Compare/Contrast: South Africa and France

This week we will sample three wines from South Africa and three from France, of similar grape variety/style, but quite different in taste and terroir. Altogether there will be two Sauvignon Blancs, two Chenin Blancs, and two Syrah-based- one rose and one red. We are excited to present this line-up, as the South African wines are brand-new to our selection, and the French wines are some of our favorites. In addition, we have a great “bonus wine” to open- a single-vineyard, small-production Syrah from Northern California from Copain Winery.

The South African wines are imported by Cape Floral Importers, a company specializing in cool-climate South African “wine farms that look to biodiversity and sustainability to produce a fresh, clean, unique, and pure style of wine.”

Two of the French wines are imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, an outstanding importing company owned by Neal Rosenthal specializing in limited-production, family-owned and operated, traditionally and organically produced wines.

And the last French wine is imported by William-Harrison Imports, who “represents the finest wines of Western Europe and South America” and believes “in slow and steady growth with the wines [they] represent.”


Beaumont is a charming family-run farm and winery situated in the quaint Overberg village of Bot River. The farm – home to the region’s oldest wine cellar – is steeped in history, dating back to the 1700s. A visit to Beaumont is a romantic escape into a timeless world where tradition is a way of life.

The Beaumont family crest reads “Erectus non Elatus” – which means proud but not arrogant – and this approach carries through to everything we do.

In the 1970s, after decades of dormancy, Raoul and Jayne Beaumont again planted vines on the farm’s ancient shale soils and the historic wine cellar with its antique machinery was revived to start producing an artisanal range of wines that reflect the unique terroir of the Bot River Valley. A deep understanding of our soils and vines through these decades of experience is the bedrock of our approach.

Our primary goal is to make wines that are true to Bot River and we are fortunate in having older vineyard blocks that accurately express the Bokkeveld shale soils. We also have great diversity in the aspects and slopes on the farm, ideal for different grape varieties. Summer temperatures are kept moderate with regular afternoon sea breezes from cold Atlantic currents and this results in good, long ripening periods, ideal for producing fine wine.

Beaumont Chenin Blanc 2012– Bot River, Walker Bay, South Africa. “100% Chenin Blanc from vines ranging between 8 & 37 years for the 3 different sites. Early picking to preserve freshness, also resulting in low alcohol. A very slow and cool fermentation separately with different yeast strains for more complexity and then blended after fermentation. Maturation: average of 6 months on gross lees in tank. The 2012 Chenin Blanc was made from 100% Bot River fruit, capturing the full flavour and the potential our terroir has to offer. Following on from the successful 2011 vintage, that won us our first 4 and a half star rating in Platter, the 2012 vintage is full of fresh fruit and has a very vibrant palate. Lovely fresh tropical fruit aromas flow onto a crisp, fresh palate with a perfect balance between the acidity and sweetness, giving the wine extra length. Great with seafood, especially shellfish, chicken dishes and spicy Thai style food.” Imported by Cape Floral Importers. $17.99


“From the spectacular playground of the whales in the heart of South Africa’s celebrated Walker Bay Wine Appellation comes a wine reflecting its proud maritime origins. The South African Whale Pod launch aptly coincided with the Whale Festival in September 2010 and since then the wines have earned wide acclaim. A unique aspect of the Whale Pod range is that every vintage is made and blended at the winemaker’s discretion and therefore promises a new surprise.

The story of Creation Wines is as old as the hills – dating back to when Mother Nature created South Africa’s beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde and bestowed upon it exceptional winegrowing conditions. At the same time, our story is as young as the vibrant team who since 2002 has been investing their talents to create a wine range of great distinction.”

Creation Whale Pod Sauvignon Blanc 2012– Western Cape, South Africa. “Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 15°C, without malolactic fermentation. Matured on fine lees for 5 months. Star bright and subtle green with inviting aromas of guava, passion fruit and Cape gooseberry. Whiffs of grapefruit and peach stone add to the attraction. On the palate the wine rewards with lovely crisp acidity and a hint of salty minerals.” “Pale straw yellow in colour with twinkling flashes of green. A superbly balanced wine beckoning with aromas of tropical fruit, elegant elderflower and interesting, minerally whiffs. These follow through on the full-bodied palate where crisp, well-integrated acidity adds to the allure and leads to a lingering, memorable aftertaste.” Imported by Cape Floral Importers. $16.99


“The Goose Wine Estate is based in the unique Upper-Langkloof valley, nestled behind the Outeniqua Mountains on the picturesque Garden Route of South Africa. The valley is known for its dry and cold climate, with strong and cool summer breezes.  As one of the coldest wine-growing areas in the country, it is ideal for producing grapes of great elegance and structure.

The name on the Farm’s Title Deed is “Ganzekraal”, which means “Goose Enclave”.  Now, more than 100 years later, PGA Champion golfer Retief Goosen was introduced to partner Dr. Werner Roux and together they started the new company, The Goose Wines.

What’s Good for The Goose is Good for The Gander. Retief Goosen has added a fresh new blend of Upper-Langkloof and Western Cape wines to compliment The Goose wine range. The select blends create a brand new style of zesty, exciting, balanced and fruity wines. The Gander wines are easy drinking, everyday wines, more affordable and presented in convenient screw-cap bottles, made to be enjoyed.”

The Goose ‘The Gander’ Shiraz 2010– 50% Wine of Origin Upper Langkloof, 50% Wine of Origin Swartland, South Africa. 100% Shiraz. 50% second [use] and 50% third [use] French Oak barrels for 18 months. An exciting blend of Upper-Langkloof and Swartland grapes, it is a red ine of great elegance and structure. The nose is full bodied with blackcurrant, ripe cherry, spices, chocolate and subtle cigar box undertones. The prominent dark fruits and savoury notes of the warm climate Swartland blends perfectly with the expressive spice from the cool-climate Upper-Langkloof. The tannins are soft and ripe and the wine has a long, clean aftertaste with enough tannic grip to promise a good few years maturation potential.” “Juicy, ripe fruit on the nose. Spice, chocolate and black fruit dominate with some wood spice. Smooth tannins and long, clean aftertaste. Gentle oak treatment ensure fruit forward wine with enough legs to mature a good 5 years.” Imported by Cape Floral Importers. $17.99


Neal Rosenthal says of Chateau Soucherie: “The Chateau Soucherie may be the most physically beautiful property of all the domaines with which we work.  The house itself is a unique architectural gem that sits on a rise overlooking the vineyards that snake down towards the Layon river.  My first visit at the estate was in early 1982, a frigid, damp day that I will remember forever.  I was exploring the truly verdant slopes and valleys of the Layon region, intensely “green” no matter the season, in search of that special regional version of Chenin Blanc that, at its best, can be one of the most compelling of wines.  My research led me to Soucherie and I was greeted by the ebullient presence of the proprietaire, Pierre-Yves Tijou.  On that cold day, with the winter chill surging through the earth and cement floor of the chai installing itself deep in my bones, the warmth and graciousness and simple good cheer of Monsieur Tijou leavened the frost and coddled the body. Thirty years later we remain friends.

That day I was introduced to the complex and savory nature of these wines born of the Layon and its marriage to the noble Chenin Blanc.  For every year since, we have been engaged with this magnificent domaine and its dry and sweet versions of wines of the Coteaux du Layon and of Savennieres.  As well, there are the simple and satisfying reds and rosés that render the fruits of the local Cabernet Franc and Grolleau … overall a quite complete vinous experience.”

Chateau Soucherie Anjou Blanc 2011– Anjou, Loire Valley, France. “This cuvée is essentially vinified exclusively for our use in the US market.  The grapes, 100% Chenin Blanc, are sourced from the vineyard site “Les Rangs de Longue” which is on the northern part of the estate but with south-southeastern exposure.  The soil is a mix of clay and sand and limestone with some schist. The wine is vinified totally dry in cuve and aged on the fine lies for eight to nine months before being bottled.  Approximately 12,000 bottles per annum are produced for the US market.” Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant. $17.99


“The Château is situated in the communes of Grézillac and Daignac in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, about 8 miles due south of Libourne. Planted half to white grapes and half to red, the domaine encompasses over 48 hectares (about 72 acres) of vineyards. Owned for five generations by the Large family, their passion and experience have lead them to respect traditional methods of vinification, aging an agriculture while embracing modern controls and techniques to improve the quality and consistency of their wines.

The different stages of vinification allow them to elaborate a wine excellent fruit and balance from their grapes. After a three to six hour cold maceration to preserve the fresh aromas and flavors from the juice and the skin, the grapes are then pressed. Following a cold stabilization to clear the wine, the fermentation proceeds between 15 and 18 degrees Centigrade in temperature-controlled vats. The wine is kept 3 months in vat on the lees before release.”

Chateau Larmevaille Bordeaux Blanc 2011– Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France. “This refreshing wine has a delightful aromatic nose with hints of citrus, mineral, and a touch of white flowers. It differs from our other white Bordeaux in that it consists of 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% each of Semillon and Muscadelle, giving a richer mid-palate, with lots of texture and a good dose of minerality. On the finish it is very clean and refreshing.” Imported by William-Harrison Imports. $14.99


Neal Rosenthal says of Mas Cal Demoura: “In 1970, when there was a great exodus from the Languedoc due to a loss of faith in its vineyards to provide a sufficient living, Jean-Pierre Jullien named his domaine “Cal Demoura”, which in Occitan means “one must remain”. He came from a long line of vignerons and, at that time, he followed most of his colleagues as they closed their caves and attempted to survive by participating in the local cooperative. Jean-Pierre’s son, Olivier, refused to follow the path of the cooperative and established his own domaine, the “Mas Jullien”, in 1985…

The estate now encompasses eleven hectares of vineyards located in the village of Jonquières and in the neighboring community of Saint Felix, approximately 45 minutes (30 kilometers) northwest of Montpellier, just south of Clermont l’Hérault. They are situated in the heart of the Terrasses du Larzac, an independent subdivision within the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC that was recognized in 2004 for its distinctive ability to render wines of exceptional balance and depth due to the special micro-climate in which it is located. The vineyards feature five red grape varieties in approximately equal parts: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault…

[Isabelle and Vincent] are committed to producing wines that respect the environment from which they come, and express both their terroir, and the personality of the winemaker. In the vineyard, the Goumards treat organically and harvest manually. Harvest levels are approximately 30 hectoliters per hectare and sometimes considerably less.  There is a double selection done at harvest to secure only the ripest, healthiest grapes, once in the vineyard and a second time in the chai before pressing… In the cellar, they practice a classic vinification. Each grape variety is harvested and vinified separately… [The wines are] bottled without fining or filtration. Production is approximately 40,000 bottles per year.”

Mas Cal Demoura Rose 2012– Languedoc, France. “A rich, expressive and aromatic rosé, the Qu’es Aquo is made in the same spirit as the domaine’s red wines, using the same five cépages – Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan – but in a different blend that favors Cinsault and Syrah. The rosé is saignée and vinified like a white wine to emphasize its aromatics. Note, however, that the Qu’es Aquo is a substantial, full-bodied rosé that performs exceedingly well at the table and expresses proudly its roots in this special part of the Languedoc.” Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant. $20.99

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