Something has been happening in South Africa over the recent years. A wind of change. Much like the winds that blow through the vineyards we’ll be talking about below, it cannot be ignored.
People are drinking differently.
Let’s back up a bit. The wine landscape in South Africa has a rich history but a boring one. Big reds. Old school reds. Reds full of tannins that conjure up images of the farms they were made on. Colonial buildings with high gables. Thick carpets, massive fireplaces. Leather. A ridgeback. Two ridgebacks. A box of cigars, somewhere.
That’s changing though. The new age South African wine drinker is being introduced to much lighter styles and varietals like cinsault, grenache, gamay and pinot noir. There’s a fresh bunch of young-gun winemakers on the scene focused on channeling the real character of a vineyard into the end wine. You’re more likely to catch them surfing or building smokers in their backyard than perched in a cane chair on their porch.
One man responsible for this new wave is David Cope. Not content with just producing his own wine (the hugely popular Alphabetical; a red blend which has now spun off into a white and a rosé), David also runs Publik Wine Bar. From branches in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Publik sells wines that are interesting and delicious. This intersection is the holy grail for any serious wine drinker and Cope has nailed it. “That’s the sweet spot for us,” he confirms. “Either side of it and you’re left with something rather boring or something that is cool but compromised in terms of drinkability.” Unearthing these wines and introducing people to them is Publik’s greatest strength. Cope has a growing distribution business too, which has allowed open-minded restaurateurs to showcase a much larger range of wines.