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New World Wine Maker Blog

Mix it up with wine mixers

Written by Geena Whiting. 

To some it may seem sacrilegious to mix wine with anything, yet for others the mixing of  red  wine with cola is standard practice. Although I myself fit into the first group of wine drinkers, I have explored my horizons with some delicious wine mixers/spritzers/cocktails. If you are as ready for your holiday as I am, you also need a bottomless cocktail on a beach somewhere. Cocktails/mixers can be quite pricey and I can’t be the only one who has thought “it would be cheaper just to make it myself”.  And you would be right! Here are a dew easy recipes for wine mixers for you to enjoy these holidays!

Ginger snap with a twist: A ginger lime spritzer

Ingredients:

10 cm piece of peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
60 ml of fresh lime juice
15 ml golden syrup
A bottle of your favourite brut sparkling white wine

Method:

Add ginger, lime and syrup to a blender with ½ cup of water and topped up with ice.
blend until the ice is broken into a beautiful slurry.
pour the mixture out in equal amounts into 4 large wine glasses.
pour your favourite bubbly over the ice mixture and enjoy!

We don’t drink pink drinks: rose cocktail

Ingredients

120ml  of dry / off dry  rosé
10 ml  gin
60  ml  ruby-red grapefruit juice
1 Grape fruit
1 rosemary sprig

Directions

Cut a slice of grape fruit and remove the skin and rind. Place it at the bottom of a lowball glass. Fill the glass ¾ full with crushed ice. Add the rose’, gin and grape fruit juice with a sprig of rosemary fir relish.

Keep it simple: White wine spritzer:

Ingredients:

1 bottle Chenin blanc or unwooded chardonnay
500 ml Soda water
75 ml Lime cordial

method:
mix together and serve!

This recipe is great because you can replace the cordial with fruit juice or use fruit bits such as pomegranate pieces to class up your drink.

It smells like Christmas: Glühwein:

1 bottle of bold dry red wine
1 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 large orange, sliced (pips removed)
1/2 cup sugar
4 whole cloves
1 nutmeg, about 10 gratings
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, halved

Directions:

Over medium heat in a medium sized pot, pour in sugar and and water, then add the slices of orange and the orange juice. Add the vanilla bean, cloves,  cinnamon stick, and nutmeg gratings. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour. The liquid will reduce, so after around 30 minutes, add in about a half cup of wine. This will make a syrup.

When your syrup is ready turn the heat down to low and pour in the bottle of wine. Bring back to a gentle simmer and heat for about 5 minutes or depending on how much alcohol you want to burn off you can simmer a bit longer. Ladle it into glasses and serve warm.
There are hundreds if not thousands of recipes to look at. With all of these the ratios can be altered and changed. Explore and be brave with your choices of fruit and wine cultivar.

Cheers!

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Grapevine Shoot Chips: A Novel Alternative to Oak Chips in Winemaking

The use of oak barrels in wine fermentation and aging increases wine aromatic complexity and improves overall quality. Despite a higher price tag, this technique is often used for red and some white wine aging. Due to higher costs, and other factors, many have sought alternatives that can produce a very similar style/quality wine at a fraction of the price. Most of you are already familiar with the use of oak chips in wine.  Oak chips are typically made from wood already utilized for wine barrels, and undergo similar toasting treatments to provide the aromas, flavors, and aging characteristics desired. Because of the increased surface area available by the small-sized chips, winemakers don’t need to use very many oak chips compared to the size of the barrel that would be needed to achieve comparable results.

Another way to impart oak flavors into wine, which isn’t as common but has been studied a bit in the literature, is oak extract application on grapes or grape vines. While studies have shown this sort of treatment may produce similar aromatic and sensory characteristics in the finished wine as a wood-aged treatment would, it’s likely just a way to get a “flavor now!” response and not a functional aging ability.

Of course, there are many other oak alternatives utilized in commercial especially home winemaking, but I won’t go into that now.

One new study, currently available online and to be published in print in October 2018 in the journal Food Chemistry, aimed to add one more potential oak alternative to the winemakers’ arsenal that I wasn’t expecting: grapevine shoots. Partially a response to growing demand for oak barrel alternatives, and partially a response to the amount of physical waste generated after the grape harvest, a team of Spanish researchers aimed to evaluate the use of grapevine shoot “chips” (toasted) as an alternative to oak chips in winemaking …

>> CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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In with the Old, Out with the New

The morning started out like any other mid-harvest’s would, grapes coming in by the ton, the press humming in the background as the shoosh of the crusher and destemer droned on throughout the cellar. After a few days of fermentation, the grenache blanc skin-fermented grapes, as well as two barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon had to be pressed. But with only one large 500l barrel and two 225l barrels to squeeze, the large presses could not be used.

Phone-a-friend is a very common and well adapted phrase in the wine industry, and so that’s just what the team did. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to source any kind of press mid-harvest, but let me tell you it certainly is not an easy task! At long last we had found one, graciously loaned to us by the University of Stellenbosch in exchange for a few bottles of MCC for the vinotique. A few hours later, the press had arrived and the commotion had started; I was still inside the cellar doing ballings – when your list of fermenting tanks reaches the second page, it tends to take a while to do.

As I had finished my routine sugar readings, I noticed a small crowd gathering outside of the cellar. I couldn’t help but wonder what all the fuss was about, being an inquisitive young student I couldn’t resist taking a peak. It was the press – but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. There stood an ancient basket press, wooden slates stained from what looked like a century’s worth of harvesting. Chipped fire-truck red rims revealed some wear and tear over its years of use, while the wooden stacking blocks’ slightly lighter shade of brown further alluded to this machine’s old age.

Right, now to assemble the bloomin’ thing. The wooden frame is first lifted up onto the metal base, while the small metal pegs are twisted and hooked into the sides. Okay, so now that the basket part is assembled, what next? It took a team of 4 men and one very confused student (me) to figure out that the twisting mechanism on top of the press needed to be moved up – it seems like a rather simple task but when you’re standing there wondering “how do we put these do-hikkies into the thingy?”, you realise this may take some time.

Eventually, we placed the slanted, dinged up metal slates into there slots that made the lever mechanism work. What next, though? You’d think that logic would tell you to put the actual lever arm into its socket, so that you can actually swing this whole mechanism up or down with the lever – but for some strange reason it took a solid 15 minutes of staring at the press to figure this out.

With the press assembled, all that was left was to pour the grapes into the basket and crank the lever; upon quick analysis of the press I soon realised I’d need to stack wooden blocks ontop of the circular wooden plates, in order to exert enough pressure onto the grapes. And so, the jenga-block like stacking began, four levels up we stopped and began to crank the lever. After about 30 minutes or so, you stop feeling anything in your shoulder which is great news, because you stop feeling the pain too!

After one or two slight over-flows we soon realised that you can’t crank the lever too quickly, unless you’d like to create something that resembles a mass berry homicide scene, with pulp and juicy bits squirting out everywhere. In the words of the tortoise (to the hare), “slow and steady wins the race”. After the first load was done, it took a further 20 minutes to figure out that I had to reverse the metal slates and crank the lever again, this time slightly faster, in order to move the pressing mechanism up again. After some struggling, I realised some grease or oil would be needed to make the slates slightly more mobile as the lever was cranked. Who needs gym when you can get a full arm workout at work?

Being a student, we are mostly taught how to use more modern technology as most cellars use electrically operated basket presses or large balloon/bag/pneumatic presses. I feel that, although learning the new world winemaking techniques is incredibly beneficial to the younger generation of winemakers, it was refreshing to be reminded of how winemaking was done back in the day. There’s nothing like a day of good, old-fashioned pressing to humble you and bring you closer to the rich history and heritage that winemaking holds. When the machines fail, it’s a handy skill for any winemaker to know how the older technology and older techniques used in winemaking work. It’s also a lot more hands on and personal, your wine truly starts to feel like something you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into – figuratively of course (I don’t think SAWIS would approve in a more literal sense). Out with the new and in with the old (but only sometimes…); it was an incredibly valuable learning experience for me.

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50 SHADES OF ROSÉ

Oh my…it’s so big….the growth of rosé wine popularity that is.

rosé
ˈrəʊzeɪ/
noun

any light pink wine, coloured by only brief contact with red grape skins.

“a glass of rosé”

Such a simple and one-dimensional definition for a complex, diverse and let’s be honest, sexy product. Pale onion-skin orange to almost purple; still, semi sparkling or sparkling; sweet to bone-dry; this genre of wine is as diverse as the cultivars you can use to make it.

The production numbers at a glance…

  1. global rosé production: approx. 25 million hL
  2. accounts for approx. 10% of still wine production
  3. 80% of production: France, Spain, United States and Italy

Increase in rosé production since 2002:

  1. South Africa: 200%
  2. Chile: 400%
  3. Australia: 450%

The consumption numbers at a glance…

  1. global rosé consumption: approx. 23 million hL
  2. 20% increase in rosé consumption since 2002
  3. France and US: consume approx. half of global rosé production

Increase in rosé consumption since 2002:

  1. United Kingdom: 250%
  2. Sweden: 750%
  3. Canada: 120%
  4. Hong Kong: 250%

Call it what you will…a French rosé, a Spanish rosado, an Italian rosato or a German roséwein…this blush-coloured phenomenon has shaken off the frumpy “sweet and unsophisticated” persona and slipped into something a little bit more comfortable…the new crisp, dry and fruit-driven style of rosé taking the market by storm.

The three major rosé production methods, maceration, saignée and blending, will provide you with different styles and colour of rosé wines.

During the maceration method, the grapes are destined primarily for rosé production and the maceration period can differ significantly according the shade and intensity of rosé being produced. This method is popular for commercial rosé production. The saignée or bleeding method sees you remove some of the juice from the red wine production process to produce rosé and at the same time intensify the colour and tannin concentration of the red wine being produced. This method usually results in darker and more savoury rosé styles. The final method, blending, is less popular and more regulated in certain rosé producing areas like France, where white wines are enriched with coloured musts to produce a rosé wine. A less common method is that of vin gris, where the rosé is produced by the immediate pressing of red grapes without any skin contact. This method is generally practised on lighter coloured varieties like Cinsaut, Gamay noir, Pinot noir and Grenache.

So what makes a good rosé? The style that is gaining in popularity is that of a clean, fruit forward wine with crisp acidity, where freshness and complexity is balanced. To produce this, there are a couple of key factors:

  1. Light touch
  2. Gentle handling of the fruit
  3. Short and light press cycle
  4. Cold settling
  5. Fermenting at cool temperatures to retain aromatic compounds
  6. Use a dedicated yeast and enzyme combination to enhance bright, rich, fruity flavours

The style of rosé’s produced with these different methods, despite coming in a veritable rainbow of pink shades, can vary anywhere from light and mineral-like, to round and floral and rich and savoury. From a visual point of view, you can expect anything from a pale onion-skin hue, interspersed with salmon, rose, coral, watermelon coloured wines, all the way to the cherry and ruby red offerings. Rosé really has an outfit for every occasion…

With so many styles of rosé, differing in colour, sweetness, bubbles and aroma, you are sure to find the one that makes you blush!

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Meet Riandri Visser, Winemaker at Cape Point Vineyards

Q. When and where were you born ? 

“I was born in Bellville Cape Town on 29th November 1989.”

Q. Where did you study and what qualification do you have ? 

“I did winemaking and viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural College and qualified in 2012.”

Q. Do you consider your winemaking to be different to others ? 

A very positive answer. “Yes, I believe each winemaker  has a unique approach  to winemaking  because  we were all  influenced  and inspired by  wines, cellars and winemakers, and educational institutions at different times. Techniques  are changing , products are changing  and don’t forget  our climate is changing.”

Q. How involved do you get in the vineyard ?

“Very involved  but not nearly as much as  I want to. I am in the vineyards every day. I have a very good relationship with our farm manager and our farm workers. It is important  to be involved  in every decision  and to physically work with your vines in order to manage your wine.”

Q. Do you have any varieties you prefer to work with ? 

“Yes I do, but I also prefer  to work with other varieties  depending on which areas they come from. I work  mostly with Sauvignon Blanc, I respect  the variety  and wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t enjoy working with it.”.

Q. Have you been influenced by any particular winemaker or region ?

“Yes, seeing that I work with Sauvignon Blanc, I would say Sancerre has had a great impact.”

Q. What would you consider your greatest achievement as a winemaker ?

“Gaining the trust of my team.”

Q. What “secrets” have you “developed” that make your  wines different to others ? 

“At Cape Point Vineyards We focus on two varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. We have a unique terroir , it is cool and windy and our vines are very close to the ocean and this makes our wines different . It is no secret that we use  the two varieties together.”

Q. How important is modern winemaking equipment in your winemaking ? 

“It is very important.  We work with Sauvignon Blanc and it is a time sensitive grape, so we need to work quickly. We don’t have fancy  set up , we just have equipment  that will help us express the best qualities in our wines.”

Q. You mentioned that Sancerre was influential in your development. How did that happen ? 

“I completed my degree at Elsenburg in 2012 and travelled with a few classmates  through Burgundy, Loire, Sancerre, Champagne and Germany. It was an educational trip  to taste and experience international wines. I have been back to Sancerre  on a more focussed trip visiting various producers.”

Q. What other wineries have you worked at ?

“On returning from Europe I worked at Piekenierskloof and the in Stellenbosch before joining  Cape Point Vineyards in 2014. As for the future  I would love to continue my studies in wine and taste as many wines as possible. However I need to earn an income.  The studies and experience will come.”

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Excitement around the SA Young Wine Show 2018

The 2018 harvest is out. It was comprised of sweat, tears, hard work and promises good quality wines. Winemakers can enter their best young wines to participate in the Young Wine Show. As winemakers taste and filter through their young wines, they might even discover a South African Champion.

This prestigious event and show dates back to 1833. South African wine making regions like Robertson, Worcester, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Oranje-Vaal, Olifants River, Swartland and Little Karoo are allowed to enter their wines in the competition.

Each year Agri Expo, the host and sponsors of this event, invites students from the university of Stellenbosch to attend not only the wine tasting of the best young wines but also the prize-giving gala event. The event took place on the 25th of August and I was one of the lucky nine students that got invited to attend.

I knew it was time to prepare my palate for some good wines and to put on my best dress and heels. For weeks my class mates and I waited for the event to come with childlike excitement. Finally, the event was about to start and exceeded my wildest expectations within the first five minutes.

We arrived, humble and excited at the Town Hall in Stellenbosch and found ourselves seated amongst the most respected winemakers and connoisseurs in South Africa. We enjoyed some of the best wines and the most exquisite gourmet meal. It was magical.

By the end of the night, just before dessert, winners were announced. Judges were tasked to taste 1 680 different wines, out of which 165 titles were chosen, including SA Champion wines, class winners and gold medals. Wellington wines’ wooded Pinotage claimed the General Smuts trophy and is thus the best young South African wine of the 2018 harvest. Orange River cellars’ Keimoes received the highest points for all five their wines entered and walked away with the Pietman Hugo Trophy.

South African Champion trophies were awarded to farms like Bon Courage for their Natural Sweet white wine as well as their Noble late harvest. De Wetshof Chardonnay, Spier wines’ wooded Chenin Blanc and La Motte’s Semillion were the white wine champions.

Young red wine champions of 2018 were all wooded wines and included wines from Babylonstoren Stellenbosch Hills, Darling Cellars, Le Bonheur Estate and KWV.

Needless to say, dessert was delicious. The evening ended with inspirational speeches and a good shuffle on the dance floor. The 2018 BSc Viticulture and Oenology class left the event feeling enriched, inspired and excited for their futures in the industry. It was good to see that it’s not all just gumboots and stained hands, but also glamorous and enriching.

I am proud to be part of such an industry where farms all receive an equal chance to showcase the fruits of their hard labour. It is no secret that the 2018 harvest was a challenging one, but good faith and perseverance turned this harvest into a championship harvest. The Young Wine show of 2018 was truly an unforgettable event.

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