My wine background is Europe, not South Africa. I grew up wine-wise in Europe and the UK, selling wine in the UK here before returning to South Africa in 2006. Whilst I drank wine growing up in South Africa, at university etc., when it came to creating the wines for Rascallion, my inspiration came from Spain – Albariño and Rioja, Italy – Gavi di Gavi, Soave, Sicilian blends, Southern Italian red blends, Portugal – Alentejo red and white blends, France – Rhone red and white blends. All these wine regions have a commonality which is that they produce wines of character and depth, and are almost all, blends. Single varietal wines are a relatively new phenomenon in Europe, and it would be unthinkable in many wine regions to just produce a single varietal wine, other than when it’s being made purely for commercial reasons. Another common thread in these wines is that they are all aromatic in character which means that they are very well placed to go with food, as in Europe wine is considered a food stuff. It is not viewed the same as hard liquor.
So when I look to create wines for our portfolio I use blends to deliver the end result of fruit-forward, aromatic, yet easy to drink wines. And easy to drink doesn’t mean cheap, it means wines that can be drunk by the glass, bottle, and with food. I pay particular attention to alcohol and pH levels when blending with our consultant winemaker, Rianie Strydom, but mouthfeel and drinkability are paramount. So even in our lifestyle range, the With Love from the Cape Collection, which are single varietals, the building blocks remain important. We rarely find a parcel of wine that doesn’t need some tweaking to meet my specifications which means that the process continually moves forward as each wine is created to deliver the drinkability that I am after.
Ross Sleet aka The Rascal