On Audacia we create a range of distinctive red wines. Our portfolio consists mainly of Sulphur Additive Free and Vegan friendly wines made using patented innovative new techniques involving indigenous South African wood derivatives and tannins. 2014 saw the launch of our first patented Rooibos Wooded – Sulphite Additive Free wines made according to this breakthrough process.
Rooibos & Honeybush Wooded Wines
In 2014 Audacia launched the world’s first ever – Rooibos Wooded “SULPHUR ADDITIVE FREE” red wine created by using indigenous Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos) and Cyclopia genistoides (Honeybush) toasted wood chips. The wine, a merlot from the 2013 harvest, became the first of an exciting range of ‘healthier option’ Rooibos wooded sulphite additive free wines – which are produced under patent licence to www.reddawnip.co.za
South African indigenous wooded wine allows for the creation of a totally new and unique category of wine, not to be confused with wine made using imported traditional oak and other woods and tannins (wood staves, chips, powders and tannins). We are now using our own indigenous natural wood and tannins in a similar manner. The discovery that the use of Rooibos and Honeybush woods and tannins assists in wines natural preservation and enhances flavour is this breakthrough patented invention enabling Audacia to substantially raise the bar in local winemaking. Audacia is now producing what we consider to be ‘the purest’ wine in the world made with mainly only four natural ingredients; fermented grape juice, yeast and indigenous natural wood additives and tannins, with no other chemical or animal additives being used.
1659 – Jan Van Riebeeck, the first Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, had an audacious plan to grow vines and produce wine in the Cape. His dream became a reality when he imported vine cuttings from Europe; on the 2nd of February 1659, he recorded in his journal how the first Cape wine was made.
1772 – Carl Thunberg, a Swedish naturalist visiting South Africa, noted that the Dutch settlers who had to rely on supply ships to bring them black tea from Europe. When running out of their imported black tea supplies would often substitute it by boiling a plant coming from the Cederberg region in the Western Cape, which they acquired from the indigenous people of the area. The settlers in the Cape embraced this locally made “tea”, which served as an alternative to black tea, which became known as Rooibos (Red Bush) tea and has since grown in popularity in both South Africa and throughout the world.
2011– 352 years after Jan van Riebeeck had planted vines at the Cape and 239 years after Carl Thunberg observed settlers making tea from Rooibos leaves, Trevor Strydom (owner of Audacia Wines), was challenged by his Audacia partner, Paul Harris, to find a ‘Blue Ocean’ opportunity in the wine industry – meaning they explore unchartered territory and find an innovative means to create a distinctive red wine with a truly “indigenous” twist.
This challenge led Trevor to an extensive search to find a local alternative to imported oak and other wood derivatives (chips, staves, powder) and imported tannins usually used in the winemaking process. After many months, the search was concluded when Trevor’s daughter, Sarah–Jane offered him a cup of invigorating Rooibos tea after a hard day in the cellar. This was Trevor’s “eureka” moment, and by using the chipped and toasted wood of the plant, instead of imported wood chips, the dream became a reality and a global wine game changer was born.
Global Consumer Trends - Wine Preservation
According to Euromonitor International, a world leader in strategy research for consumer markets, when it comes to ‘Wellness and Health’ the ‘free from’ trend is the undisputed winner at a global level in 2017. Their survey also reveals that ‘natural’ is also the most sought after attribute.
Worldwide wine production has lacked innovation and not followed global health and wellness trends. Audacia is at the forefront of changing this paradigm by producing ‘Sulphur Additive Free’ wines whilst maintaining the integrity of traditional wine.
The chief antioxidant (preservative) normally used in wine production is Sulphur Dioxide. The legal limit of total sulphur dioxide allowed in South African table wines is 150 mg/L, with a lower limit being 10mg/L, below which the wine can to be labelled as “No Sulphur added”. All other wines need to have “Contains Sulphur” on the labels.
Trevor worked closely with a team from Stellenbosch University’s Department of Viticulture and Oenology, headed by Professor Wessel Du Toit (investigating oxidation in wine is part of his research portfolio) during the initial stages of research in 2011 and 2012. The first commercial wine, a Merlot made totally ‘Sulphite Additive Free’ was created from grapes harvested during 2013.
Michael van Niekerk, the Audacia cellar master instrumental in pioneering the new winemaking process on Audacia, said at the time;“The launch of this new category of ‘healthier option’ wine allows people who are allergic to Sulphur Dioxide, or other chemical preservatives often used in winemaking, to enjoy a glass of wine without the normal side effects associated with sulphur preservatives. It is also an alternative option for wine drinkers who care about what they put into their bodies”.
A product related beverage patent has been registered by Red Dawn (IP) Holdings to protect the South African innovation on a global basis. The Red Dawn purpose is to uplift and enhance the lives of South African farming communities, who depend on the sustainable growth of the Rooibos and Honeybush industries, by generating added value to beverage products, see www.reddawnip.co.za for patent details and access to use.
Audacia is 22 hectares in size, with 18 hectares under vine. The vineyards can be found on predominantly south–facing slopes, ideal for cultivation since they are cooler than north–facing ones. These slopes vary from being as steep as 20% to almost 0% on the wide alluvial terrace. The defining feature of the farm is the Bonte River which created the valley and forms Audacia's southern boundary.
Malbec is a red wine grape variety. The grapes have an inky dark colour and robust tannins. Long known as one of the six grapes allowed to be used in the blend of red Bordeaux wines, French plantings of Malbec are found primarily in Cahors in the southwest region of France. It has been cultivated extensively under the name Côt in the Loire Valley as well as in the Midi region since the 1700s. Malbec has adapted well to local conditions with the wines having a unique aroma and taste and can work equally well as a cultivar wine, or blended with other red wine cultivars.
This cultivar is of French origin where it has been grown in the Medoc region for many years and is used principally in classic Bordeaux blends. The wine shows good colour and is tannin rich with good ageing potential. Petit Verdot is normally blended with other wines in small amounts to add tannin, colour and flavour. It is also useful in ‘stiffening’ the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.
This cultivar is of French origin where it has been grown in the Côte de Rhône since the Roman period. Syrah (as it is called in its country of origin) is a dark–skinned grape variety. Syrah is grown in many countries and is primarily used to produce powerful red wines, which enjoy great popularity in the marketplace under the synonym, “Shiraz”.
Cabernet Franc is one of the major varieties of red wine grape grown in Bordeaux. It is mostly grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but is also vinified alone. The wine made from Cabernet Franc grapes resembles that of Cabernet Sauvignon but is softer and consumable at an earlier age. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and the style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, and cassis, or sometimes violets.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most famous and widely recognised red wine grape varieties. It is grown in most major wine producing countries. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognised first through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Merlot – (pronounced: MERL–oh) is a red wine grape that is used in blends and as a varietal wine. Merlot–based wines usually have medium body with hints of berries, plums, and currants. Its softness and “fleshiness,” combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot an ideal grape to blend with the sterner, later–ripening Cabernet Sauvignon.
Roobernet is a red wine grape cultivar that was hybridised by Professor Orffer from the University of Stellenbosch. This cultivar was released for commercial production in 1990. It is a cross between Pontac and Cabernet Sauvignon, hence the red juice of the grapes (also found in Pontac). The wine characteristics resemble that of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The major types of soils found on Audacia are Estcourt, Tukulu and Dundee / Westleigh, all of which have excellent water retaining capacity which is vital in view of global warming predictions. Gone are the days when South African wine farmers would scorn colleagues 'anderkant die berg' (on the other side of the mountain) in warmer regions who were forced to irrigate their vines. Irrigation has become crucial to most modern wine farming operations to prevent excessive stress on the vines.
All Audacia vineyards were equipped with supplemental drip irrigation when the new vineyards were established with water supplied from the Theewaterskloof dam. The farm's own dam (filled by the Bonte River) is not just for the ducks which waddle around Audacia, but also provides water for irrigation and general farm use.
As the crow flies, Audacia is 20km from the cool waters of False Bay and lies at between 80m and 120m above sea level. This is relevant because of the influence of cool air moving inland from the cool ocean. These breezes are essential for cooling during South Africa's hot summers when it's vital that the grape vines don't get too hot and shut down photosynthesis. Think of it as natural air conditioning! Being located in a gentle valley is highly advantageous as Audacia is thus protected from strong storm winds which could potentially damage the vines at crucial stages of their growth.
Winter temperatures range between 4C and 15C while in summer the mercury rises to between 19C and a maximum of 36C.
The average rainfall is around 750mm, ample for Audacia's grape growing requirements – with supplemental irrigation used only when needed.
Audacia subscribes to the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) and is both registered and authorised by The Wine and Spirit Board as an accredited IPW producer. This programme entails the use of the latest information and technology to track all aspects of production – both in the vineyard and cellar – in order to guarantee environmentally friendly practices.
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