KWV salutes SA wine pioneer Dr Charles Niehaus

Tuesday, 8 November, 2011
Leading producer of premium global wines KWV has paid tribute to the father of the iconic Roodeberg with the unveiling of Dr Charles Niehaus, a wine as distinctive as its founder.
Dr Niehaus was a pioneer of the South African wine industry, a supremely skilled wine specialist who was widely respected and liked.

Mention the name Roodeberg and it conjures up fond memories of people, places and occasions. This famous wine from KWV has been a part of South Africa’s wine heritage since 1949, beloved on home soil as much as it is on tables in foreign continents too. Across the world, the wine has been part of memorable occasions – from intimate gatherings to grand presidential inaugurations – so easily recalled with the opening of each bottle.

Today, the link between Dr Niehaus and Roodeberg is cemented with the birth of a new wine. “A world-class wine, the Dr Charles red blend is made with the same philosophies that have stood Roodeberg in good stead over decades,” says Richard Rowe, KWVs chief winemaker. “It is distinctively different; a premium wine for an international palate.”

A legend in his time, Dr Charles – as he affectionately was called – was a trail blazer of South Africa’s sherry industry and occupies a proud place in KWV’s heritage.

In 1941 he took over the fledgling range of dry wines from the former chief wine expert Dr Abraham Izak Perold. The germination of the wine to become Roodeberg did not happen overnight, but evolved from a succession of blends. Dr Niehaus had been carefully experimenting with other varieties in the blend. But it was the advent of Shiraz in the Cape in the late forties that brought about a drastic change. Right from the start Dr Niehaus formed part of a small band of proponents for this cultivar, the ideal component for a deep new dimension in his famous creation.

He retired in 1971 having left an indelible mark on the South African wine industry. The torch he first lit has however, been borne ever since in the making of the renowned blend by a string of great winemakers. To this day, Dr Niehaus is remembered for his stern, orderly disposition and big, compassionate heart.

In many ways, this reflects the character of the wine that today bears his name. An intricate wine, it has upfront blackberry, blackcurrant and cassis fruit flavours complemented by chocolate, butterscotch and subtle spice. Depth is leant by its generosity, fruitiness and elegance on the palate with a seamless structure and a smooth, rewarding finish – ideal on its own or with roast beef or flavourful game dishes.

The wine is a blend of 50% Shiraz, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Grapes from chosen vineyards in Stellenbosch, Somerset West and Darling were used to craft this wine. Each block was carefully chosen for its varietal characteristics and terroir expression. The vineyards in Stellenbosch and Somerset West are located high above sea level and close to the ocean. Being so close to a large body of water regulates temperature and ensures that fruit develops slowly in a temperate, cool climate. The Stellenbosch vineyards are also planted in unique soils, referred to as “coffee stone”, that offer optimal vine growth conditions, water retention and draining. Vineyards from the Darling area offer intensity of grape flavours due to the soils in which they are planted in combination with the climatic conditions. Available from KWV’s Wine Emporium in Paarl as well as select retail outlets nationwide, the Dr Charles retails for approximately R199 per bottle and is presented in a beautifully crafted gift pack.

Today, the memory of Dr Charles lives on in a wine as destined to become as great as this legendary man was.