines produced here are labelled Malgas. Keep an eye out for the name because these are cutting edge and are in great demand.

David Trafford and his wife Rita arrived at Malgas with a tent, in 2000. He had a crazy vision of planting vines in the virgin soil here 40k from nearest vines. Mediterranean & Portuguese grapes combine in the flagship red Sijnn with the Sijnn White a Chenin/Viognier. 16 years on the project continues with new plantings of Grenache Noir, Blanc & Peluda, Tempranillo, TintaCão, Verdelho & Assyrtiko. Jancis Robinson, an admirer from the outset, made the first vintage of 2007 her wine of the week in 2010 saying it was “Thoroughly complete and satisfying”.

Wine Events – September 2016

Back to school and wine tasting season starts up again. Between now and Christmas the diary is filling up. The Campo Viejo Tapas Trail returns to Galway from Aug 25th to September 7th. Look out for the Wines Direct tasting at Arnotts on Thurs 8th Sept at 18:00 with Paddy Borthwick.

For the trade there is a South African tasting on Sept 13th that is a MUST ATTEND .. the Greatest Cape South African Tasting will feature new cutting edge producers more details of these and many many other trade and consumer events on the wine diary -