Patterson’s new range kicks sulphur traces
SNEEZING fits, itchy red eyes and blocked noses are enough to cope with. Add a skin rash to the list and life becomes a bore. If you are among the many – and apparently rising number of – wine lovers who react badly to sulphites in wine, my sympathy. This year, I was told, farmers doubled the quantity of sulphur sprayed on to their vines because of the unusually wet conditions. A-tishoo to that.
What to do? Apart from taking antihistamines we could turn to cider, beer and spirits for our aperitif. That denies us the pleasure of pairing superb examples of the winemakers’ art to fine fare for a start. So we need wines that have had no sulphur added during production – happily it takes minimal detective work to assemble a short list.
The choice increased last month when a new range, produced on Le Lude farm in Franschhoek, was launched at Franck Dangereux’s Foodbarn Restaurant at Noordhoek. Each of five glorious courses was paired with one of Neil Patterson’s impressive labels, described as “SA’s first sulphite-free range”. Patterson’s CV lists him as having worked cellars in Bordeaux, Tuscany, Alsace and Armagnac. Back home, he started winemaking with Rupert and Rothschild, moved to Anthonij Rupert Wines, rising to cellarmaster in 2007.
As someone himself intolerant of wines with a high sulphite content, Patterson spent many hours experimenting with ways of omitting its inclusion without compromising on quality. He thought he had the answer, only to find that the technique had already been registered as SurePure, described as a “global leader in liquid photopurification” and an eco-friendly alternative to pasteurisation and chemicals. UV-C light is used to purify liquids such as wine, fruit juice and milk.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em seemed the answer and Patterson joined SurePure as wine consultant last year, using the system to purify his maiden range. We started with his 2013 sauvignon blanc, produced from a single Helderberg vineyard. In a word, it is stunning, presenting an excellent balance between tropical fruit and green flavours.
After that momentous start, our table was somewhat let down by the chenin blanc 2012, another single vineyard wine from, unusually, Franschhoek. After fermentation, it was aged in old French oak, and bottled after 18 months. But, returning to this wine after an hour, the difference was astonishing: it had opened up to reveal layers of fruit and complexity, and a little vanilla. So do decant it ahead of serving.
Constantia supplied Patterson’s merlot grapes, and this 2009 vintage proved two points – that it’s ageing nicely and is already a winner, complex, fruit-filled and fresh. Whites should sell for about R100 and reds for R145. Visit www. pattersonwine.com for details.
Other wines listed as no-sulphur- added include the Stellar range, the Sadie Family’s Sequillo and Palladius, Reyneke’s Cornerstone, chenin blanc reserve and sauvignon blanc, Jordan’s 2012 unwooded merlot and two Cap Classiques: Simonsig pinot noir Brut Rosé and Villiera’s Brut Natural 2009. To fellow- sufferers, best wishes for a happy Christmas enhanced by virtually sulphur-free wines. To all, hope you have a wonderful festive season and that every wine uncorked or unscrewed exceeds expectations.
SIMONSIG VINESCAPE: Their new brut rosé is a no-sulphur-added bubbly.
FRESH: Neil Patterson’s maiden range makes an impressive debut.