South African wine pumps up the volume 0
Boekenhoutskloof 2011 Porcupine Ridge and Boekenhoutskloof 2011 The Wolftrap Viognier Chenin Blanc Grenache. (Supplied)
It wasn't that long ago that Marc Kent was the new kid on the block, introducing a new South African winery that made 6,000 bottles in its first year. Today, that number has eclipsed 4 million bottles across four product ranges, including the popular Porcupine Ridge and The Wolftrap labels.
From 1996 to present, Kent has gone from being a maverick outsider to one of his country's most celebrated winemakers. The John Platter Guide, the bible for South African wine, awarded three of his wines perfect scores and named his winery Boekenhoutskloof its Winery of the Year for 2012.
"We're not trying to pull one over on people," Kent says. "You can make more wine and make better wine."
While he continues to create the top-tier Boekenhoutskloof range he is always a proud promoter of his stylish red blend, The Chocolate Block. Much of the growth for his winery has come with the value priced Porcupine Ridge and The Wolftrap portfolios. Both are extensively available in Canada, which has recently overtaken the United States as Boekenhoutskloof's No. 1 export market. Kent reports that his wines have found strong audiences in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
He is grateful for the support. "South African wine isn't an easy sale anywhere outside of South Africa," Kent says matter-of-factly.
The savvy winemaker attributes the success of expanding the range of his value brands to finding great vineyards, which helps ensure the wines offer tremendous value for their price. Making great wines would be impossible without the right raw ingredients, he explains.
"We're not emotional about where the grapes come from," says Kent, before adding that region in South Africa where they come from is less important than their ability to produce exciting, complex and noteworthy wines.
"We now have a really nice range of wines that I feel confident about presenting anywhere in the world," he says. "I believe we can compete well with any one."
Wines of the Week:
**** Boekenhoutskloof 2011 Porcupine Ridge Syrah Swartland, South Africa
BC $18 | AB $18 | MB $17.99 | ON $14.95 (595280)
Big vineyard investments in the up-and-coming Swartland region have turned an already rich, robust red into something even more stunning. Porcupine Ridge Syrah has long been one of the best value red wines available, and the new vintage strikes me as the best yet. Its rich flavours and complexity make it very attractive.
**** Boekenhoutskloof 2011 The Wolftrap Viognier Chenin Blanc Grenache Western Cape, South Africa
BC $14.99 (856450) | AB $13 | MB $15 | ON $13.95 (292532)
This stunning white wine shows the real excitement in South Africa today is with its blended wines. A creative mix of Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc, this spicy, floral-scented white has aromatic charm and fresh, fruity intensity which is bound to make it some adventurous wine lover's new favourite wine. Highly recommended.