Something old, Something new
Tinta Barocca, Tinta Francisca, Cornifesto, Souzão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga nacional – funny words, singing words, the names of an explorer’s ships, perhaps? Or maybe South American football teams.
No. These romantic names of a bygone era are nothing less than the wonderful grapes of the Douro Valley where fermenting wine is blended with strong spirits to create the luscious, sweet, nutty drink we call Port, named after the regional capital of Oporto.
Port was a popular wine in South Africa in the mid 1900’s due to the British Colonial influence and the cold wet winters. For a while it seems that sweet wines became a bit “passé” as our industry grew and our dry whites and then reds started taking over the world. We think that’s a crying shame. Sweet wines, albeit less “cool” are as complex, interesting and varied as any. So for this month we went right to the source, talking a sip down memory lane to one of early champions of Port in South Africa.
This month is also our first selection containing 2 wines from the same producer – this is exciting stuff. We believe it adds yet another layer of discovery and depth to our offering and we’re happy that we landed on Overgaauw – an amazing clan of winemakers and plainly just great folk.
The combo this month raises a few points worth pondering: family ownership (families that are actually involved), the production of classically styled wines (in this case, Port) that compete against the best in the world, and the contemporary use of cultivars such as Touriga Nacional.
Overgaauw needs absolutely no introduction, but as Jay Z (google him) said, “allow me to re-introduce” themselves. This Stellenbosch tribes comprises 4 straight generations of winemakers with David jnr now at the helm of wine production. We’re talking real royalty here – the type that doesn’t need to prove anything but still strive to grow, improve and innovate. Unfortunately, too many of the older or more established brands seem to fade from the consumer’s radar as younger, seemingly more exciting player appear on the market. That’s in part because of the press but also the brands themselves who rest on their laurels. In the case of Overgaauw, David jnr together with his farther Braam, are taking the old and re-inventing it, creating wine such as this month’s 2014 Touring Nacional. Time to wake up and take notice again. The thing worth noticing is not just that the dry red is made from Touriga which mostly end up in Port blends, but also the style- fresh, lively, taught primary tannins and almost no susceptible use of oak.
The port on the other hand, shows absolutely no invention or originality…. that is meant as a massive compliment, because for 21 years of age, this is a absolute beaut of wine. When David snr discussed planting Port varietals with Prof. Perold in the 1940’s, it was agreed they would plant quite a selection of the Portuguese varietals to remain as faithful as possible to the Portuguese blend. Five varietals were planted in 1949, namely; Tinta barocca, Tinta Francisca, Cornifesto, Souzão and Tinta Rotiz. The grapes were always harvested and crushed together when making the Overgaauw Port, a tradition continued to the current vintage produced. In 1993 Overgaauw was the first South African producer to bottle a 100% Touriga Naçional Port. This Port was a break away from the traditional South African-styled Ports in that it had higher alcohol and lower sugars, similar to those of Portugal. The 100% Touriga Naçional port ended up being a once-off attempt and today Touriga Naçional is blended back into the Cape Vintage.
Don’t take my word for it, even your mother in law will start loving you if you share some with her!
Frank the Tank & Barrel