From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “Luddite”:
“One of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; broadly : one who is opposed to especially technological change.”
I think that South African winemaker Nils Verburg would identify his winemaking philosophy with the latter rather than the former definition.
To quote him from his website, they “…are unabashed luddites who apply a technology-resistant philosophy to their methods, farming conscientiously with minimum mechanization” and aiming to make a wine that’s “as natural as possible, with little or no intervention. It’s about knowing that when you buy a bottle of Luddite, what’s inside is genuine and made with integrity…”
While those are noble sentiments, I’ve had too many natural wines that are just plain bad wine-making disguised as the latest wine drinking fad. Happily, I can say that Nils’ Luddite is none of the sort, a well made, balanced wine that was genuine surprise to me when I tasted it at DVine Wine Cellars the other day.
The Luddite winery is located on the eastern slopes of the Houw Hoek Mountain in the Walker Bay region of South Africa. The vineyard gets plenty of morning sunshine which makes for long ripening and produces wines with spicy characteristics.
I tried the Luddite 2007 while I was at DVine Cellars and it was not what I was expecting; Shiraz from South Africa is not a favourite of mine but this one was a beauty. I could smell the rich aromas wafting from the glass, loads of red and black fruit mixed with vanilla notes. On the palate, a very evenly balanced wine, medium bodied, bursting with fruit flavours and an intensity of flavour that lingered long after the wine was gone. The one characteristic I noticed or rather lack of it, was a certain green stalkiness that one often finds in South African red wines. I would also like to add that there are sulfites in the wine, which when we are talking natural wines, is no bad thing.
I’m glad to see that these Luddites are on the right track. The Luddite 2007 Shiraz is available from DVine Cellars and costs £26.50