Even the South Africans sounded a touch surprised when Decanter.com announced last week that, “For the first time, the British are drinking more South African wine than French, the latest figures show.”
This is big, and not just for the parties involved. It seems to signify a shift in how wine is perceived around the world, and how national wine industries that just a few short years ago seemed destined primarily for niche success are now, in fact, making significant impacts in markets more far-flung and diverse than most people would have predicted.
“‘In 1994,’” the article continued, “‘our producers wouldn't have dreamt of selling more wine to the UK than France', said Jo Mason, UK market manager for Wines of South Africa.”
But that’s the way of the wine world: It is a constantly shifting place, and if the quality is where it needs to be, then great wine, no matter where it’s produced, will find its audience.
This is a grape variety that, while it has its ardent fans, is generally not considered to produce the kind of wine that can justify such a high price tag. But that hasn’t stopped top producer Kanonkop from releasing this one, their 2006 Black Label, priced at 1,000 South African Rands, or approximately $130 (it’s going for £83 in the UK).
As soon as I have the chance to taste it, I’ll report back right here. You never know: It could be a game-changer. I certainly hope so.