The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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Page 48 of 120

48  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 TRENDS F or most people, the concept of a sweet red wine is a challenge," admits André Shearer, co-founder and CEO of Cape Classics, an importer of South African and French wine. But that hasn't dissuaded the South African native from chatting up Jam Jar, a sweet Shiraz, in a collective conversation increasingly dominated by the merits of minerality. With fluency in four languages, Shearer has no problems "talking the talk" as he sets out to change minds about the S-word. And, it seems, people are listening. Sales for Jam Jar grew 20 percent since last year, thanks to an attractive price point ($10–12 SRP), a nostalgic visual reference in its packaging and leveraging a global preference—especially among Millennials— for sweet wines. Last year, Nielsen analysts reported a spike in sales of Italian- imported Moscato—up 26.3% by volume for the 52 weeks ending January 4. The year before, U.S. Moscato sales were up 13 percent by volume in 2013. "We have a very vocal consumer via social media," says Shearer, noting the typical Jam Jar drinker is a "very feminine, mid-20s female who over-shares on social media." The brand's Facebook page has 10,405 "likes" most of which are in the 24–44 age range. "Unbeknownst to us, there was a very particular market and strong following," he said. "It's become a phenomenon in its own way on and off-premise. Our job is to be custodian of the wine that has grown on its own." The unabashedly jammy juice—60 grams per liter of residual sugar—is sold in retailers like Whole Foods, Costco and the Publix supermarket chain, and is available in all 50 states as well as Iceland, Canada and the U.K. Despite its alignment with sweet wines, Shearer says Jam Jar is a South African wine with no real connection to the category. Unlike many "pop" wines, Jam Jar, he says, has provenance with identifiable vineyards. And just like granny making homemade jam, there is real winemaking behind the label. The grapes are cultivated in a region that mimics the Rhône Valley's climate. They are handpicked and de-stemmed before undergoing natural fermentation in stainless steel tanks, using only natural yeasts. Thirty percent of the wine is aged for six months in French and American oak. The wine's composition—ripe black and raspberries laced with chocolate—makes it food friendly with most sweet and savory cuisines, or chilled in summer as an aperitif. Hitting the Sweet Spot by Lana Bortolot / photos by Doug Young " SOUTH AFRICA'S JAM JAR RESONATES WITH A NEW DEMOGRAPHIC André Shearer, co- founder and CEO of Cape Classics, an importer of South African and French wine. Jam Jar Sweet White. Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz.

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