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Ou Suipie Se Hoek

Ou Suipie is, quite simply, delighted.

He told you before about the wonderful wine maker Lucinda Heyns, of Illimis Wines, how he found a bottle of her Cinsault at the Cavern Hotel in the Berg.

Sone winemakers seem to have a particular affinity for specific varietals, which makes sense. Producing Bacchus’s Finest from scratch is a long and tricky business. It starts with the grapes itself. Technically it might all be there, the sugars are good, acid looks fine, it’s ripe; but should it be picked now? How to treat it? Whole bunch press? How to ferment it? Stainless steel, amphoras, open concrete, new or old oak, what size barrels?

That is just for starters, because throughout the process you have to watch it carefully. Abingdon’s Ian Smorthwaite was saying that he had two blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon, very close to each other. The one had high sugars but low phenolic ripeness. The other had low sugars and high ripeness. He thinks this may be due to different soil types. So there is something else: as the roots go further down how does the soil change? So how does changing climactic conditions affect that?

And each varietal is different. It is no surprise then that some winemakers have their own special one.

Suipie is wondering if Lucinda’s is not Cinsault. That is not on account of that lllimis only, but rather a new one of hers that he has just tried.

There is an on-line supplier called Cape Collective. They have a wine called Rad Red, which is a Cinsault made by Lucinda.

The bottle itself comes wrapped in paper, with everything you may need to know written on it. This is a very attractive way of saving the cost of labelling, and it looks awfully smart. The star though is the wine. It is light in colour, presumably very little skin contact then, you might describe it as pale red. Mind you, Cinsault is generally light in colour anyway. It has an almost orange rim which might make you think it is older than it is (it’s actually a 2018).

This grapes themselves come from Darling. It has a lovely floral and cherry aroma on the nose, but an almost meaty taste to it. Only 11.5% alcohol, which is very nice indeed, this is a true gem of a wine, a complete delight to drink. It made Suipie really very happy indeed, and that, dear reader, after all is the only reason why wine should be drunk.

Suipie loves the way Cinsault has moved from being a jack of all trades, a blending work horse of the South African Wine Industry, into something rather special. Maybe it always had that potential but if so Suipie only came across this fairly recently. Even so, you do have to look out for these, because it seems that not all that many wineries are going this route. Suipie wonders if perhaps this may be nothing more than a need to advertise. Not many people seem to think of Cinsault, as a premium varietal. It is particularly heat resistant and does not need too much water, so it can be grown in quantity. Quality however requires restricted production, so obviously the price goes up.

What it really needs is consumer demand, so to all of you out there: spread the good news!

Many of us think of autumn in the Cape when the leaves of the vines are dying off and you get that glorious red all over the place. In fact this is actually not good at all, because it usually signifies the presence of a virus called leafroll. It is something that affects vines all over the world. It is usually transmitted by an insect called mealybug. Once infected, the only way to get rid of it is to pull out the vines and replant. When you remember that it takes three years to produce fruit this a serious and maybe last option.

One way to minimise the spread is apparently by introducing insects that feed on the mealybugs themselves. Suipie does not know if this really effective or even practical, but it certainly seems preferable to insecticides!

Suipie read a report presented by Lucinda where she said that it was clear that leafroll infected vines produced grapes fewer in number and lower in quality. It also reduces the lifespan of the vines themselves.

Anyway, it does rather look as though the leafroll infection in the Cape is spreading,

So, what the long-term effects on the industry will be Suipie does not know. All that

can be said is that we should be aware of this!

Talking of long term, Suipie has a Theory. Suipie has lots of these, most of them

quite ridiculous, but hey, he does not usually urge them on anyone else, not before

the second bottle anyway.

Anyway, and without that particular assistance, Suipie reckons that European

weather conditions are usually mimicked the following season here. It seems to

work that way round, in other words they don’t copy ours.

OK, what prompted this was the late frosts that hit France in April, as well as Italy.

The full impact is not yet clear, but the French Government is apparently talking

about declaring a national disaster and an aid package of €1billion.

They have had a cold winter there, so lets see what happens in the next few months


Extreme conditions in Europe are not uncommon. Some are saying that this frost

was the worst they can remember. Trees were frozen. One comment was that

because it was too early for moisture to have formed in the buds, they were brittle

like glass, and simply cracked. Well, Suipie reckons we will all just have to wait

and see then.

Curiously enough, Suipie had been reading about a move in Burgundy to start

replacing vines with new rootstock, with higher acid and lower sugars, in reaction

to climate change. Their 2020 harvest was one of the earliest on record, due to

unusually warm conditions, a trend that has been noticeable there for a while now.

There is even, shock horror, some thought of reintroducing vines that have largely

been discontinued because of difficulties in achieving ripeness, even (wait for it)

bringing in varietals such as Cabernet Franc from Bordeaux.

But Suipie has immense confidence in French winemakers. It will take more than

a few irritants, and obstacles from Mother Nature to change the tradition of their

wines! Cabernet in Burgundy? Pah!

Finally, in case any of you happened not to see this, a bottle of the famous Grand

Constance 1821 was recently sold in the Cape for R 420 000.00. There are

believed to be only 12 bottles of this left in the world, and is thought to have been

from an allocation meant for Napoleon Bonaparte on St Helena. The label reads

that it was “decante en 1883” whatever that means and for the auction it was re-

corked with a special unique number to guarantee authenticity.

Napoleon died on 5 May 1821 so he never got to sample this vintage. It is said

that his last request was for a glass of his beloved Vin de Constance.

As good a way to go as any, Suipie thinks.

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