What is understood to be the first commercial vineyard of Italian white-wine variety vermentino has been established on Slent Farm, home of Ayama Wines, in the Voor Paardeberg wine ward near Paarl.
The first vines were planted during a ceremony attended by a group of around 60 media, friends, clients and colleagues of Michela and Attilio Dalpiaz, the Italian co-owners of Ayama Wines. This coincided with a festa on the estate to celebrate the owners’ first decade in South Africa.
Ayama winemaker Michela Dalpiaz says: “We decided on a clone from Sardinia after lots of deliberation with one of Italy’s best-known viticulturists, Augusto Fabbro, who was present on the day to see his brainchild being reborn in a new country and lead a formal tasting of some of Sardinia’s best examples.
“Vermentino is a perfect match for our terroir, which is hot and windy, and features mostly clay soils with sandy areas of decomposed granite. The berries and bunches are large, and the grapes are late ripening, all of which fit in perfectly with the existing varieties on the farm and the harvesting schedule. I also know and love the variety as it produces aromatic white wines which can handle wood and gives you a beautifully powerful wine.”
The wines tasted were:
Cala Reale – Sella & Mosca 2013 (Vermentino di Sardegna DOC)
Canayli – Cantina Gallura 2013 (Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Superiore)
Monteoro – Sella & Mosca 2013 (Vermintino di Gallura DOCG Superiore)
Genesi – Cantina Gallura 2013 (Vermentino di Gallura DOG Superiore).
The consensus after the tasting was that this grape would perform well in South Africa. Guest and top-ranked winemaker Giorgio Dalla Cia summed it up by saying that once the vines have reached maturity, we could expect to see quality like the best from Sardinia.
Other exotic grape varieties have been earmarked for planting on Slent, one of Cape’s oldest farms, first settled in 1685.