One of the advantages of massive tastings like Hospice du Rhone is that you get to try wines that are harder to find and from places you don’t get to see every day. Such as South Africa.
We met a couple of really interesting producers from there, including Edmund Terblanche, of La Motte, in the Franschhoek Valley in the Cape winelands. It being Hospice du Rhone, Terblanche was pouring the winery’s shiraz wines. Yes, shiraz is the Australian name for syrah, but apparently, it’s also the preferred term in South Africa, too.
“That’s the name that we’ve grown up with,” Terblanche said. “But you’ll find in South Africa you have people using the syrah word, as well. People probably want to express some style or something. But you taste the whole line-up, the shiraz, the syrah, you can’t really taste the difference.”
So naturally, we had to ask what makes a South African syrah unique. All lot of things, Terblanche said.
“There’s such a lot of influences here,” he said, explaining that people can imitate the rest of the world or they can make a more unique wine. “With the influences from two oceans, with the altitude and some of the oldest soils in the world, we can definitely make something unique.”
Selling it to the rest of the world can be challenging. Terblanche explained that because La Motte is one of the older wine brands in South Africa, having started in 1995, they do sell about 70 percent of their wine in South Africa. However, they are trying to branch out – having had some success selling to the United Kingdom and Germany. But they do want to reach the U.S. and are actively looking for the right representation to do just that.
“It’s extremely difficult to introduce the category of South Africa,” Terblanche said.
But that was why he was at Hospice du Rhone.
Needless to say, getting wine from La Motte here in the States won’t be easy, but the wines are available in Canada. And here’s the website, in case you happen to be in South Africa, www.la-motte.com.