A tasting in London a few weeks ago saw a group of South African winemakers join together under the banner of the Old Vine Project.
The Old Vine Project is a recent initiative whereby wine makers and growers are encouraged to take care of and preserve old blocks of vines, in this case vines that are more than 35 years old.
The Old Vine Project believes that old vines make for a unique character, and can preserve the heritage of the South African wine industry – like going back to the past to preserve the future.
From the 2017 vintage, wines made from vines more than 35 years old will be able to be certified as old vines, allowing the consumer to recognise those wines made from these precious old vines.
It was a fascinating tasting and I will return to it in a later column.
In the meantime, here is a wine to seek out, probably one of the best value wines I’ve tasted so far this year.
Darling Cellars Old Bush Vines Chenin Blanc 2016 (frontierfinewines.co.uk £13.95 Hermitage Cellars £12.95) is from the Darling region on the Cape west coast, where the rolling hills of the area are cooled by the wind from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.
The wine was matured for 10 months in a mixture of new and older French oak and then the best five barrels were selected for the final blend.
The nose shows citrus, peach, pear and just a hint of spice followed by a very pure palate with great length.
It’s still a little tight and would no doubt evolve given a few years in the bottle, but it’s delicious now.
It won the trophy for the best chenin blanc at a major South African show this year.
While I must be honest, I have tasted finer Cape chenin blancs, this is undoubtedly amazing value for money. Be quick though, only 1,642 bottles were produced.
I drank the chenin blanc while out in the garden watching the barbecue take.
I served my guests a butterflied leg of lamb with two really interesting Italian wines from the highly regarded Valpolicella producer, Masi.
Valpolicella MontePiazzo Serego Alighieri 2012, Masi (Gpbrands.eu £21.83) is really not Valpolicella as you may know it.
This is a blend of local varieties corvina, rondinella and Molinara and it undergoes the practise of double fermentation often used in the region to give more intensity.
Aged in large older barrels, there is intense cherry fruit, spices and wild herbs on the nose, followed by a rich almost-plummy palate with silky tannins.
Brolo Campofiorin Oro 2012, Masi (dulwichvintners.co.uk £21.00) is another blend of local varieties but this time corvina, rondinella and oseleta, and the wine again undergoes a double fermentation.
This has plum, cherry, mocha and even a touch of espresso as well as vanilla on the nose with dark berries and spice on the palate before a long, smooth finish.
You may need to track these two wines down but, believe me, if you are looking for a top class Italian red it will be worth it.