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The Case for Light Reds

Radford Dale Director of Viticulture and Winemaking Jacques de Klerk tells us what HE knows of Beaujolais.


The Case for Light Reds

What is Beaujolais?
A region Geographically and stylistically situated between Burgundy to the north and The Rhone to the south – (it’s not quite Pinot and it’s not quite Syrah either). It’s well known as the home of the Gamay grape. Also known as Gamay Noir locally. The wines produced resemble the lightness of Pinot and the generosity of fruit of Syrah.
 
Why do you love it?
They are fun! The wines are less tense and have a more relaxed feeling and that together with the generosity of fruit that they show makes for an easier drinking experience - it appeals to your more hedonistic side than your intellect.
The lighter, fresher style reminds me of Pinot and of the earthy tones of Burgundy.
 
What is your favourite Beaujolais wine from this case and why?
Foillard Cote du Py 2014 – stellar vintage and outstanding producer
 
What is your favourite Beaujolais-style wine in South Africa and why?
Radford Dale Antidote Gamay Noir 2018 – as we are one of only two producers of Gamay Noir in SA, I don’t think I’ve had another Beaujolais style wine made from Gamay in this country that more closely resembles Beaujolais.
 
What’s your take on Gamay? (sidenote - what IS Gamay?)
In SA large parts of the Cape are too warm for Pinot Noir but the granitic soils that we have around here make it a perfect home for the Gamay grape. Seen in the context of the market’s growing preference for lighter, fresher reds, Gamay presents a fantastic opportunity.
 
Have you been to Beaujolais? If so, what was your favourite thing about it?
No but I am planning to visit in June next year.
 
How were you first introduced to Beaujolais?
First introduction was Beaujolais Nouveau and I hated it! The contrived nature of these wines didn’t appeal to me. It was only years later that I first had a Cru Beaujolais when Radford Dale expanded its import range to include wines from this region.
 
Do you make Beaujolais-style wine for Radford Dale? If so, why and how?
Carbonic maceration is a key feature of a lot of the wines we make but it is only The Antidote Gamay that resembles Beaujolais that we make. 
 
How do you interpret it in South Africa? What grapes produce the best Beaujolais-style characteristics here? What regions and why?
When Pinotage is well made, it can often offer the same generosity in terms of fruit but only Gamay can provide the silky texture. 
 
Light reds for summer - a trend or here to stay?
Here to stay – I hope! Our summers are so long and hot here that you are always reaching for the white because you need that refreshment value which makes you miss your reds by the autumn. So our approach is to make reds with the same refreshment value that you need from a white but provides all the red wine character that you want. We produced our Thirst wines for entirely this reason – light, refreshing and fun.
 
What would your wish list be for light reds this festive season? {serving suggestions required}
Vino di Anna Palmentino 2016 – from Etna, Sicily
Radford Dale Thirst Gamay Noir 2019 - from Stellenbosch
Murdoch Hill Artisan Ridley Pinot Noir X Three 2018 - from Adelaide Hills in Australia
Domaine De La Borde Pinot Noir Sous La Roche 2015 - from Jura
 
Serve them all chilled with a glass!
 
What’s next for Radford Dale wines? 
We are the first producers to have planted Gamay in 20 years so watch this space for more Gamay from Radford Dale. 
We are exploring different parts of the Cape with a focus on cooler climates like Stanford and certain parts of the Overberg for varieties such as Chenin, Pinot Noir and Pinotage

A Bit on Jacques

Jacques grew up surrounded by vines and wines in Worcester and Paarl. He came to Stellenbosch to study “the dark arts” of law but quickly realised his true passion - wine. He started out as a cellar rat locally for a large industrial winery and hated every minute of it, so he packed his bags and went to the South of France and Bordeaux and discovered real wine culture! He worked in many different wineries doing any kind of odd job to gain as much experience and knowledge as he could and eventually came back to South Africa in 2003 to study Viticulture and Oenology at Elsenburg. On completion of his studies in 2006, Jacques undertook a 3-year apprenticeship at Klein Constantia under acclaimed winemaker, Adam Mason. From there, he went to Boschendal to focus on viticulture, finally arriving at Radford Dale in 2008 to form part of the winemaking team. Jacques is Director of Viticulture and Winemaking and in March 2017 became a shareholder. Under Jacques’ direction, Radford Dale has been awarded Red Wine of the Year 2017 by Platter’s South African Wine Guide along with 3 consecutive vintages of 5-star wines, two consecutive Tim Atkin MW White Wines of the Year and many other top accolades from internationally accredited wine industry journalists.

Published On: 12/11/2019

Jacques De Klerk

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