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Graham Howe - Interview with wine.co.za - Cape South Coast wine region

Graham Howe - Interview with wine.co.za - Cape South Coast wine region
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As a relatively new wine region the Cape South Coast has the freedom to experiment with pockets of terroir and to specialize in signature varieties. The region favours diversity and varies from area to area and farm to farm. Our interview with Graham Howe shows what sets this region apart and some of their best wines.

Do you have a favourite wine from the Cape South Coast region?

There are too many to mention! I do think Creation in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is a showcase for wine tourism – their stunning food and wine pairing menus have made the winery a world-class, stand-alone destination – and their portfolio of classic Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot – as well as great Rhone blends are a stand-out. I rarely pass their way without calling in to catch up on newer vintages and innovations.  I also love the delicious MCCs produced by Charles Fox, Domaine des Dieux and Genevieve in this region.

What makes the CSC unique as a wine region in SA?

The cool-climate, maritime climate in many of these regions produces elegant, delicate wines with a distinct minerality which give expression to the terroir, eg the scintillating intensity of Sauvignon Blanc from Black Oystercatcher, Strandveld, Lomond and Ghost Corner. The strength of each district and ward is that the hero white and red varieties change from say the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley or Elgin ( with signature Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) to Elim (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon) or Bot River (Shiraz and Rhone blends).  Or the world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Ataraxia, Creation, Hamilton Russell, Newton Johnson and Bouchard Finlayson in Walker Bay.

Are there any misconceptions about the region, and if so what are they?

I think the Cape South Coast Region is too big and diverse a region to generalize about – to understand the region,  it’s better to break it down into individual districts or wards, and look at the strengths of say, Bot River, Elim, Stanford, Napier and Hemel-en-Aarde. Where do you fit Raka which grows and makes great Bordeaux varieties and blends – or Jean Daneel who make great Chenin inter alia? Or the innovative, creative white and red blends of Springfontein in Stanford?

Are there any varieties that you think are best suited to being grown in the CSC?

Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends are a stand-out among white varieties – along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The region favours diversity and varies from area to area and farm to farm – there are also stunning examples of Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage wines from producers like Beaumont, Luddite and Wildekrans. Or the stunning Rieslings of Paul Cluver. As a relatively new wine region, they have the freedom to experiment with pockets of terroir and to specialize in signature varieties.

Is there a winery from the region that you think deserves more attention?

I visited Gabrielskloof in Bot River for the first time recently – I loved the authentic country farmhouse feel of the restaurant and tasting room, the incredible views of yellow canola fields and mountains. The twin sandstone and shale Syrah landscape labels really express the terroir – as do the standout SSB and Chenin Blanc. For a day out in the country, this dry-stone wine farm on a hill with an olive press in the old sheep shed is the real thing – and the wholesome country breads, olive oils and big meaty fare just what you’d expect in wheat and sheep farm country. Don’t miss it if you’re heading out on the N2 – its’ perfectly located to catch wine tourism trade