Pure is not necessarily best. But if you're confused by the
proliferation of wine blends on retail shelves, think in foodie terms. A
blend is rather like a recipe that combines ingredients. In this case, a
mix of grape varieties, with a winemaker as 'chef'.
The comparison is by no means frivolous. At a certain level, both are artists demonstrating their skills. For a blend can provide what a single variety, dependent upon the character of the grape, the vineyard conditions and vintage, simply can‘t.
As local chefs are experimenting with new ingredients, so SA winemakers are freeing themselves from prescribed blends. In France, where blending is a way of life, rigid rules about grape varieties and proportions govern most of the great Bordeaux reds. Our freethinkers are combining grape varieties that in Europe would not be allowed to mix.
These pioneering wines rely heavily on the winemaker’s expertise. Established European blends have been honed over centuries. It takes a leap of imagination, plus considerable tasting and retasting to refine a new “recipe”.
One of the most imaginative local blends launched recently goes back to the Cape’s winemaking roots, looking to “out of fashion” grape varieties to provide new interest.
Hilko Hegewisch, winemaker at Solms-Delta in Franschhoek Cape Town, is an adventurer, assessing new grape combinations “all the time”. His lively mix labelled Solms-Astor Vastrap is an innovative white Cape blend of Chenin blanc, SA’s largest planted variety, Semillon, known as ‘Groendruif’ [Green Grape] in colonial times, which was extensively planted in Franschhoek some 200 years ago and Riesling.
It’s fresh and price friendly.
Just as exciting is his Solms-Astor Langarm, Southern European red varieties in a pure Cape Blend - sweet tannins with nutty undertones, combining Pinotage, Touriga Naçional, Shiraz and Mourvèdre.
Combining the move to innovative blends and closures that seal in freshness, they are both available in a screw-topped bottle.