Epicurean Review: PIWOSA media wine tasting and dinner

The Luxe Factor: Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa debuts in Hong Kong with “Flight Club”, “Speed Dating” and Winemakers’ Dinner, part of 11-day “Asia Tour”

BY Arjun Sekri

27

Apr
2017

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1 Comment 935 Views

Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa (PIWOSA) is a collective of family owned, like minded, premium, independent wine producers of South Africa’s Western Cape, dedicated to the highest quality production of boutique wines. With innovative programs and events, they shine the spotlight on the flourishing premium South African category for local and global wine lovers. While each winery portrays its own micro climates and unique sites and soils, PIWOSA represents the incredible diversity of Premium South African wine today.

Influenced by Mediterranean climate, the Western Cape is cooler than its position might suggest, with conditions that are ideal for growing a wide range of noble wine cultivars. Although winemaking commenced here in 1659, its viticulture is rooted in some of the most ancient soils in the world dating back over 600 million years. Combining distinctive and diverse topography, the region produces a wide range of style of premium wines of incredible character.

 

Map of Western Cape Municipal Districts, South Africa

Map of Western Cape Municipal Districts, South Africa

 

PIWOSA wowed Hong Kong in a stunning debut last week, with a series of exclusive events for media, F&B professionals and trade, including a blind tasting competition for the city’s top sommeliers and wine professionals. Results were astonishing in that not one participant could detect all of the top French wines from amongst the line-up of premium South African wines.

The first event of the day, “Flight Club”, was hosted by Debra Meiburg MW and 9 winery owners and representatives from PIWOSA. It comprised a blind tasting competition for 25 top sommeliers, critics and wine professionals with an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa at stake. One top French wine was hidden in each of the five flights of South African wines, separated by variety, for participants to try and identify. The results saw not one person able to pick out all five French wines, and just two tasters identify four out of five correctly.

Rollo Gabb, Chairman of PIWOSA, said, “This was a tremendous event, with huge effort put in by participants. While we would have loved to have seen a winner, the results were yet another vindication that premium South African wines sit comfortably with their peers from the Old World (and New World) at the very, very best levels. “PIWOSA came to Hong Kong to challenge and change perceptions. We set out to test premium South African wine against some the very best in the world – against some of the finest French producers in top vintages. The fact that no-one could correctly identify these wines speaks volumes about the quality of our wines today.”

Ken Forrester, winemaker and owner of Forrester Wines, one of South Africa’s most highly regarded producers, remarked to attendees, “Finding the top quality French wines among the South African wines proved to be almost an impossible task! “We are going to take this forward as ‘The Judgement of Hong Kong’! This was the day when Hong Kong’s wine world came and said, “Really? That’s South African?” Yes! These are all South African!” Rollo Gabb, Chairman of PIWOSA, said, “This was a tremendous event, with huge effort put in by participants.

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PIWOSA Trade & Media Dinner

Following “Flight Club” a “Speed Dating”-style tasting took place, with members of the wine trade invited to taste 50+ wines presented by the winemakers themselves. Wine importers and beverage professionals were encouraged to taste wines on offer and interview the winemakers and representatives to determine perfect matches for their portfolios.

Also on the program was a Winemakers’ Dinner, where 9 winery owners shared their best wines for pairing with fusion cuisine at The Park Lane, A Pullman Hotel’s spectacular SKYE Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, attended by trade and media.

While South African Wine Week has become an annual event in Hong Kong for Wines of South Africa (WOSA), 2017 marked the debut for PIWOSA. While also part of the overall South Africa wine celebrations, this collective of premium wineries embarked on an exclusive program of events, focused on sharing South Africa’s emerging premium wine offering with the wine trade and media in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine and Director of Meiburg Wine Media, said, “The premium wine market in Asia has really experienced a surge in the past two years. By premium, we are talking about upper-middle market, great quality wines that offer tremendous value-for-money. These South African wines are the epitome of this – top producers, and superb wines. In fact, I am astounded at the value-for-money many of these wines offer.

“The portfolio of wines shared by PIWOSA’s member wineries yesterday offered a wonderful cross section on the diversity, quality and finesse of contemporary South Africa, which, I believe, has great potential in Asia, as we’ve seen it succeed across Europe and the UK in particular. “I have been going to South Africa nearly every year for 20 years, and even worked at a winery there. In recent years we have seen a huge change in the velocity, the approach, the sophistication and the purity of the wine that is coming out of South Africa, and that is what PIWOSA has really showcased. I can honestly say that South Africa has never produced wines so strong, so compelling, so evocative of this region as right now.”

PIWOSA’s Asia Tour will continue in Shanghai (27-28 April) and Tokyo (24-25 April), following the launch in Singapore on Monday (17-18 April). Singapore’s corresponding “Flight Club” saw just one sommelier win the prize of a trip to South Africa.

Profile of the family owned, boutique wineries participating in PIWOSA:

De Villiers Graaff, owner of De Grendel Wines
De Villiers Graaff, owner of De Grendel Wines

De Grendel, meaning latch or lock in Dutch, is one of Capte Town’s oldest farms, dating back to 1720. The Graaff family has been custodians of the land for five generations. The property stretches out over almost 330 hectares on the fynbos-covered slopes of Tygerberg Hill and offers breathtaking veiws of Table Mountain – con a clear day, you can see all the way from Table, Bay to False Bay, and sometimes even of to Cape Point! Cellar master Chares Hopkins combines the most modern winemaking techniques with a not to the farm’s heritage, eco-caring ethos and commitment to quality

Paul Cluver, owner of Paul Cluver Wines
Paul Cluver, owner of Paul Cluver Wines

Paul Cluver Estate Wines is one of the 12 First Growths of South Africa. They planted the first commercial vineyards and established the first wine cellar in the Eglin Vally, the coolest wine growing region in South Africa. Since 1896, the family owned and run estate has been instrumental in the success and recognition of this ward as a fine wine producing area. Through science, knowledge, passion and tiral, they carefully selected sites for the varieties and applied suitable winemaking techniques to produce terroir-expressive wines. This focus has resulted in a range of award-winning, aromatic whites and elegant Pinot Noirs. Mindful of the environment, this wine estate is dedicated to conservation into perpetuity. It has been awarded Biodiversity in Wine Champion status and forms part of the Kogelberg Biosphere, a World Heritage Site.

Kathy & Gary, owners of Jordan Wine Estate
Kathy & Gary, owners of Jordan Wine Estate

Gary and Kathy Jordan have been making wine since 1993 on their 165 ha hillside property with a grape-growing history going back over 330 years. Vineyard slopes face all directions to allow different grape varieties to excel. The ancient soils have evolved from 600 million year old granite and range from deep, well-drained clay-loam to gravelly and sandy soils situated on clay. Vineyard elevations are between 5000 and 1300 feet above sea level. The Indian Ocean lies 10 miles to the South with the Atlantic Ocean lying 15 miles to the West, allowing the Jordan family to specialize with classic varieties suited to the various micro-climates. The state-of-the-art cellar is designed around a gravity flow system using natural cooling with fermentation and ageing taking place in underground cellars.

Rollo Gabb, owner of Journey's End Vineyards
Rollo Gabb, owner of Journey's End Vineyards

Journey’s End Estate is a stunning boutique winery and vineyard located on the Schaapenberg Hills of Stellenbosch, recognized as some of the best terroir in South Africa. The estate benefits from south-facing slopes and cool coastal breezes, and is focused on small batch production of hand-crafted premium wines. Journey’s End combines traditional winemaking methods, modern technology and a degree of experimentation in a quest to produce dynamic, modern, fruit-driven wines. Committed to sustainable and environmentally sound farming practices, it is one of very few wine farms in South Africa to be entirely solar powered. Vineyards are situated on the coastal Schapenberg Hills of Stellenbosch which are predominantly granite. With average temperatures some 3-4 degrees cooler than Stellenbosch town, the vineywards benefit from cool coaster winds coming in off the Atlantic ocean, which help to produce elegant wines with good natural acidity.

Ken Forrester, owner of Ken Forrester Wines
Ken Forrester, owner of Ken Forrester Wines

In 1993, Ken Forrester and his wife Teresa set their hearts on a historic vineyard in the shadow of the Helderberg Mountain, the coastal edge of Stellenbosch. With the cool oceanic influence, they have played an integral part of the ongoing renaissance of Chenin Blanc, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre also thrive thanks to vineyards being influenced by a climate that mimics that of Mediterranean and Southern Rhone. Ken Forrester’s philosophy is to create a range of handcrafted, individually made wines that suitable complement a wide variety of food styles and provide excellent value, while their winery strives to manage vineyards in an organic, sustainable manner – they do not believe that stress is a good practice in the vineyards or in life! Flagship wines include The FMC, The Gypsy and T Noble Late Harvest, which have all been awarded high Platter’s stars and International rankings of 92, 93 and 94 point scores.

Hans Astrom, co-owner of Klein Constantia Vineyards
Hans Astrom, co-owner of Klein Constantia Vineyards

Described as one of the world’s most beautiful vineyards, Klein Constantia is situated on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg, with superb views across the Constantia Valley and False Bay. The 146 hectare wine estate originally formed part of the “Constantia”, a vast property established in 1687 by Simon van der Stel, the first governor of the Cape. This particular valley was chosen not only for its beauty, but also for the decomposed granite soil on its slopes, gently cooled by ocean breezes. Prized by leaders and aristocracy throughout 18th Century Europe, Constantia’s Vin de Constance was revived by Klein Constantia in 1986, reaffirming this unique natural sweet wine’s place in history. Today, Klein Constantia continues to make some of South Africa’s top wines and the world’s best dessert wine; wines that reflect the cool Constantia climate, as well as its historic tradition.

Alex Dale, owner of Radford Dale Wines
Alex Dale, owner of Radford Dale Wines

Radford Dale combines modern winemaking and traditional values to create some of the finest wines in the Cape. It’s all about quality, and their philosophy is simple; to produce reference South African wines with as little pretence and compromise as possible. At the cellar on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, they make wines using conventional, natural viticultural and winemaking methods as well as exploring new techniques and a little experimentation! They are also fully accredited for environmental, ethical, and social-upliftment practices. Radford Dale is a “Grand Crew” who want to make wine with a conscience. The team has a minimal intervention approach in the cellar. It’s all about the grapes and not stripping the wine of any natural components. The simple logic is the less you manipulate a wine, the better it is – and they therefore capture its integrity, energy and individuality.

Bruce Jack, owner of The Drift Farm
Bruce Jack, owner of The Drift Farm

The soul of this remarkable family farm is a collection of small, soil-specific mountain vineyards in the Overberg Highlands of South Africa. Their wines are lovingly crafted to represent the essence of this unique, serene place. A small, passionate team are responsible for every stage of the winemaking process; from caring for the vines to hand-made wines – even hand labelling the bottles. These wines aim to change the way you view the world. Bruce Jack grew up in Cape Town but studied winemaking in Australia. Viewed as a pioneer in the South African winemaking industry, Bruce has also made wine all over the world, including Bordeaux in France, Rioja in Spain and in California.

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anju
October 11, 2017
hii
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