Over the past decade there has been a quiet shift in the style of wines produced by South African winemakers; the heavy wood is gone and the rough tannins have been toned down. The past five years have seen a more pronounced shift towards elegance and style rather than acidity and bluster.
The green and spiky sauvignon blancs are starting to make way for crisp and clean chenins and the leathery merlots are moving over for the full-berried pinot noirs and fine, bubbled MCCs.
This begs the question: is this shift towards elegance because of changing consumer tastes or a change in the type of winemaker in SA?
The annual Stoep Tasting weekend, held annually in the lovely Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet at the end of May, is a great gauge of what the wine industry trends are and where they are heading. One of the key features of the event is that the festival organisers, the Karoo Wine Club, have always insisted that the wine estates and producers invited to participate have to send either the actual winemaker or the farm owner to represent their wines.
Not the usual marketing types, like at the other festivals, but the real...