‘Finding the South African hidden gem wines’ – Boplaas

May 11, 2019

Buying quality wine doesn’t mean having to break the bank. That’s the opinion of Boplaas Family Vineyards marketing manager Rozanne Nel.

“We all try to save money by shopping smarter. As the general cost of living increases however, so does our motivation to find those hidden gems that reward us with great value.
“Fortunately, we don’t need to downgrade or give up our small pleasures like a good glass of wine or two after a hard day. There are still plenty of top wines that are accessibly priced, if you know where to look,” she says.

Take the trouble to explore wines from lesser known regions, she advises.

Boplaas Family Vineyards, a six-generation family business in the Klein Karoo, has a number of these gems in its portfolio. The region is ideal for growing Portuguese varieties due to the drier climate and lower rainfall.

Their arrival however wasn’t completely planned, especially in the case of Boplaas. Tinta Barocca made its way to the farm by pure chance and a fortunate accident or two. Boplaas patriarch, Oupa Danie Nel, returned from a visit to the Swartland in the late 70’s with his Chevy El Camino packed to the rafters with Pinotage and Shiraz. His neighbours duly finished off the Shiraz and there and then a decision was made to plant this variety on the farm.

However, it was later in part discovered by his son, current owner and cellar master, Carel Nel, while studying Oenology at Stellenbosch University, that his father’s vines were indeed Tinta Barocca and not the desired Shiraz. A trip to Portugal followed, where the Nels befriended many of the Douro’s top port producers and learnt, amongst other things, the art of crafting fine fortifieds.

Margaux, taking over the reins in the cellar from her father, continued his passion for port varieties and completed a Masters degree in Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, on the effects of the Klein Karoo’s terroir on Touriga Naçional.

The first single cultivar bottling of a table wine from Tinta Barocca at Boplaas took place with the 1982 vintage and since then this hardy Portuguese grape has been a staple of the cellar’s range.

“The wines repeatedly score well with diverse panels of judges. At a price of under R80/bottle, they’re exactly the kind of gems offering exceptional value,” says Rozanne.

Boplaas Tinta Barocca 2016
Tinta Barocca was of course the first Portuguese variety planted at Boplaas. It was also one of the first Portuguese varieties planted in the Cape in the late 1920’s. A mere 221ha’s of this hardy, versatile and quality red variety are spread throughout the Cape – thus accounting for 0.2% of total vineyard area in South Africa.

The wine is harvested by hand in the cool of the morning and fermented in temperature-controlled, open-top cement fermenters called kuipe in Afrikaans or lagars in Portugal. Manual punch-downs gently coax optimum flavour and colour extraction from the grape skins, while maintaining the bold aromatics., the wine is barrel matured in old French oak for 10 months prior to bottling with a light filtration.

It is an aromatic, medium-bodied wine with its combination of ripe plum, mulberries, juicy raspberry jam, bright spice and tell-tale undercurrent of cocoa powder typical of Tinta, all wrapped in soft tannins.

The Tinta Barocca makes an ideal aperitif or partner to rustic country fare: grilled red meats, venison dishes, casseroles or even a Sunday roast chicken; grilled peri-peri chicken, beef Espetada or causal al fresco dining with good cheese.
The cellar door price is only R75 per bottle.

Boplaas Touriga Nacional 2017
The wine is rated a “Hidden Gem” in Platter Wine Guide; received Double Gold at the National Wine Challenge (SA Top 100) 2018; and, was one of the Top 10 Red Wines at the Cape Port & Wine Challenge. The wine also received 91 points from Wine Magazine.

It is rightfully regarded as the “king of Portuguese vines”. The hardy Touriga Nacional with its small dark berried bunches, penchant for low-yields and fulsome tannins, enables thoughtful winemakers to craft powerfully elegant wines possessing incredible longevity.
Touriga Nacional is the foundation of the finest fortifieds and some of the world’s most exciting wines coming out of Portugal. At Boplaas, Touriga is used for crafting the finest Cape Vintage and Reserve port-style wines, as well as fine table wines.

Touriga Nacional made its way to African shores in the early 1970’s and today accounts for approximately 103ha – a mere 0.1% of the total South African vineyard area.
After vinification in lagars, the wine is barrel matured in 3rd and 4th fill French oak barrels for 10 months prior to bottling with a light filtration.

The result is an accessible, medium-bodied wine that showcases the variety’s heady aromatics with ripe black plum, kirsch, vibrant five spice, fynbos and notes of coco nib and charcuterie on the palate. The tannins are firm, but yielding, promising years of enjoyment if stored correctly.
The wine is a perfect partner to hearty country cuisine – venison pie, slow roast lamb or warming casseroles; traditional Portuguese fare; fine mature cheese and charcuterie or simply enjoyed around the fireside with friends and family.
It sells at the cellar door for only R78 per bottle.

Boplaas Cape Portuguese White Blend 2018
The Wine-of-the-Month Club singled out this wine for its great value. The 2017 vintage was also chosen as one of the prestigious house wines at the oldest wine club in the UK – The Wine Society.

This is the third vintage of an innovative white blend consisting of Verdehlo, an exotic Portuguese variety; and, perennially popular Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Harvested by hand in the cool of the morning, the wine is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to maintain the exotic fruit flavours and crisp acidity. Verdelho’s intense citrus, pineapple and pear aromatics are a heavenly mix with the tropical fruit flavours of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay’s apple and crisp acidity.

In the glass, it is an aromatic, lighter-bodied wine with its combination of tropical fruit flavours, citrus, yellow pear, granny smith apple, lemon grass and bracing acidity.
Drink chilled, as an aperitif or partner to fresh seafood – grilled cob, deep-fried calamari or a generous paella; aromatic Asian dishes; roast chicken; grilled peri-peri chicken or causal al fresco dining.
The cellar door price is only R59,00 per bottle.