This South African wine from Franschhoek (near Stellenbosch) is a rare find, with an exciting approach to cooperative share farming. This lovely Pinotage (South Africa's signature grape variety) was grown by Willem. It's ageing nicely and currently drinking well.
You can see the age of the wine as you pour it, with a lovely fine tawny hue coming through. Wild berries, aromas of clove and tobacco, soft tannins, and a lingering finish on the palate. This wine benefits from breathing - so open it up an hour or so before you enjoy it, and decant it if possible.
The Pinotage grape is a descendent of the Pinot Noir and Cinsault grapes. Although a Pinotage doesn't have the elegance of a fine burgundy, it will go with the same sort of dishes as a more robust, rustic Pinot Noir: for example smoked duck and pulled pork. The Cinsault heritage gives it a compatibility with Mediterranean ingredients like peppers and aubergines, and baked pasta dishes like lasagne. It also pairs well with pizza!
About the winemaker
The Earth Beneath Our Feet is a new wine label player focused on share farming and led by Sam Hatfield, who's background is in organic farming with shared ownership models in Dorset. They focus on small vineyards around Franschhoek in South Africa and they are working to prove that even small vineyard parcels can create meaningful livelihoods for those who work the land through shared ownership and empowerment models that help the local communities thrive. Their model is to empower local growers with the opportunity to manage a vineyard, while receiving a fair share of the income it generates. Each bottle carries the name of the grower behind the wine as well as a handwritten fragment of their personal reflection of the vintage at hand, printed across the label - a very nice touch, we think!
Sustainability Rating: 2* (Good)
We love the journey that the Earth Beneath Our Feet has embarked upon. Their aim is to care for the land, empower the people who work it and make wines that have a distinct sense of place. Each grower takes on the day-to-day management of a vineyard. Support is provided, where needed, in order to build their capacity to farm in a sustainable way. Growers receive a share of the income generated by their vineyard, what remains is used to cover the running costs incurred during the season.
Sam is a UK organic farmer by background. Part of his work with the local growers is to provide training and guidance on sustainability – for example he's helped Stanley, who runs the Syrah and Chenin Blanc blocks, to convert to organic farming (as yet uncertified). Think lots of chicken manure, winter cover crops and mulching. Beyond organic farming, they have also transitioned the vineyard to dryland (i.e. no manual irrigation) since water is such a precious commodity in South Africa. And the result of all of the above has been to further increase the quality of the fruit.
Other Info: Red. 14% ABV. Aged 15 months in new oak. Cork closure.