Chicago City Winery Donovan Rall

Wines Of South Africa

Friday, November 04, 2016 Hiral Lloyd-Jones

Last week I attended a master class on wines originating from the lush countryside of South Africa at Chicago's City Winery. The images of South Africa shown at the master class truly brought back memories of my trip through the Garden Route and wine country in South Africa many years ago. 

Chicago City Winery 

The class was taught by Jim Clarke of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) and former wine director at Megu and Armani Ristorante in New York. WOSA represents over 500 wine producers who export their products, its directive is to promote the value and growth of South African wine abroad

Me with Jim Clarke and Donovan Rall

The wines presented exemplified the quality and diversity of South Africa’s burgeoning wine scene. Jim put each of the wines in context, discussing terroir, traditions, and current trends. He started off by educating us about the history behind South African wine and the nature of the landscape that contributes to the success of this industry. 

Some of the South African wines showcased
I suppose all of you are thinking Pinotage right now because of its origin being South Africa. Well apparently there is more to South African wine than Pinotage. Pinotage a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut makes up only 7.5% of the total wine grapes produced in the area. In the white wine category the top two grapes are Chenin Blanc at 18.2% and Colombard at 12% and red wine Cabernet Sauvignon at 11.3% and Shiraz at 10.5 %. 

I have tried Pilotage before, but have not been a fan. There were two Pinotage wines showcased, The Painted Wolf "Guillermo" Pinotage 2013 from the Swartland region and the Kanonkop Pinotage 2013 from the Stellenbosch region. My opinion was changed after I tried the Kanonkop Pinotage, I am no wine connoisseur and I won't be able to tell you if I tasted dark berries and chocolate or any of that "fru fru" stuff, all I can tell you was it was delicious. I should have asked them if they could send me a few bottles of the ones that I liked the most so that I could sip on them and review each one thoroughly. Point noted for next time "ask to take home a few bottles for review purposes". 

Getting excited to sample some South African Vino! 
The other Reds that I really liked were Luddite "Saboteur"2014 from the Walker Bay District and BlankBottle "Confessions of a White Glove Chaser" 2014 from the Stellenbosch region. If you are someone who loves a good story behind the creation of your purchase then you may want to look up BlankBottle "Confessions of a White Glove Chaser" 2014, Pieter Walser the founder of BlankBottle is quite an intriguing character.
Amongst the white wine selection I had two favorite ones, the Ken Forrester Old Vine ReserveChenin Blanc 2015 from the Stellenbosch region and the De Wetshof LimestoneHill Chardonnay 2015 from Robertson Valley.

De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2015

Donovan Rall, owner of Rall Wines was also presenting four wines; two from Rall Wines and two Vuurberg wines which are a product of Rall Wines. Donovan sources fruit from all over the cape but mainly from the Swartland region. 

Rall and Vuurberg Wine

Donovan started his business in 2008 with 6 barrels, today Rall Wines produces 1500 cases a year and exports to 16 countries. It is a small production winery emphasizing on the quality of their wine. Donovan Rall is a part of an organization called the Swartland Independent Producers, it was formed with like-minded wine producers in the Swartland region who want to promote wines that embody the true spirit of Swartland.

Donovan Rall at a Swartland Valley Vineyard

The wines presented by Donovan Rall were:
Rall White 2015 (blend of Chenin Blanc- Verdelho-Chardonnay-Viognier)
Rall Red 2014 (Swartland Independent Wine [Syrah-Grenache])
Vuurberg White 2015 (Chenin Blanc- Viognier-Semillon-Verdelho-Grenache Blanc-Rousanne)
Vuurberg Reserve Red 2012 (Cabernet Sauvignon-Petit Verdot-Merlot)

Since Christmas and Thanksgiving is around the corner you may want to give some of these wines a try either as a gift or to serve at the feast! 

Photographs courtesy of Leke Photography 

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