Radford Dale Thirst Gamay 2018
There’s not much Gamay in South Africa – just 13.3 hectares planted. The Thirst Gamay is freshly bottled and needs decanting before we tasted it, but this really is a lovely wine, even this early on in its life. Alex also makes a brilliant Cinsault under the same ‘The Thirst’ label. Radford Dale was founded in 1998, by drinking buddies and youthful idealists Ben Radford and Alex Dale. They set up Radford Dale with the objective of making high-quality wines from the vineyards spread across the Western Cape. Alex and Ben have many years of wine experience between them, which reflects in the quality of wines that they craft under this label.
When Barossa-born Ben went back to his homeland some years later, Alex stayed on and decided to develop Radford Dale into one of the very best wine names in the country. And he did. Only 13 hectares of Gamay Noir are planted in South Africa and this vineyard is situated on the lower slopes of the on the Eastern bank of the Berg River with a West facing aspect. Low, single wire trellising and the sprawling growth pattern of the variety mean that grapes are carried within the canopy, which shelters the thin-skinned bunches from too much direct sunlight, thus conserving natural acidity and freshness. The vineyard was planted in 1984 so yields are small, as can be expected from a vineyard of this age.
“You don’t need smoke and mirrors to make great wine. You need good earth, good air, good weather, good fruit and good people. Our goal is to make the best possible wines, without all the hype and swagger. We don’t do things for commercial reasons or “just because”. We don’t do things because that’s how they’ve always been done. We do whatever is needed to make a wine that speaks for itself and especially where it’s from. Many producers make wines to win prestigious awards, but we’re not part of the glory system. People buy into the virtues of our wines and what we stand for. Our wines don’t chase trophies, but they’re more complex and balanced than the ones that do. Our consumers love them for their attitude and taste. And that’s all the recognition we need.”
Thirst Gamay is a refreshing, naturally made wine, with minimal intervention. The Gamay is a lean and light wine, but by no means simple. Welcoming red fruit flavours, with savoury, expressive red fruits, herbaceous tomato-leaf and a fantastic length. There are earthy notes that add texture and supple tannins to the palate. Thirst Gamay matches perfectly with charcuterie, grilled fish or salads. Best served chilled.