Liverpool gets the lowdown on SA wine

Neil Pendock July 4, 2012 3

Andrew Campbell is wine columnist on the Liverpool Echo and his latest column on SA wine supplies a fascinating vignette of how the home town of the Beatles views SA wine.


“SOUTH Africa’s wine industry dates back to 1659 when the founder of Cape Town produced his first brew.

With so much history the country’s wine-making should have flourished yet Apartheid plunged the industry into international isolation. Since the fall of white rule, South African wine-making – still mainly based around Cape Town – has improved dramatically with a programme of vine improvement and the country is once again producing world-class vintages.

One of the country’s very oldest producers, Boschendal from the Western Cape, is a familiar sight on our supermarket shelves. Tesco is selling their Lanoy Cabernet sauvignon 2010 reduced by £2 to £6.99 until July 17. It has an earthy nose of berry and spice with rich flavours and a fair amount of tannin. It’s a Decanter Bronze medallist though its complexity may not appeal to some.

Chenin blanc remains South Africa’s most planted grape variety but sauvignon blanc accounts for nearly 10% of vines and is the second most planted white grape. Tesco is selling Firefinch sauvignon blanc 2011 from South Africa’s Robertson region at £7.29 – reduced by £2 until July 17. Made by Springfield Estate, it’s typically New Zealand in style with smooth and moderately intense flavours of ripe tropical fruit and grapefruit. It’s good but better New Zealand sauvignons are available at the price.

A couple of months ago I raved about Tesco’s Finest Voor Paardeberg roussanne 2011, made by Boschendal in South Africa’s Paarl region. At the time it was reduced to £5.99. Well there’s even better news: the rich, complex wine with flavours of peach and pineapple is now reduced to a too-good-to-leave-on-the-shelves £4.49.”

Some points for marketers to ponder:

Jan van Riebeeck’s first vintage was a “brew.”
SA winemaking is still mainly based around Cape Town.
Boschendal seems to have lost the terroir battle with its appellation the all embracing Western Cape.
The complexity of the Lanoy Cabernet “may not appeal to some.”
A Robertson Sauvignon Blanc is criticized as being worse value for money than Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.
Voor Paardeberg has yet to emerge from the shadow of the Paarl appellation.

Let’s hope WOSA adds Andrew to its list of invitees for Cape Wine 2012.


  1. pinto July 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm -

    This is the tip of the iceberg as far as “interesting” perceptions of SA are concerned, but to the author’s defence, the New Zealand glut of recent years has indeed landed some pretty strong stuff in the shape of one-off labels on northern shop shelves so you need to forgive him that one. And, we all probably know what he means by “too much complexity” on that Cab Sauv and better discreet than name the aroma that dares not speak its name. But hell, good news for Tesco suppliers!

  2. Neil Pendock July 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm -

    Fair comment, Pinto

    I’m just back from Shanghai and have renewed respect for SA wine marketers trying to get the message across.

  3. Peter F May July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm -

    £7.29 after £2 discount for Springfields bought in grapes Firefinch SB? I buy the Springfield Life from Stone from their own vineyard at normal price of £9.99.

    At the Firefinch discounted price there’s knock-out competition from NZ’s superb ‘The Ned’ at £6.99 and Brancott (ex Montana) also at £6.99 discounted at Majestic — both brands have good reputation here and there’s much good NZ SB at lower prices.

    The article is correct there’s better value from NZ at that price.

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