Rupert & Rothschild Rouge Classique 2017
At the foot of the spectacular Simonsberg mountain in the Franschhoek valley lies the historic French Huguenot farm Fredericksburg, established in 1690 and now home to Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons. It was in this valley that the early French Huguenots first discovered a terroir similar to that of certain winegrowing regions in France, over 300 years ago. Hence, their decision to settle and cultivate vineyards here.
In addition to the Rupert and Rothschild families striving to produce world-class wines, they are deeply committed to the preservation and conservation of the environment. The cellar is no exception when it comes to the philosophy of its owners: here, preservation and conservation are applied throughout thanks to the use of both traditional and modern winemaking techniques.
To produce the finest quality wine, meticulous attention is given to vineyard and cellar practices. Preserving the grapes at their optimal state prior to initiating the winemaking process is truly one of the great secrets of producing wine. At Rupert & Rothschild the bunches are carefully harvested by hand and intervention during the winemaking process is kept to a minimum.
With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.
Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.
South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.