I always thought that the smoky quality of South African wines came from the addition of Pinotage in the blends but, after having the 2oo1 Rust en Vrede blend, I think this may just be a property of South African wine.
This was a massively concentrated wine with a ton of smokiness that will probably be very divisive. I think this smokiness might be something that is being vinified out of more recent wines, as having the 2006 Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block, the smokiness is very subtle. (The Chocolate Block has no Pinotage, either, which I found surprising after tasting it.)
Hi, I know full well what quality you are referring to. Most SA reds have it, but in Pinotage it really seems to come alive. My understanding is that it comes from a particularly tenacious strain of brettanomyces that is common in SA’s wine regions. Frankly, I like that quality in SA reds and have not been impressed with those wines from which it has been successfully extricated, or, prevented from occurring. That smoky/bandaidy/leather aroma really speaks SA to me.
Well, now we know. It is brett, big time. I did not taste one South African wine that had that overpowering smoke and rubber. Those flaws do not exist now in any quality wines being made from $7 and up. Amazing how far the industry has come ein the last few years. South African wines are very well-made and priced; I cannot believe the excuses I was making for those very flawed Rust en Vrede wines so recently.