Saxenburg

IndustryWhat are Belgium wine enthusiasts pouring in their wine glass?

What are Belgium wine enthusiasts pouring in their wine glass?

Interview with Frederic Van Bael (Wine at Heart) Belgium

How has the wine culture evolved in Belgium?

While we’re traditionally very French and Italian-minded in our wine culture, there has been a time that the so-called ‘New World Wines’ were very popular. Richer, bolder wines, often from a warmer climate. Now you can definitely see an evolution toward ‘cool climate wines. I guess climate change has an impact on this trend. I feel more and more a tendency for fresher wines. Lighter, but without losing structure and taste, of course.  Apart from that, there’s a fast-growing winemaking culture in Belgium. It has been slowly developing for years, but in the last two or three years, it’s growing faster, with better and better wines. Still, production is still quite low (there’s not much space here).

What are the top three white and red varietals that Belgians enjoy most?

Top White Varietals are Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay (these are for sure still the top two, in random order), followed by, probably, Chenin Blanc or Grüner Veltliner

Top Red Varietals are harder to determine as there’s not one that really stands out. Red wines come more often in a blend: Tempranillo, Syrah (or Shiraz), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir are definitely very popular. But also Grenache, Merlot, and Malbec are very well known

What are 3 key factors that Belgians look for when buying wine?

The most important factors for Belgians buying wine are price/quality (that’s the number one), a sense of uniqueness or exclusiveness (that they can buy something special that’s not to be found everywhere), and last but not least (and this is, unfortunately, no joke): Looks! This may seem crazy, but the look of a bottle, the label, and the packaging are very important too. A lot of people still choose a wine because, and I quote: “It looks good”. I know, crazy, but true. And as a fourth factor, I still might add good advice.  People also like to be advised by a professional. Luckily!

How do your customers perceive South African wines?

South African wines stand mostly as good wines, with a good price and quality perception, Not many people that aren’t necessarily big fans of ‘New World Wines’ actually do love South African wines, as they are considered leaning much closer to a ‘European Style’ Does that make any sense? South African wines are definitely considered the best, outside of Europe. Also, some areas such as Swartland or Elgin gain in popularity. Stellenbosch still remains the reference though.

What is in your opinion, a distinguishing factor about Saxenburg’s wines?

I think that the Saxenburg wines are distinguished by their excellent balance between structure and refinement, between being full-flavored, yet elegant. I truly think that in the last few years, the Saxenburg wines are becoming more and more complex, layered, and balanced.

In the whites, especially the Private Collection Chardonnay, it’s becoming more and more obvious: still pretty full-bodied in approach, but with more refinement and refreshing acidity. More of a finer Burgundy style (sorry, but most people still compare every wine with a French or Italian classic). I personally love this development, and my customers clearly are too!

But also in the reds, you notice it, and I’m particularly thinking of the Private Collection Syrah, and also the Pinotage. Same evolution here: still all the taste, flavour, and character, but with just that bit more elegance, which gives it a real upgrade. I’m very happy with this evolution and I’m looking forward to the next vintages where I think this will be confirmed.

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