Wine of the week: Horse Power

We are delighted that Joanne Gibson chose to write about Excelsior this week.

Joanne is a Sunday Times wine columnist, award-winning feature writer for The World of Fine Wine and Decanter (UK), Gilbert et Gaillard (France), Good Taste, WineStyle, Classic Wine and Food & Home Entertaining (South Africa). Joanne is also a judge in the annual Best of Wine Tourism Awards and was named SA Wine Writer of the Year in 2009. Level 4 Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust as well as a certificate in Wine Evaluation from the University of Stellenbosch.


Here’s what she had to say…

China is now the world’s fifth-largest wine-producing country, coming out of nowhere just a few years ago to account for 5.68% of global volume.

According to a study by the University of Adelaide, only France (accounting for 21.19%), Italy (16.31%), Spain (12.16%) and the US (8.76%) produce more wine, with South Africa ninth (3.4%) behind Australia, Argentina and Chile.

Covering 1271 grape varieties from 521 wine regions in 44 countries, the study shows that cabernet sauvignon is now the world’s most widely planted grape (accounting for 6.3% of vineyards) followed by merlot (5.81%), both having overtaken the white variety airen.

This takes the global vineyard share of red wine varieties from 49% in 2000 to 55% in 2010 – a trend consistent with a preference for red wine in the Chinese market.

On Friday, more than 1.35 billion people in the People’s Republic will welcome the Chinese Year of the Horse. It surely bodes well for Excelsior, the wine and stud farm in Robertson, whose flagship cabernet sauvignon sports a horse-head logo – in gold, no less – and is named Evanthius after the champion hackney that Excelsior imported from the UK in 1913.


“During the sea voyage Evanthius managed to kick two people to death,” reveals fifth-generation Excelsior owner Peter de Wet. “So we have always believed that the Brits used the sales to get rid of a belligerent horse!”

He says China is the biggest market for the Evanthius 2010, a full-bodied wine made from vines planted in 1988 and aged in a mixture of French and Hungarian oak barrels for 22 months.

Soft tannins are wrapped in rich blackcurrant and black chocolate flavours, but alcohol is a moderate 13%.

“It should comfortably improve for 10 years,” says De Wet. Around R120.

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