One of the heavier burdens those in the wine industry have to bear, is the misperception that said individual has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all aspects vinous. It is simply assumed that those writing about or working in wine have a vastly superior frame of reference on the subject than the mere mortal who simply enjoys sipping the odd glass, instagramming irreverent wine labels or taking a selfie with some startled wine-maker found perusing the dog-food aisle at Spar.
There’s a hell of a lot going on in a good glass of Cabernet Franc. Shy this variety ain’t, tending to emit perfumed wafts nose-wards before gushing into the palate where a crunchy red-fruited flavour medley oozes zippy juiciness, finishing with sunny herbs and an exotic spice.
Laurie Cooper has been crowned Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier 2019. At age 28, she is the winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the first family-owned estate to produce wines from the province. Together with her father, she runs all the viticulture and viniculture on the 4 hectare estate.
It was time to go in, right to the heart of the Stellenbosch Mafia. Guy who wrote the book about them, Pieter du Toit, well he reckons the local mobsters hang out at a joint named De Volkskombuis, pretty hard to pronounce for two New York wiseguys like me and Frankie the Juice. But nothing a little google-translate ain’t sorting out. Volks the kombuis and go volks yourselves, too.
One of the oldest white wine grapes in South Africa and still today the most widely planted, Chenin Blanc is being promoted as a national treasure. Over the past decade or so there has been a huge resurgence in the punting of Chenin as one of the local wine industry’s factors unique selling points, and quite rightly so.
If Chardonnay is not regarded to be an aromatic grape, what the hell is going on in this glass of Glenelly? Perhaps it was the dull, grey weather following a late-winter cold front or the impending gloom concerning another piece of news originating in the areas of State Capture or Bosasa that caused the senses to be so surreptitiously sparked by this wine. But there, sitting in Glenelly’s Vine Bistro with a piece of gelatinous pork-cheek, fat and sauce oozing in all directions, it was a Chardonnay made to rethink the border-transcending possibilities of the grape.
It tastes of mountain, sun, sea and Stellenbosch. “And fynbos,” says Christo le Riche, head of the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective, the regional organisation formed in 2015 to get eyes seeing and mouths tasting what many deem to be one of the finest wine offerings in the world: Cabernet Sauvignon wines made in Stellenbosch from vines planted to the region’s ancient soils.
Bordeaux wine region: is it selling its soul? The French are famous for their rigorous traditional laws concerning their country’s regions of origin and what is permitted inside those regions. Now there’s a proposal to allow new grape varieties into Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellation vineyards.
The wines of Bordeaux have, after all, achieved their pre-eminent reputation on the back of the varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. But now seven varieties foreign to the region are being considered as a result of the effects of climate change and their being more resistant to disease.
So me and Frankie the Juice are not hot-footing it back to the Big Apple after our unsuccessful attempts to track-down this bunch calling themselves the Stellenbosch Mafia so as to politely enquire as to their relations with the Mob. No, we are still holed-up in the Cape on account of an assignment we’s got from the Don’s neighbour, Sockeye Salvatore, the job being to go and whack a Ukrainian gangster in a joint called Sea Point.
Icy rain pelting down over Stellenbosch and a wine cold enough to freeze the heart of a twice-divorced Texan housewife, this was no ideal day to go tasting Sauvignon Blanc. But when Erica Crawford from New Zealand is in town you’ll dodge polar bears to get a hook on those steely, bracing wines from Marlborough.
Ex-Capetonian Erica is a quiet force in the Kiwi wine industry. The former medical researcher headed to the Land of the Long White Cloud in 1990 to join husband Kim, a New Zealand winemaker whom she had met while he was doing a stint in the Cape Winelands, including Backsberg. In Auckland the Crawfords found themselves at the beginning of the wine world’s interest in New Zealand and began the Kim Crawford brand out of their garage in Auckland.