There is an increasing realisation that the South African wine industry’s old vineyards can play a crucial role in differentiating it from its competitors in the global market place. Viticulturist Rosa Kruger has been working on an informal project to list all vineyards over 35 years old and says she has now identified 350 which qualify. There are apparently 4 700ha of vineyard over 30 years old out of a total of some 100 000ha according to SAWIS.
On Friday, a tasting of some old vine wines towards determining a line-up for Kruger to present to the Society of Wine Educators in New York this July. A stand-out wine for me was the Van Lill and Visser Chenin Blanc 2012 under the Cape of Good Hope label from Rupert Wines. From vines on the Skurfberg near Clanwilliam, grapes were whole-bunch pressed and maturation took place for 10 months in large-format old oak barrels.
The nose shows blossom, apple and stone fruit. The palate, meanwhile, is medium bodied yet strikingly pure with really zippy acidity and a very long finish. In a word, arresting and surely what wines from old vines should be.