Ernie Els Wines Newsletter – August 2016

24 Aug

All the latest releases, news and offers from the team at Ernie Els Wines.

1. The sum of its parts – Ernie Els Wines’ excellence in red blends
On the surface there doesn’t seem to be much to blending wines. Blending, in itself, is a physically simple task. You take one wine and stir it with another, and the result is a wine that tastes a little bit like both. In reality, though, blending is a deceptively complex business that is more than simply stirring wines. To become the best at blending, you must learn how to identify the particular strengths and characteristics in a wine that make it stand out from the rest. What gives it distinction? Is it the wine’s unusually light, crisp fruitiness? Or is it the rich, deep berry assertiveness? That’s when the skills and knowledge of a great winemaker come to the fore. Step forward our very own award-winning winemaker Louis Strydom (pictured above).

Once the foundation has been established the real artistry begins; finding a wine or wines to blend with the base wine, which enhance the anchoring features of the wine of distinction and also reduces the weaknesses of the same wine. In other words, the wines must fit together, filling in each other’s voids as well as building on their strengths. There is a small part to blending wines that is quantifiable and non-subjective. However, on the whole, blending wines is more like an art than a science. Without question there is significant talent in the ability to identify the distinctive qualities of a great wine, but there is even more talent in the ability to recognise other wines that have fitting characteristics which augment that wine. To quote Aristotle, “the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts”.

Summing up the parts to make ‘a greater whole’ seems to be something winemaker Louis Strydom and his team have mastered. During the past two months all three blends in the Ernie Els Wines portfolio have been recognised by various competitions and magazines as leaders in their categories.

In the June 2015 edition of Wine Spectator James Molesworth rated the Ernie Els Signature 2012 93 points out of 100. Only the 2005 vintage has been scored higher and James had this to say, “a dark, alluring style, with gunpowder tea and warm ganache notes underscoring the core of steeped red and blackcurrant fruit. Features a singed cedar and alder frame, accented by a tobacco hint. Should open up nicely in the cellar. Best from 2017 through 2022”.

To follow that score up the The Riscura Red Hot Wine Awards agreed with Wine Spectator and rated the Ernie Els Signature 2013 as 93 points putting it in the top three Bordeaux-style blends in South Africa. Nine of the top 13 wines were from Stellenbosch, which once again affirmed the regions’ claim to being the epicentre of quality in South Africa for Bordeaux cultivars and blends.

And just to show that he has more than one arrow in his quiver, Louis excelled again in the Laurium Capital Signature Red Blends Awards with 91 points for the Ernie Els Proprietors Blend 2014. These awards are intended to put non-Bordeaux-style blends under scrutiny and the wine got through with flying colours, once again placing in the top-10 in South Africa.

Later in July the annual Sommeliers Selection, which is judged by members of the South African Sommeliers Association (SASA), was announced. The focus of the competition is to keep it fresh, new, and different, while still retaining the serious aspect of wine and guaranteeing the highest standard. Just to re-assert the versatility of Ernie Els Wines, two of the blends in the portfolio were awarded, The Big Easy Red Blend in the ‘Elegant and Classy’ category and the Proprietors Blend 2014 in the ‘Rich and Voluptuous’ category.

It is fairly safe to say that whatever your preference is for a blended red wine, you’ll find more than a sum of parts at Ernie Els Wines.

2. Ernie Els Wines releases superb new vintages to the market
With the 2016 harvest all but a distant memory, what better way to remind yourself of past harvests than by the release of new vintages. Our latest release, the Big Easy Chenin Blanc 2016, is the final Big Easy wine to be released in the new packaging…and what a way to round it off! With a lovely nose of upfront tropical fruit and a crisp refreshing palate, it makes for the perfect summer wine.

When it comes to the new red wine releases, the whole Ernie Els Wines team has been anticipating the 2014 vintages for some time. After challenging climatic conditions early in the growing season we experienced ideal dry and moderate weather during January and February, which has created some excitement around these releases. All of the reds – from our Proprietor’s Syrah 2014, with notes of peppered salami and goji berries wound around fruit-laden tannins and well integrated oak, to our Ernie Els Merlot 2014, which is a medium bodied wine showing earthy complexity and notes of Swiss chocolate – have a luxurious feel to them.

The standout is certainly the Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, which follows strong scores from Wine Spectator and Veritas for previous vintages. With Cabernet Sauvignon being Louis Strydom and Ernie Els Wines’ field of expertise, the rich notes of cranberries and morello chocolate give fantastic length, while the salty liquorice edge provide freshness and elegance.

One of our firm favourites the Big Easy Red 2015 has been released and is a blend of Shiraz 61%; Cabernet Sauvignon 20%; Grenache 7%; Mouvѐdre 4%; Cinsaut 4%. Some industry stalwarts ‘in the know’ have mentioned this may be the best vintage yet, but we’ll leave that up to you to decide. Ready to drink, its long chalky finish will assist its five-year ageing potential.

3. Ernie Els & Louw Strydom push Ernie Els Wines in Toronto, Canada
As a global brand, Ernie Els Wines prides itself on the strength of the relationships with our partners and importers. Most recently we were afforded the opportunity to combine the best of both worlds, with SAP holding a Q&A session with Ernie Els in Toronto prior to the RBC Canadian Open. To round off the event, Louw Strydom hosted a wine tasting for the executives.

Given the tight parameters with regards to alcohol in Ontario, our selection on the evening was slightly limited. The Big Easy Chenin Blanc was used as our welcoming drink followed by the Big Easy Red. Whilst enjoying these wines, both Ernie and Louw shared the story of Ernie Els Wines as well as the broader Els Group narrative. The evening was topped off as we enjoyed our flagship wine, the Ernie Els Signature blend. As an added bonus to hosting the wine tasting, David Thompson from Vintage Trade arranged for Louw to work the Toronto market for a few days. It is an exciting time to be part of the wine industry in Canada at the moment, especially in Toronto. For the past year or so Toronto has undergone massive expansion and the hospitality industry has benefited greatly, which in turn translates into positive momentum for wines.

The local government monopoly, the LCBO (which is the single largest buyer of wine in the world) has also taken a liking to New World wines in recent times, and Ernie Els Wines have benefited from constant listings in the past 18 months.

“We look forward to seeing continued growth in this trending market,” said Louw Strydom.

4. Namibia and Zambia market visits celebrate long-standing partnerships
Last month the Ernie Els Wines team made a long-awaited visit to Namibia and Zambia. Two of the most stable countries in Africa, and most certainly two of the most beautiful, they have both had long-standing appetites for our wines. The visit kicked off with a visit to our importers and Agents – Namibian Wine Merchants in Windhoek – and the mandatory stop at The Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Grill, where reports received over the years suggest that it is the place to find the best steak in Africa. We are now happy to confirm these reports! And also that the Ernie Els Wines Proprietors Blend 2012 is the most appropriate wine for such a sublime steak.

The following morning we made the journey through the Namib desert to Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast, a buzzing fishing-come-holiday town with charming restaurants and eateries. Many of the local stores and restaurants have been serving Ernie Els Wines for years and it was a wonderful opportunity to share some stories and show our appreciation for their partnership. If you’re in the area, we would add that The Lighthouse Restaurant and The Tug are establishments not to pass up.

The next stop was into Lusaka, a week before their hotly contested Presidential election. Sunrise Beverages showed us a wonderful time in the capital and introduced us to some very enthusiastic customers. An interesting aspect to learn about this market was the informal market and how it is operated. Organised chaos is a term that comes to mind!

The visit was concluded with an outstanding tasting held in the Southern Sun and co-sponsored by Stanbic Bank. Over 100 wine enthusiasts filled the conference room for a seated, formal tasting which was excellently received and the response was overwhelming. After such a great tasting it was obligatory to enjoy a meal at Rhapsody’s before heading home.

5. Ernie Els Wines welcomes new brand ambassador Jared Uys
The team at Ernie Els Wines is pleased to welcome Jared Uys on board as the new Brand Ambassador for the Coastal Regions of South Africa. Jared is originally from Kwa-Zulu Natal, although grew up in the Cape Winelands. After matriculating from Parel Vallei High School, he completed his BComm Degree in Tourism Management and has since furthered his wine studies via the Cape Wine Academy.

After returning to South Africa from spell in the UK, Jared became involved in the wine industry through the tasting room at Morgenhof and a harvest at Uitkyk, which ignited his passion for wine and everything surrounding the industry. Most recently he comes from a strong restaurant management position having been in charge of the Guardian Peak restaurant, which is synonymous with high standards, excellent service and an overall outstanding offering.

Jared has always had a passion for sport and has played or tried most disciplines. However, he comically describes himself as the “Jack of all sports but master of none”. These days he spends his spare time on the trails running in endurance races and naturally on the golf course. When asked about his new vocation Jared said, “I am looking forward to this adventure with Ernie Els Wines, working and learning from an industry icon – winemaker and managing director – Louis Strydom.”

Welcome to the Ernie Els Wines family, Jared.

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