Alternative Varieties Report 2019

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    Winemag.co.za is pleased to present the second annual Alternative Varieties Report focusing on single-variety wines which fall outside the mainstream.

    44 white wine entries and 43 red wine entries were received and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by the three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale.

    Wines to rate 90 or higher on the 100-point quality scale were as follows:

    WHITE
    95
    Babylonstoren Wine Club Semillon 2017

    92
    Bosman Family Vineyards Fides Grenache Blanc 2017
    Cavalli Verdelho 2016
    Eagles’ Nest Viognier 2018
    Org De Rac Verdelho 2018
    Rickety Bridge Paulina’s Reserve Semillon 2017
    Vrede en Lust Barrique 2017

    91
    Groote Post Riesling 2017
    Highlands Road Semillon 2017
    Highlands Road Semillon 2018
    La Couronne Viognier 2016
    La Couronne Viognier 2017
    Lanzerac Keldermeester Versameling Bergpad Pinot Blanc 2017
    Mariëtte Pinot Blanc 2018 (Le Belle Rebelle)
    Stellenbosch Vineyards Limited Release Verdelho 2018

    90
    Abingdon Signature Viognier NV
    Daschbosch Avon Clairette Blanche 2018
    Dornier Semillon 2018
    Haut Espoir Semillon 2017
    Lieben Roussanne 2018
    Malanot Asiel Semillon 2018
    Nederburg The Winemasters Riesling 2017
    Nitida Semillon 2018
    Usana Pinot Gris 2017

    RED
    94
    Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2016

    93
    Morgenster Cabernet Franc 2016

    92
    Lammershoek The Mysteries Die Ou Man Tinta Barocca 2015
    Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2017
    Warwick Cabernet Franc 2015 (magnum)

    91
    Bosman Family Vineyards Twyfeling Cinsault 2017
    Olifantsberg Grenache Noir 2017
    Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2016

    90
    Abingdon Signature Nebbiolo 2018
    Boplaas Touriga Nacional 2017
    Creation Grenache 2017
    La Couronne Le Petite Malbec 2016
    Lammershoek The Mysteries Die Onderstok Carignan 2017
    Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2015
    Stand Alone Gamay Noir 2018
    Vrede en Lust Artisan Range Cabernet Franc 2016

    To read the report in full, download the following: Alternative Varieties Report 2019

    To view an album of images from yesterday’s announcement function, click here.

    1 COMMENT

    1. This report – the Alternative Varieties Report – which declares that the top 10 varieties (Chenin Blanc, Colombar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage, Chardonnay, Merlot, Ruby Cabernet, Cinsault in that order) amounted to 86% of total plantings, in South Africa as well as the article by Christian – SA VS REST OF WORLD CHARDONNAY TASTING – where Christian states: “Those gathered agreed that discerning one region from another was almost impossible with such factors as picking date and winemaking technique influencing outcome as much if not more than place of origin”, reflects which I have come to bemoan – the sameness or similarity of wine(s). What type of “identity” are we seeking?

      A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide – WHICH WINE GRAPE VARIETIES ARE GROWN WHERE? A GLOBAL EMPIRICAL PICTURE – has compiled a catalogue of the world’s wine grape regions and varieties.

      The 10 most popular grape varieties (in order) are as follows: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Airen, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Syrah, Garnacha, Sauvignon Blanc, Trebbiano, and Pinot Noir.

      As a matter of fact, these grape varieties occupy a whopping 41 percent of the market. All 10 varieties come from only three countries, with nine of them coming from only two! Six out of 10 of these grapes come from France.

      Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate the list, occupying 12 percent of the market alone. These two red varietals, along with Sauvignon Blanc, come from the renowned region of Bordeaux. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir both come from Burgundy. Number six, Syrah, comes from the Rhone Valley.

      Particularly striking is the high and increasing dominance of wine grapes of French origin in the New World’s vineyards: that share averaged 67% in 2010, up from 53% in 2000.

      Kevin Begos, author of TASTING THE PAST – The Science of Flavor & the Search for the Origins of Wine – bemoans the fact that in a world full of thousands of wine grape varieties, each suited to its particular clime, we have limited ourselves to just a handful. Begos laments how we’ve “rammed the famous (i.e., French) varieties” into so many unsuitable habitats. That’s a marketing scam, he says, because we’re still caught in that trap of believing that there are only a few good grape varieties in the whole world.

      Moreover – according to me – the same winemaking techniques are employed, as a necessary result? Same studies, same varieties, same clones, same yeasts, same marketing, making “safe wines” – thus so-called trusty or recognisable wines, the extensive use of purported typicity regarding a certain variety – just don’t make a wine that does not conform to this notion of typicity – you’ll be slaughtered, no art, no individuality, just a sea of grey sameness? Just another beverage? Just the sameness as another Coke?

      We, I mean oenophiles like me, so typically portray wine and the making thereof as another artform, but, is there still art left?

      We just need more Chris Alheits – “Regionality must be one of the most important discussions for the coming years. The whole ‘everybody makes everything’ model has seriously limited global appeal. We need way better regional identity” – he at least professes the virtuosity of regionality; really explores and innovates; don’t we? Or are we really left with just another Coke? What type of “identity” are we seeking?

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