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Waitrose launches its first Old Vine Project wine from South Africa

Upmarket retailer Waitrose has become the first UK supermarket to launch a wine certified by South Africa’s ‘Old Vine Project’, which was officially unveiled in 2017 as a way to protect the country’s old vines.

The retailer has added a Kaapzicht Kliprug Chenin Blanc 2019 (RRP: £13.99), a wine made from vines planted in 1982, in the culmination of a two year project to gain a South African Certified Heritage Vineyards (CHV) seal from the Old Vine Project. The certification guarantees authentic wines made from vineyards aged more than 35 years old.

Waitrose buyer Victoria Mason said it had been an exciting project to work on with the team at Kaapzicht. “We always strive to offer our customers a point of difference and old vines are great at reflecting the terroir of the region whilst also showcasing the vast and varied landscape of South Africa,” she said.

“In what has been an incredibly difficult year for the South African wine industry – we are so excited to be celebrating a fantastically unique and delicious wine which will hopefully be the first of many carrying the Old Vine Project seal.”

Saving old vines

The project originated in 2002, when viticulturist Rosa Kruger began the painstaking job of hunting down and recording old blocks of vines across South Africa in a bid to preserve as many old vines in South Africa as possible. Other producers soon joined the cause and in 2014 Kruger, with help from the South African Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS), unveiled a website cataloguing old vineyards.

As previously reported by the drinks business the OVP’s main task is to find vines that are at least 35-years-old and, if they are good enough to produce wine, have them certified. The certification, which first applied for the 2017 vintage, can help ensure the future of old vines by ensuring they are financially viable and that growers get a sustainable price, therefore ensuring they are not grubbed up.

Currently, there are 45 vineyards signed up to the project

In a mission statement on the Old Vine Project website, Kruger said the project aims to “focus the minds of winegrowers, winemakers and all wine drinkers on the benefits that come with age in vines”, as well as the chance to “tell a story of our land, our culture and our history”.

According to OVP there are 10 vineyards in South Africa that have vines older than 100 years amounting to around 3,505 hectares of old vines that can make unique wine with a “special character and purity” and have a complexity and terroir focus that is not possible to replicate in younger vines.

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