South Africa is acknowledged as having the most sophisticated and most authentic Wine Certification system in the world. That rather bureaucratic looking sticker on each and every bottle of certified wine verifies the type of wine, the year produced and the origin of the grapes. Each and every bottle has a unique number that makes it traceable back to the vineyard.
Anyone, anywhere, with access to the internet can go to the South African Wine Information System website, type in the seal number, and verify that what it says on the label is indeed inside the bottle.
Started way back in 1973, the Wine of Origin system has, over the years, engendered more and more consumer confidence; so while we might not trust our government, we trust in our local wine, and to such an extent that it is very difficult for imported wines at the low and mid-price level, to make any headway in our local market. Incidentally, the same applies to olive oil where we are wary with regard to the purity and authenticity of imports.
Not wanting to bore you with the intricacies of the Wine of Origin System let me fast forward to appellation DARLING and sketch the situation here. Darling consists firstly and logically with the region DARLING, one of the 26 registered wine-producing districts. Within the Darling region, there is a small sub-region or Ward, called GROENEKLOOF and producers in this Ward sometime elect to choose this in that they feel it more terroir specific.
The rule of Wine Certification (appellation) is that you can always choose the larger area if you wish, but unless all your grapes or wine, qualify for inclusion into the smaller appellation – this is not possible. So for example, wines grown under the Groenekloof appellation can also be labelled “Darling” but not the other way round. The market or the producer will dictate the decision. Of course, if the producer wants to select an even bigger area, and use fruit outside Darling, then Coastal Region becomes an option.
As the consumer, simply remember … if it says “Wine of Origin – Darling”, it is guaranteed pure Darling, whoever the producer might be, and vice versa!
The weather has so dominated our minds over the last few months, and rightly so, as it is a torrid time for local farmers whatever they might be growing.
Californian Phil Freese is one of the top five viticulturists in the world. He was in Darling the other day and en route from Stellenbosch, he stopped to have a look at the vineyards approaching Darling. His comment was along these lines … “there are some seriously old bush vines out there that have seen many, many summers; they will have learned to cope a lot better than we think … and there could still be some really good wines in the offing … though maybe in lesser quantity.” Wise words indeed!