Creation Rosé 2022 Cape South Coast

Creation winery and vineyards

A rosé that tastes as good in a chilly British spring as it did in the humid tropics.

From 150 rand, €13.50, $20, £16, 110 Swiss francs per case of 6

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I first tasted this wine on the warm and humid island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, where I was judging in a competition that was part of the Constance hotel group’s annual Festival Culinaire, set up in memory of the French three-star chef Bernard Loiseau, who took his own life in 2003, partly because of the stress related to achieving and holding on to the Michelin stars.

Humidity – like the dry atmosphere of an aeroplane cabin at altitude – can have quite an effect on the taste of a wine, especially more tannic red wines, which are often rather closed, but this South African rosé was open, fragrant, expressive and fresh as a daisy both in the heat of a mildly tropical climate and back home in the cool London spring – with the depth of red-fruit flavour and just the degree of freshness to match plainly roasted chicken as well as mildly spicy chicken massaman curry. The light tannins are so well judged that you could also drink this without food. (Creation, which has a rather good restaurant, even have recipe suggestions on their website.)

Swiss-born Jean-Claude Martin and his South African wife Carolyn (a member of the Finlayson family, which has played and continues to play a significant role in Cape wine), planted their first vines in Hemel-en-Aarde, in the ocean-cooled Walker Bay wine region, two decades ago, harvesting their first grapes in 2006. Looking at the photo of their farm above, it is not surprising that they were voted the number one vineyard in Africa in 2022.

JC Martin in Creation vineyards
J C Martin in the Creation vineyards at the foot of the highest peak of Babylonstoren Mountains, which have a cooling influence on the vines, in addition to that from the Atlantic Ocean

This deliciously dry, fruity yet elegant rosé is an unusual blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Viognier, the latter, says Carolyn Martin, ‘to add white floral notes and white peach’, which indeed it does, as well enhancing the smooth texture. (NB I am using 'fruity' here in the strict sense of flavoured with fruit, not in the sense of 'not quite dry', which is quite common but misleading.) The alcohol is somewhere between the 12.5% stated on the label and the 13.5% on the technical sheet – whatever the exact figure, it is well integrated.

Some of the Grenache comes from 18-year-old vines planted on decomposed shale and clay-loam soils on the Creation estate in Hemel-en-Aarde, some from another vineyard 3 km away on their other farm called Vrede, just below the Pebbles Project, where Creation is a founder member. Because Vrede is in the Overberg District, the wine is labelled Cape South Coast rather than Hemel-en-Aarde.

The varieties are fermented separately in stainless-steel tanks and blended before bottling. The Grenache is whole-berry pressed (ie not crushed) without any extended skin contact because they want to extract as little colour as possible from the berry skins. It’s a healthy pink, prettily pale rather than anaemic in the Provençal style. The packaging of the screwcapped bottle is minimalist and stylish even if the clear glass bottle, used on so many rosé wines to show off the colour, may not be the best protection against the possible effects of direct light.

Creation rosé bottle and glass

It goes to show that the wines you taste by the beach can taste just as good when the skies are grey and the central heating is gurgling in the background.

Thanks to the several online shops and the direct-to-consumer partnerships that Creation has set up, the wine is widely available around the world. The link above is not to but to Creation’s own international shopping page, including the Creation shop in the UK and Cape Ardor in the US, which apparently ships to most states. It’s an efficient way to sell directly to consumers, especially to wine lovers who have visited the estate and want to be able to buy the wines when the get home. In the US, Creation wines are also imported by Spartina Imports, who tell me that the rosé is currently available in Colorado and Texas and will soon be in DC, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Florida.

We have thousands more notes on rosé wines in our tasting notes database but for our most recent round-up of rosés from around the world, see Tam's Rosé – a winter perspective. All photos are courtesy of Creation.