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Earthbound Decanter Awards proves local organic, Fairtrade wines can be global medal winner!

EarthboundEarthbound, the pioneering brand in the Cape Legends portfolio of fine wines, has achieved what few believed possible. At the announcement of this year’s prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards in London, three Earthbound labels were the only organic and Fairtrade accredited wines among the South African medal-winners.

Earthbound won silver for its Earthbound Organic Pinotage 2012 and Earthbound Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 while the Earthbound Pinot Noir 2012 claimed a bronze medal.

“It was great that Earthbound wines won medals at an international show. The trademark is relatively new, with the first wines produced in July 2013,” says Earthbound winemaker Samuel Viljoen. “The results are a good measure of the quality in the bottle and that it satisfies the requirements of a more international palate.”

This year, the UK-based Decanter World Wine Awards drew more than 15 000 entries. Whittled down by multiple panels of wine authorities, the medal and trophy winners are regarded as the best in the world.

The grapes for the Earthbound range of mostly organic wines are sourced from Fairtrade-accredited Papkuilsfontein Vineyards near Darling, close to South Africa’s semi-arid West Coast. The farm has 375 ha under vine of which 173 ha is organically grown.

“The vineyards are farmed in an environmentally friendly way, which means the wines show more of their origin,” says Viljoen of the prize-winners. “Practices in the cellar are also such that the fruit and structure of the wines are protected. This must be achieved in spite of the requirements of lower sulphur levels and a restriction on the available techniques a winemaker may use to soften the wine.”

The vines and cellar practices are certified organic while the farm is accredited as Fairtrade, which sees a portion of sales contribute to projects to benefit workers on the farm. The farm is a member of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) that seeks to protect the wealth of biodiversity found in the Cape Floral Kingdom by rehabilitating land on wine farms to indigenous habitat.

“There is the unfortunate perception that organic wine is defective,” Viljoen says. “Oxidative characters as a result of lower sulphur, or microbiologically suspicious flavours  are what some people expect. These are all perceptions that organic wines must overcome in order to prove themselves.

It takes hard work, especially on the vineyard side, and a few mind shifts on the winemaking side. But these awards are an indication that we are on the right road,” he says.

“Hopefully the wine consumer is rewarded not only for their ethical and environmentally friendly choice. The consumer can also surprise friends with the quality and in this way ensure a few mind shifts of their own.

“The awards at Decanter serve as evidence that organic vineyards can produce good wines and furthermore, that Fairtrade principles can also delivery wine of quality.”

The Earthbound Organic Pinotage 2012 is notable for its deep colour and plum, caramel and spice aromas, and concentrated fruit and smokiness on the palate.

“The particular block of Pinotage has already provided good results in a previous brand,” Viljoen says. “The block was converted to organic and it is encouraging to see that the conversion did not negatively affect the quality of the grapes.”

The Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is brilliant in colour with grass and tropical fruit on the nose. Litchi and guava dominate on the palate, supported by bracing acidity.

“To produce an organic Sauvignon blanc is very challenging, precisely because the varietal is so sensitive to oxidation. Hand harvesting at low temperatures and techniques to guard against oxygen build-up is what is required of the cellar. Strict hygiene also leads to a lower risk of microbial spoilage.”

The vivacious Earthbound Pinot Noir 2012 is a fresh, fruity and easy-drinking wine. Fruit cake, sweet spice, canned cherries and strawberries are the foremost aromas, which flow through to the soft and velvety palate.

The Earthbound Organic Pinotage 2012 and Earthbound Pinot Noir 2012 are priced at around R54 per bottle; and, the Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 for R45. Earthbound wines are available at selected Pick n Pay, TOPS at Spar and Makro outlets.

Earthbound is part of the Cape Legends, an extensive collection of superlative quality, award-winning wines from several boutique estates situated in and around the Cape Winelands.  For more information about Earthbound and its wines, visit www.earthboundwines.co.za. Details about the Cape Legends fine wines can be found at www.capelegends.co.za.


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