KWV Wines – The Essence of the Land from South Africa

Peter Morrell meets this producer’s Chief Viticulturalist Marco Ventrella and tastes some of KWV’s outstanding wines

KWV are known as the Proud Pioneers in South Africa. It started in 1918 when a small co-operative of growers decided to pool their resources with the objective of improving the country’s wine industry standards and quality. KWV is now one of the most highly regarded wine producers in the world

Chief Viticulturalist of KWV Marco Ventrella was recently in London and I met him to talk about his work and to taste some of the wines that the company produces. Marco is the lynchpin of the whole operation as he has to ensure that each grower is producing grapes of the right quality for the wines. As there are 100s of farmers in the KWV group spread over a wide geographical range this means Marcus is clocking up 5000+ kilometres of travel each month. All of this hard work is evident when you taste the result as KWV wines are outstanding.

Although this was a wine tasting I started the evening with a gin and tonic made with KWV’s new Cruxland Gin which is flavoured with Kalahari truffles. This offers a unique taste experience, you can read my review of Cruxland Gin as

Here are a few of the highlights, the full tasting list is at the end.

Wine tasting proper started with an old to young vertical of KWV’s Mentors Grenache Blanc 2011, 2014 and 2015. It was interesting how this white kept its fruit and freshness over the years. The older version exhibiting more character and there was a lot of youthful exuberance in the younger vintages. In each of the years apricots on the nose developed into ripe fruity tones in the mouth with hints of minerality. The finish was from complex to fresh, and lively.

The Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 was a good example of how perfect grape growing weather will affect the end result. This highly aromatic wine had good tropical fruit aromas that continued on the palate being joined by refreshing grapefruit flavours and a zingy finish.

The single varietal Mentors Petit Verdot 2014 was excellent. Petit Verdot is a slow ripening grape and difficult to grow in cooler climates, you will see it in small quantities in blended European wines. This 100% Petit Verdot is the result of a kinder climate which allows the grape to ripen fully. A spicy nose is the promise of more to come and it does. In the mouth is shows dark cherry and plum flavours with floral hints. The well structured tannins make it round and smooth and it has a long finish.

My star of the night was the Mentors Cabernet Franc 2013, another single varietal which had benefited from both the soil and the weather. This was a big wine in every sense of the word. There were strong plum aromas in the bouquet followed by a luscious mouthfeel with chocolate and spice flavours. The tannins are complex and make for a silky smooth and persistent finish.

A combination of good vineyard management, careful vinification and the South African terroir all come together to make some exceptional wines.

The entire tasting list, RRPs and outlets are
  • KWV’s Cruxland Gin – £27, Morrisons
  • KWV’s Cinsault 2016 – £7.99, Co-op
  • KWV Grenache Blanc 2016 – £7.99, Co-op
  • KWV’s Earth’s Essence Pinotage 2015 – £9.99, Ocado
  • KWV’s Earth’s Essence Shiraz 2016 – £6.99, Aldi
  • KWV’s Earth’s Essence Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – £9.99, Ocado
  • KWV’s Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 – £9.00, Morrisons
  • KWV’s Cathedral Cellars Chardonnay 2015 – £10.99, Co-Op
  • KWV’s Mentors Cabernet Franc 2013 – £14.95, Ocado, Slurp, SH Jones
  • KWV’s Mentors Petit Verdot 2014 – £14.95, Ocado, Slurp, SH Jones
  • KWV’s Mentors Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – £14.95, Ocado, Slurp, SH Jones
  • KWV’s Mentors Grenache Blanc 2011, 2014, 2015