Rall Red 2013

Donovan Rall of Rall Wines.

Donovan Rall of Rall Wines.

Why do SA’s whites tend to outperform its reds? It’s a question again posed by Donovan Rall’s red blend from the 2013 vintage. It’s blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Grenache from Swartland vineyards; 40% whole-bunch fermentation and maturation lasting 18 months in older oak and you’d have to say all looking good on paper…

Nice aromatics of red and black fruit, flowers, herbs and spice. Rich and round on the palate with moderate acidity and soft tannins – nothing unduly “stemmy”. There’s a generosity about the wine and it’s remarkably easy to drink but it simply doesn’t have the same complexity that his white constitently delivers. Wine Cellar price: R245 a bottle.

Score: 90/100.

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  1. ChristianJuly 11, 2015 at 5:24 amReplyAuthor

    Hi James and Johnson, Some thoughts on the whites vs reds question:

    1. SA has more white grape vineyards with age than red: 29% in the case of the former compared to 9% in the case of the latter are over 20 years old.

    2. White grape varieties benefit from being early ripening. Sugar ripeness outpacing phenolic ripeness will always be an issue when it comes to reds.

    3. Leaf roll virus remains a problem with this detracting much more from red than white wine quality.

    4. White wines are often “less adulterated” – they are picked less ripe, are not subjected to heavy acid additions and receive less wood treatment. We are starting to see reds made with more restraint but there is a fine line between “elegance” and a lack of substance.

    5. On a positive note, our best winemakers increasingly show a confidence and composure that allows them to make wines that are not derivative but express their South African origins in a truly compelling way, whether they be from white or red grapes. Exciting times lie ahead.

  2. JohnsonJuly 10, 2015 at 10:41 amReply

    Then there is the question: why does international opinion leaders in wine appreciate the new wave of red from SA – guys such as Goode, Atkin, Martin, even Robinson. Perhaps one should examine our own palates and and how it is lacking in understanding of where the world of red wine is moving? Perhaps we are so accustomed to wines heavily laid with syrup, wood and preparations to create the feel of complexity, that we are unable to spot bright wines which rely on authenticity and pure grape juice to just be? Perhaps lighter style wines can also show complexity and depth, if only we can learn to appreciate them, or can actually taste them and thus distinguish between on the one side, short, sweet and thin cheap wines and on the other side lighter style wines built around pronounced yet silky tannins and a linear show of character?

  3. JamesJuly 9, 2015 at 11:51 amReply

    Hi Christian

    The new generation seem to be betting on Syrah, and to a lesser extent, Grenache. Do you think this is the correct way to go or should we be looking to other Mediterranean varieties for a solution, either as varietal wines or as additional blending components for Syrah or Grenache based wines? Put another way, is local Cabernet, Syrah or Pinot ever going to rival the best of our white wines?

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