Despite the pressure placed on my physical and mental stamina, a marathon wine-appreciation session this week-end past has me beating the South African Chardonnay Drum with admirable vigour this Monday morning.
When talk of Lourensford Wine Estate first started hitting the wine scene some 20 years ago, expectations were simply stratospheric. This is a magnificent old farm above Somerset-West, part of WA van der Stel’s spread going back to 1709. And if all the reports and hype were to be believed back then, Lourensford was going to be unlike anything the wine industry had ever seen.
Ek het verlede jaar hierdie brief vir Spatz geskryf. Deur Stellenbosch Visio. Ek wonder of hy dit gelees het. Rus in Vrede, meneer Legende.
Beste mnr Sperling
Vir almal is jy Spatz, maar ongelukkig sukkel ek om jou met ’n mossiekuiken te vergelyk, soos wat jou Duitse bynaam beteken. Met jou kenmerkende breërand hoed, kruisbande, fors fisieke teenwoordigheid en permanente wye blink glimlag is die beeld van ’n kuiken van enige aard nou nie juis wat by my verskyn wanneer ek dink aan Michael Spatz Sperling nie. Miskien eerder ’n arend as ’n mossie – ’n wyse arend vol durf en versiendheid en grasie wat met die lugstrome teen die rotswande van Simonsberg sweef en afkyk op Delheim en sien hoe hierdie prins van wynplase nou lyk, en dan terugdink hoe dit was toe jy in 1951 hier aangekom het.
There’s been a lot of talk about the recorking of old South African wines currently being undertaken by Joaquim Sá of Amorim Cork, but for me the real revelation was the contents of those bottles. It was, indeed, rivetingly exciting watching Jean Vincent Ridon, a world-leader in cork-extraction, prying open the dust-covered antiquities with surgical-like precision and refined expertise.
Being a result of humanity and culture, wine is inextricably linked to the language spoken in the regions where it is made. That is why, as I have stated before, one cannot truly understand the completer depths of the South African wine industry without a basic knowledge of Afrikaans.
I was wondering when someone in South Africa was going to do the recorking of older vintages, as the case is in Europe, Australia and America. Kanonkop the first, and not the last. Check out their press-release:
In a bid to assist loyal customers to enjoy and keep its premier wines for longer, Kanonkop Wine Estate has introduced a recorking service for owners of older vintages. The first Kanonkop Recorking Clinic is to be held in Johannesburg on 12 October, and 22 November on Kanonkop Estate where proprietor Johann Krige and cellarmaster Abrie Beeslaar will personally oversee the recorking of bottles dating back to the 2005 vintage and older.
Cape Town might be synonymous with the growing of wine grapes and drinking of the fermented juice since 1659, but the city had to wait until this year to get its own demarcated wine district. In May the South African wine authorities accepted a proposal from the wine areas of Constantia and Durbanville, both a one-winged seagull’s fly from the City Centre, to establish a Wine of Origin Cape Town district. This means that the wine folk of Constantia and Durbanville will be able to officially use the name of the Mother City on their wine bottles.
There are two sides to the glorious classical wine estate that is Morgenster, and I am heading for the wilder side. Corius Visser, farm manager, shifts the bakkie into four-wheel drive and heads up into the hillside of Schapenberg, the famous vineyard-growing region on the Somerset-West side of Stellenbosch wine country.
The ninth Backsberg Vino Varsity inter-university wine challenge saw Stellenbosch take the laurels due to their near-perfect execution of the basics. Superior wine knowledge and breath-taking tasting skills had the Stellenbosch Wine Culture Society beat the UCT Wine Society into second place, while University of Pretoria struggled to keep up with the pace, ending third. Continue reading
Daring to question the praising of old vineyards places one in the same category as those supporting rhino poaching, the clubbing of baby seals and the banning of anything sounding like Leonard Cohen. South Africa has an enthusiastic Support the Old Vines lobby. With the zeal an anti-foie gras activist would be proud of, these lobbyists host emotional wine tastings underscoring the need for seasoned patches of weary vineyards to be conserved. For not only do such geriatric vineyards produce remarkable wines – apparently – they form an integral part of the country’s vinous legacy in terms of cultural and human provenance.
It is the role of a journalist to remain objective in such matters. That is why it is important to also look at reasonable and informed voices holding a different view on this sensitive, yet ubiquitous topic. Bruwer Raats, a highly respected winemaker who usually lets his Raats Family wines do the talking, recently stepped out of the cellar to offer Wineland Magazine his take. Herewith the translation from the original Afrikaans: