Chenin Blanc pioneer Ken Forrester has spoken out about South Africa’s obsession with Bordeaux blends, believing the country’s future lies with Rhône varieties.
“We’re so obsessed with Bordeaux blends in South Africa, but Rhône varieties is where we should be headed,” Forrester told the drinks business at Cape Wine 2012 in Cape Town last week.
“We have the ideal climate for them, with our coastal setting, long dry summers and the influence of the Mistral. If you look at the things that thrive where we are, like lavender and tomatoes, it’s the same as the Mediterranean.
“South Africa is very remote from the world market in many ways. Our winemakers should be leading the way not following the pack. It’s important for us to experiment and try to make unique, terroir-driven wines,” he added.
Forrester used Cape Wine as a launch pad for his foray into Rhône varieties, debuting the inaugural 2011 vintage of his barrel fermented Roussanne at the fair.
Forrester’s inaugural barrel fermented Roussanne
A name for the wine has yet to be decided, but he told db he wasn’t ruling out the idea of calling it The FMR, in a nod to his top Chenin Blanc, The FMC.
“Roussanne is one of the great white gapes of the Rhône, and I thought it would be interesting to see how we went with it.
“There’s not a lot of local knowledge about white Rhône varieties yet, but I wanted to see what kind of a wine I could make from seven-year-old vines.
“It’s very different to Chenin in terms of structure, flavour profile and acidity levels, which are much lower,” he said.
Though famous for his single varietal Chenin Blanc, Forrester admitted that his desert island wine would be a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
“Blending is like a second chance – it’s an opportunity to fill in the gaps,” he said.