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Earths Essence - No Added Sulphur - Nothing Added, Nothing Taken Away | 06.09.17

With consumers increasingly focused on their health and what they are putting into their bodies, we’ve seen a growing interest in no added sulphur wines. In this fluid (see what we did there?) environment we sat down with Wim Truter, head winemaker at KWV, to discuss innovation, South Africa and KWV’s no added sulphur wines.

The team in South Africa have been working hard on an exciting, and uniquely South African approach to the no added sulphur quandary currently facing the wine industry. Their response to the growing demand was the delightfully quirky “Earths Essence” range, currently consisting of a Pinotage, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc with new wines under development.

Over a glass of sulphur free Pinotage (a definite winner in the office!) we talked with the quietly charismatic Wim about this innovative process which KWV developed and patented in conjunction with Audacia .

KWV started experimenting with sulphur alternatives in 2014, when they first produced the Earths Essence Pinotage. Their unique process uses Honeybush and Rooibos – South African native plants –  to preserve the wines. In Wim’s words:

“What we get from the Honeybush and Rooibos is a polyphenol that prevents oxidation during the making of the wine.  The initial concept was to introduce the actual wood from the Rooibos and Honeybush into the fermenting juice and with that extraction, it extracted the polyphenol that helped prevent the oxidation.” Though the process of innovation is not without hiccups Wim explains “We definitely found initially if you work with high enough doses to prevent oxidation it had marked aromatic impact, you could pick up a strong Honeybush and Rooibos character on the wine.” Though he notes that he personally feels the spicy aromas actually blend well with the naturally juicy and full-bodied flavours of Pinotage.

As they worked on the method the team at KWV continued to clarify their vision. They are now experimenting with “a different technology where we are using a purified, an essence of tannin from the wood which we find works even better in terms of the effectiveness against oxidation so we’re really excited about that.” And have already seen some fantastic results, as Wim reveals “The new process means we can use a much lower dosage, which gives no aromatic impact on the wine, we’ve already produced a Chenin Blanc and have been thrilled with the result.”  Wim goes on to tell us about his hopes for future wines using this method “This also opens the doors for us to experiment with other varietals such as Chardonnay or even Grenache Blanc. I feel these varieties would be particularly well suited to this preservation method as they can handle a bit of oak so there is a nice synergy there”.

So why not toast to South African innovation with us?