South African wines continue European odyssey

Related tags Cabernet sauvignon Wine South african wine

Interest in South Africa's trademark grape, Pinotage, is helping to
drive sales of the country's wines outside traditional export
strongholds such as the UK. For example, Norway's state monopoly
has just bought three wines from the country's Distell group.

While South African wines are now as commonplace on supermarket shelves in the UK as their counterparts from France or Australia, the New World producer is yet to make the same impact in the rest of the Continent.

But the search for new markets is a constant one for most South African wine makers, and like other New World producers, they are garnering an increasing following in the countries to the north of Europe with little or no history of wine production themselves.

Distell, one of the biggest South African producers, is one company which has been successful in Scandinavia, having recently landed a large order for three of its Pinotage wines in Norway.

The wines, all of which are sold under Distell's Lusan brand, are from Neethlingshof and Stellenzicht, two of South Africa's leading wine producers and leaders in the Stellenbosch region. They have been listed by Norway's state-run national monopoly, Vinmonopolet, which is responsible for wine retailing throughout the country.

The successful introduction of the wines into Norway is in part due to the growing interest across Europe in South Africa's flagship grape variety, Pinotage. "Ongoing exposure abroad for South Africa's most finessed interpretations of the varietal has earned it increasing respect,"​ commented Distell's group global brand manager for luxury wines, Carina Gous.

"Neethlingshof in particular is closely associated with Pinotage, having won a coveted place on the Top Ten Pinotage rankings for three consecutive years with its flagship, Lord Neethling. It also enjoys a growing international reputation. The 1998 vintage, for example was also South Africa's only trophy winner on this year's International Wine & Spirit Competition in London.

"But Vinmonopolet will also have the more accessibly priced Neethlingshof Pinotage from the mainstream range, for everyday drinking, and will also carry the Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Pinotage, which like its stable mate Lord Neethling, is regularly rated a four-star winner in the John Platter South African Wine Guide,"​ she said.

Stellenzicht and fellow Lusan brand Le Bonheur are also extending their reach with international airline listings.

The 1999 Le Bonheur Cabernet Sauvignon will be served exclusively to first-class international passengers on all SAA flights in April, while the 2002 Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Sauvignon Blanc will be offered to SAA's business class passengers during February and the new Hill & Dale range of easy drinking wines will be available on the carrier's domestic flights next year.

The 2001 Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Chardonnay is also to be served aboard British Airways to business class passengers next year.

The Hill & Dale range is also being listed by UK supermarket chain Morrisons, the fifth biggest in the country. The 117-store chain will be stocking the 2002 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2001 Chardonnay.

Related topics R&D Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider