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7/24 Jim Clarke, Marketing Manager Wines of South Africa USA
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: Don't forget that EVERY tweet during this chat should include the #SommChat hashtag in order for everyone to see it!
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: As we ask our Qs, you can ask Jim your Q’s as well! He'll do his best to answer all Q’s in the order they come #SommChat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Hi Everybody! Happy to be here and glad to chat about South African wines. Let me know what questions you have; South Africa’s Winelands are a diverse place, so there’s so much to talk about. #sommchat @WOSA_USA
Wines of S. Africa @WOSA_USA: I started almost 6 years ago, after a long time as a sommelier in Manhattan. South Africa was a specialty of mine long before that, and I used to do a lot of freelance work for the organization, so it made a smooth transition. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: I have a degree in classical music, and as one does with a performing arts degree, I worked in restaurants. I was lucky to have Greg Harrington, now of Gramercy Cellars, as an early mentor. I took classes and then began working as a Somm and writer #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Chenin is hard to generalize because it’s so diverse. Swartland Chenin is often more mineral and linear, whereas Stellenbosch examples offer more fruit. #sommchat
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm what are some of the biggest changes you have seen in #winemaking in #SouthAfrica in the last few years? any new things upcoming @jimwinebeer ? cc @WOSA_USA
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Individual regions are beginning to commit to specialties a lot more, so we’re really beginning to see what does...
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 2) best where. Stellenbosch Cab, Swartland rhone varieties, Elgin Chardonnay are all examples. Also young producers are looking back to the top wines of the 20th century for inspiration, rediscovering the virtues of cinsault, for example. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: I and Remy Charest will be talking about regions where vinifera grapes may not do well, but world class alternatives are emerging - Maine blueberry wines, Danish cherry wines, cider, etc. We’ll also be asking why sommeliers overlook them. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: I drink pretty widely. Lots of bubbles, definitely. Sunday brunch with my wife @ShanaSpeaksWine means bubbles and dim sum. I’m also enjoying lots of German and Italian wines lately. #sommchat
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm @jimwinebeer What has been toughest part in the journey as Marketing Manager for #Wines of South Africa USA @WOSA_USA? Can U share some good techniques for introducing #Southafrica wines to consumers?
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: The toughest part of the journey is a small budget, frankly. The rand’s poor exchange rate and other factors means I have less to work with than my equivalents from other areas. That the wines are great and diverse makes up for that… #sommchat...
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 2) 1 easy thing is South Africa uses many familiar grapes; people already know Cab, Chard, etc., so a South African example isn’t a big leap. For Chenin, which is less familiar… #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 3) I focus on what I call the median style, which is great for groups with different tastes. More and more SA Chenins have aromatics that will please Sauvignon drinkers, enough body for Chard fans, and the freshness a pinot Grigio drinker will enjoy. #sommchat
Blinded By the Bite! @BlindedBite: just sent off a Q on bubbles & French Appellation wines
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Well, MCCs from South Africa first, of course…and Champagne! I’m tasting more and more German Sekts that I enjoy, and Italy’s Metodo Classico are getting better and better, too - Franciacorta, trentodoc, and others. #sommchat
Blinded By the Bite! @BlindedBite: What’s your fav MCC from South Africa currently? Sorry if you’ve already shared this I missed #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Graham Beck has long been the leader here, and for good reason; these days they’re higher-end cuvees like the Blanc de Blancs are becoming easier to find, too. But the range available here is growing fast; look for Colmant, Tanzanite, Saltare, & L’Ormarins... #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 2) It’s great that these days we have access to classic properties and younger boutique operations here in the U.S. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: I’ve done some home brewing. I love living in NYC, so I'm not sure I’m cut out for life in the vineyards. I wouldn’t want to call a wine “mine” and not be hands-on. Plus I love wine’s diversity; not sure I could “commit” to focusing on my own wines. #sommchat
Blinded By the Bite! @BlindedBite: Yes South African but just recently. I spent some time in the Seychelles but want to explore more of SA’s wines. Whites are my fav #chenin #sommchat #wine #WW #WineWednesday #cheers
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Chenin is SA’s most planted variety, w/more grown there than in the rest of the world combined. It’s definitely something to explore. Also more and more top-end white blends, which isn’t so common elsewhere. The texture and mouthfeel of these wines can be extraordinary #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Stellenbosch is really focusing on Cab these days. The typical SA Cab satisfies the sommelier’s cliche about SA wines, between Old World and New. Generally that means New World generosity on the nose, but a more structured palate… #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: For Chard, Stellenbosch, Elgin, and Hemel-en-Aarde are the places to go. The latter 2 usually favor a focused, more mineral style; Stellenbosch chard can be a bit rounder. Lots of texture w/o too much weight really defines a lot of SA Chards, and Chenins, too. #sommchat
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: Q fr #SommChat #Somm I am having trouble convincing my #Chef /Owner that #southafrica #wines should be on our list - we have both french and Italian dishes. How can I best overcome this @jimwinebeer cc: @WOSA_USA
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Tell them to get back I the kitchen and let you do your job! Really, I think the QPR ratio will help you do your work; a lot of SA wines outperform in the BTG range especially. Start with the familiar varieties there’s already demand for - SB, Chard, Cab… #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: If there’s a real French connection, emphasize how French Huguenots gave the industry a boost when they came to the Cape in 1688. There’s less of an Italian connection, but SA definitely has a comparable, Mediterranean climate… #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 3) But the most complete solution is to take him to SA. We know once someone’s visit they’re converts for life. It’s a long trip, but for fans of good food and wine it’s both fantastic and affordable. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: The SA wine industry created their IPW sustainability program in 1998, and have refined it ever since. Today 96% of the industry is certified - look for the stylized protea on the capsule label. Social sustainability also plays a big role… #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 2) SA’s wine industry is more aware of this than other agricultural areas, given the country’s history. The WIETA certification was created by the industry to address these issues, and is growing rapidly. We’ll see their seals on wines in the U.S. market very soon. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: TexSom is such an enthusiastic gathering of well-meaning somms that it’s hard to think of something comparable. It’s a setting designed to let wines shine, free from too much spin and BS. They do a great job, too, of encouraging somms to rethink their assumptions, too. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: SB in SA is often my best example of the country’s New World, Old World character, offering some of the fruit and exuberance of NZ but also some Sancerre-like minerality. Tasted blind, if you know it’s SB but it falls between those 2, it’s probably SA #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Our summer is their winter, and while it doesn’t get that cold, it can be very windy and wet. Anything from Sept-April is usually fine. It can be hot in some regions in December and January, and S. Africans take long Xmas breaks, so keep that in mind for winery visits… #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: As far as a route, base yourself in Stellenbosch and you can reach most areas within an hour (not Cape Town; great city, but traffic will slow down your trips to the vineyards). Plan on an overnight down the coast in Hermanus, and probably one in Robertson as well. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: As with most parts of the world, this varies with the individual producer. I’d say premium producers are definitely limiting their sulfate usage when they can. #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: I’ve been with them for almost 6 years, and freelanced for them previously. I love the wines and the people that make them; in both cases there’s such a diversity of character that I’m never bored... #sommchat
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: 2) In terms of markets, that is really up to individual producers. Because of our limited budget WOSA mostly concentrates on the East Coast, Chicago, Texas, and CA. That’s largely based on brand presence, etc.; obviously we’d love to see the wines grow everywhere! #sommchat
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: Time to wrap up! Hope you enjoyed this hour of #wine talk with #Marketing Manager of #Wines of #SouthAfrica USA @WOSA_USA Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer #WineWednesday #SommChat
KeeperCollection @KeeperColl: It was great to have #Marketing Manager of #Wines of #SouthAfrica USA @WOSA_USA Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer join us today for #SommChat. We hope everyone learned as much as we did! #WineWednesday
Jim Clarke @jimwinebeer: Thanks for having me! Great to #sommchat with such an engaged and active group of wine lovers. I hope everyone goes out and tries some SA Cab, Chenin, Chard, bubbles, or whatever else sounds good! Cheers!
Shelly Wilfong @srwilfong: I’ve been enjoying SA wines more and more. My blind tasting group raved about this gem last night. What a find! Cheers!