Two More Kids of Cap Classique

Pierre de Klerk, Graham Beck Wines

There must be a certain degree of the enviable when Cap Classique producers look at Graham Beck Wines. Not only for the immense presence of this leading South African brand in the local and international markets, but also to the team responsible for creating a range of classy Cap Classiques in considerable volume. There is Pieter Ferreira, the voice of Cap Cassique, as Graham Beck’s chief operating officer, with Pierre de Klerk riding shotgun in the role of cellar master.

Some 13 years after joining Graham Beck under the auspices of Pieter, Pierre has become a recognised Cap Classique man in his own right, acknowledged today as one of the category’s most skilled, visionary and thoughtful practitioners. Not bad for someone who during his initial job interview told Pieter, “I know nothing about bubbly.”

How times have changed.

“Looking back now, I can hardly believe I uttered those words in Pieter’s presence, as today every aspect of Cap Classique holds for me mystery, intrigue and fascination,” he muses. “It is a wine that is challenging and frightening for a winemaker, as well as immensely rewarding.”

Being a specialist Cap Classique operation, for Graham Beck the focus, heart-beat and life-blood is the nuanced sparkling wine created from the right grapes, grown on suitable soils and bottle-fermented to allow the magic of the bubble to occur. Fashion and image might play a major role in the appreciation of the final product. But getting there can be interpreted, as Pierre is not shy to admit, as rather geeky.

“Yes, it is about detail from the word go,” he says. “Making Cap Classique takes no prisoners and doesn’t allow you to take your eye off the ball.”

There is the pinpoint accuracy of determining the days for picking the grapes. “Using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in early stages of ripening to get the right levels of acidity for the base wine means we have a two-week window to get the grapes to the cellar,” explains Pierre.

“There is no recipe here. Each year presents grapes with their own characteristics, so decisions must be made on fermentation yeasts, different vessels for ageing various sections of base wine, accurately blending to get to the desired style of each final wine, dosage composition… The degree of patience involved in all this was something I had to learn, but fortunately I’ve got it now.”

According to the Graham Beck ethos, the importance of terroir in creating its Cap Classiques is non-negotiable in the continuous pursuit of perfection. Pierre and his team select Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from 12 regions in the Cape Winelands, each area providing distinctive flavour profiles and palate expressions. “I get into the vineyards of our 25 different grape-farmers as much as I can, because this is where it all starts. Here Cap Classique is blessed, with ourselves and other producers having access to a varied spectrum of grape diversity that allows us to compose our wines from a varied palette of terroir expressions.”

A discernible challenge in making Cap Classique that fascinates Pierre is that elusive striving for perfection. As Pieter Ferreira says, “Quality is not a destination, it is a journey.” And Pierre concurs.

“We are always seeking new ways, methods and influences in our approach to Cap Classique,” he says. “Secondary fermentation under cork instead of the traditional crown cap, for example. Exposing the base wine to clay amphorae… There are so many steps in the process of Cap Classique that despite what we have achieved with this wine style over the years, I sometimes think we are only just scratching the surface.”

Danielle Coetsee, Boschendal

She walks in the footsteps of giants, but with tremendous ease, efficiency and a seemingly unflappable serenity. As winemaker responsible for Cap Classique production at Boschendal Estate in Drakenstein, Danielle Coetsee is all too aware of the fact that she bears the legacy of one of the Cape’s leading wine brands that was an early pioneer of Cap Classique. It was here that the legendary Achim von Arnim made Boschendal’s first Cap Classique in 1981, the second winery to do so after Simonsig’s Frans Malan started it all 10 years earlier.

“I think legacy and tradition play a major role in Boschendal’s overall image as a premium producer of Cap Classique,” says Danielle. “With a history going back to 1685, generations of legendary winemakers and being a brand that has been part of South Africa’s wine history for as long as most people can remember, Boschendal has achieved icon status. My job of making Cap Classique thus comes with a lot of responsibility in ensuring that our legacy continues. But working for an established and admired brand is a tremendous inspiration – that and my total obsession with Cap Classique.”

Danielle showed her prowess with Cap Classique from an early age. She was only in her 20s when, in 2019, she made her way to the rostrum to receive the award on behalf of Boschendal as overall winner of the annual Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, the leading competition committed to honouring winemakers in this category.

“Actually, I don’t really take to the term wine-‘maker’,” says Danielle. “The process of getting something like Cap Classique from vineyard to bottle is such an extensive, multi-faceted journey involving nature, science and various people along the way that I see myself as a guide more than a maker of something tangible. Although the final responsibility does lie with me.”

In this ‘guiding’ from grape to bottle to glass, the magic for her lies in the detailed steps required to get to the final product, as well as the sensory skills involved along the way.

“I love getting into the vineyards when I can, harvesting and creating the base wine and then seeing the wines come alive with bubbles during the secondary fermentation in bottle,” she enthuses. “But the result depends on me and on the team’s analysing of the wines’ flavour profiles and aromas to ensure the final product is of the standard expected of Boschendal. That makes it such a terrifically rewarding job, knowing you have to rely on your senses to get to the final result.”

Recognised as one of the Cape’s leading Cap Classique specialists, Danielle’s inspiration for this wine style lies in just that: the style.

“Cap Classique is the closest one can come to having something in your glass that is alive,” she says. “I have never been sad when pouring and holding a glass of bubbly, and the fact that this is such a beloved product among consumers reminds me that I am not the only one who feels this way. As a winemaker, it is just such great reward when you meet the final product after all the time and patience it has demanded of you. When I see those bubbles rising in the glass, it as if the wine is giving me a wink and saying, ‘Congratulations, we did it!’”

The Mavens of Cap Classique

Shirley van Wyk, Terre Paisible
Like all the fine sparkling elixirs made from the vine, Cap Classique depends on an image of style, class and elegance as much as it does on that engaging pop of the cork and the effervescent rush of flavours on the palate. Shirley van Wyk, MD of Terre Paisible in Franschhoek, for me has always been the embodiment of this element of style and grace in wine marketing. Coupled with this is her love of Cap Classique and fervent ambition to see it at the top end of the Cape’s wine offerings, comfortably standing alongside Champagne and the rest that the world has to offer in terms of things sparkling.
No surprise then that when she was tasked to make of Terre Paisible a world-class destination for wine, food and accommodation, overseeing the presence of a premium Cap Classique was at the top of her agenda.

“As a wine category, Cap Classique has leapt to the forefront of our country’s wines, in terms of quality as well as image and status,” she says. “Fifty-two years after the first South African sparkling wine was made in this style of bottle fermentation, we find ourselves with a diverse array of Cap Classique wines that exude excellence and express the amazing terroir of the Cape’s wine regions. These can proudly stand alongside Champagne, Prosecco and Cava and, as one who has an international outlook in terms of realising the potential of Brand South Africa, I believe this recognition of Cap Classique as a local product desired in a global context is something we in the industry must advance.”

As a marketing specialist and brand custodian with experience in California and South Africa, Shirley is no stranger to the wines that sparkle. Working in the Los Angeles film industry made Champagne a part of her everyday life. And in the Cape Shirley headed up marketing for Boschendal, one of the country’s first Cap Classique producers, where she played a major role in taking Boschendal Cap Classique to new heights in creating an image of style and desirability, especially in the so-called ‘new market’.
“The beauty of marketing and promoting Cap Classique – and I’m sure the same goes for the promoters of Champagne and Prosecco – is that it’s about more than the quality of the product; it’s about the image and expectation,” she says.

“The brand and every detail in that brand need as much attention as the quality of grapes, the chemistry of the base wine and the levels of dosage. One can equate it to the world of fashion. When a designer creates a beautiful gown, they ensure it is worn and seen so that it can be fully appreciated. However, if the fabric or stitching of the gown are not exquisite, the complete design will lose its lustre. Quality is the ingredient that ensures an exquisite design becomes desirable and truly valuable. Similarly, crafting an exceptional Cap Classique is only half the fairytale – how it is presented is what creates the magic.”

At Terre Paisible, winemaker Adam Mason has created the Vivre Cap Classique, a Blanc de Blancs expressing the property’s terroir and ability to offer a sparkling wine of energy, refreshment and life (vivre). “What I love about creating a Cap Classique brand is that one does not have to make excuses for offering a luxury product,” says Shirley. “And with luxury at the core of Terre Paisible’s total offering, this is one Cap Classique that came naturally for me.”

Lizemari Geldenhuys, Kleine Zalze

There is a well-worn adage that wine is made in the vineyard. Well, as the late wine legend Duimpie Bayly loved to retort to this statement, “The vineyard is important, but no one wins the Durban July without a jockey.” In other words, it is the winemaker who defines and determines the final outcome. And few, if any, wine styles are as dependent on the consistent involvement of a winemaker as Cap Classique.

And this suits Lizemari Geldenhuys, winemaker at Stellenbosch’s Kleine Zalze Wines responsible for the winery’s range of Cap Classiques, to the proverbial tee.

“That’s what I love about making Cap Classique: the fact that the wine in each bottle is individual, undergoing its own secondary fermentation process in that bottle,” she says. “This and other aspects of the category allow a winemaker to be creative in determining each specific style of Cap Classique, as you are basically making two wines.

“The first is the base wine from early-harvested grapes with bracing acidity that must carry through to ensure freshness in the final wine, while demanding attention in the cellar to ensure complexity and character. Making the ‘second’ wine involves priming it with a yeast portion I call the ‘yeast bomb’. This bomb I have to get started, feeding and growing it like you do when preparing a yeast mother for sour-dough. The yeast is then added to the base wine, which is bottled and sealed to begin the secondary fermentation. That’s when the bubbles develop in the wine and all those typical Cap Classique flavours develop.

“All this demands my constant attention for the year or more the wine develops in the bottle, making it a hands-on wine that I find truly rewarding to make and love to see through to the end.”

Lizemari graduated from Stellenbosch University as a winemaker and viticulturist before working in California and Australia, as well as at Boschendal in the Cape. Although these experiences include none with Cap Classique, upon joining Kleine Zalze in 2016 the making of bubbly fell on her shoulders.

“It’s developed into a mild obsession,” she says. “Making Cap Classique for a big established winery such as Kleine Zalze is immensely rewarding, as you know there is a large consumer base of people loyal to the brand due to its overall reputation for wine quality. Consumers have also really taken to Cap Classique over the past decade. It is no longer something reserved for celebrations and special occasions – although no celebration is complete without Cap Classique! – but is enjoyed as part of the inclusive wine lifestyle.”

Besides the satisfaction of total involvement in the process of making Cap Classique, Lizemari and her team love the challenge of something new. The latest is a Chenin Blanc Cap Classique from the 2023 vintage.

“This is truly exciting, as it’s a wine made from registered Old Vine Chenin Blanc and, to boot, the base wine was fermented and aged in clay amphorae, giving it a unique flavour profile. But like everyone else, I will have to wait for the final product as it is now fermenting in bottle, with release pending until 2025.”

Product loyal, Lizemari opens a bottle of Cap Classique to celebrate life. “Waiting with a glass of Cap Classique is the cherry on top!”

Of Spirits and Cocktails

In the name of diversity, my drinking does include some modest partaking of elixirs other than wine. Now I am fervently preparing for summer by ensuring that my list of warm-weather refreshing drinks is up to speed, and barring one or two exceptions, the upcoming festive season will see the imbibing of a few trusty and spirited coolers.

I don’t much use the word cocktail, for this implies one requiring a set of flashy mixing-skills, donning a floral Hawaii shirt and walking around with a stainless-steel shaker. My mixed drinks are tres ordinaire and have never failed my personal wants as well as those of my guests.

Few things beat the trusty gin-and-tonic for a daytime summer drink. And with the stupendous number of flashy gins on the market, one is spoilt for choice. I don’t, however, much like the florally scented and fruity gins that are so in fashion. Gordon’s is pretty much my go to. However, the straight-up Musgrave Botanical Gin provides a perfect balance between a juniper-driven gin with a bit of vooma and some refreshing botanical flavours.

As one should always do when selecting your gin, try a neat sip to determine its suitability in terms of strength and flavour. And here Musgrave is on-point – I have even taken to drinking it neat with a bunch of ice and a slice of lemon. The immediate kick of alcohol leading to that irresistible numb, pleasurable feeling is an added incentive for knocking it back neat.

However, the G&T is this gin’s perfect home. One-third Musgrave Botanical, two thirds tonic-water and a slice of lemon….joy comes in simplicity. There is the hearty hit of gin spirit soothed by the reverberating freshness of the tonic with a citrussy lemon cut. A lovely drink. And don’t believe in all the press about the crafted tonic waters being superior – Schweppes is just fine, my dear.

Despite being of mature age, the bitterness of the Negroni has never done it for me until this winter past when I joined some fashionable ladies before a fireplace in sipping these gin drinks. One part gin, one part dry Vermouth and one part Campari and lotsa ice. This thud of crunchy bitter does have something going for it and sure does sharpen the appetite. Once again, making my own Negronis at Casa Joubert I found Musgrave totally ideal as those manly big-branded gins force the bitterness just a bit.

Having done some long-haul flying over winter I had plenty of opportunity to indulge in my favourite airport drink, namely the Bloody Mary. Vodka, tomato cocktail, ice, Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco. Why this drink appeals to me in airport lounges I cannot say, but I get a craving for a Bloody M just by seeing an airline commercial on television.

Like the G&T, I am picky about the vodka used in this bloody marvellous drink, and of late I have decided that I am a Stolichnaya fan. This once Russian spirit is now distilled in Latvia and is the perfect mixing vodka, although a few neat shots of ice-cold Stoli does have its charms in times when called for.

I mix one-third Stoli to two parts tomato cocktail with a few ice-cubes in the glass. Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco, of course….but here’s the kicker: A Swedish bar-tender recently lifted my Bloody Mary to new heights by serving it with a strip of crispy bacon. Yes, a lengthy line of golden-brown grilled bacon in the glass of Bloody M. Sipping the tomato-and-vodka drink between nibbles of crunchy bacon made this the most satisfying drink of the year so far, the only trouble being that you may really be tempted to have a Bloody Mary for breakfast.

Cap Classique and other sparkling wines are terrific bases for mixed drinks, with – talking of breakfast – the Mimosa being a case in point. Orange juice – freshly squeezed, of course – is the traditional Mimosa ingredient, with one-third juice to two-thirds fizz. However, after watching the second series of White Lotus set in Sicily where the characters were breakfasting over pineapple Mimosas I had to try this. Gorgeously fruity with the Cap Classique’s sparkly wine-flavoured fizz elevating the pineapple to new levels of cheerful, cheeky morning-drinking enjoyment.

While on the matter of sparkling wine, do not forget the Black Velvet, a mighty mixed drink especially worshipped by those of us with Irish roots.

For this, take a beer glass and fill halfway up with Guinness or any other stout – Castle Milk Stout is great – and top-up with a Cap Classique or Champagne. The quality of the fizz matters here. One sip and the name comes to life, a dark velvety curtain of creamy black stout complemented by the zingy freshness of good sparkling wine. A great drink with oysters and at times when reassuring fortification is required, deliciously.

Bruwer Raats: A Vision of Multitudes

As a winemaker, Bruwer Raats is a guy the American poet Walt Whitman would define as one containing multitudes. Wine brand builder. Son of the vineyard soil. Engaging conversationalist and promotor extraordinaire of his acclaimed wines. And now South African Winemaker of the Year, as per Tim Atkin, MW in his 2023 Special Report on South African wines.

But I’ll always remember Bruwer’s thing with rocks. First time we met for a wine chat some two decades back I expected this hearty fellow Afrikaner to braai me some wors, haul out a few bottles and chew the fat on wine and life and the world, and all that stuff. After all, I know a kindred spirit when I see one.

What I got instead was being hauled to a quiet top-level room in Bruwer’s house on Polkdadraai in Stellenbosch to look at a row of rocks placed on a gleaming wooden counter. Here were diversely shaped chunks of granite, slivers of slate and clods of shale. Then there followed a lecture on how soil and rocks and earth affect wine – and not any wine, but the wines he was then making, and continues to make. Only difference between now and back then, is the levels of success those bottles of Raats wines have accumulated locally and internationally, both commercially as well as in terms of critical acclaim.

And his hands have always been in the soil. “My father was a high school principal and wherever we moved to, he made sure to have a big garden,” says Raats. “Myself and my brother Jasper would work the garden with him, or just us two, growing vegetables and stuff. We were not a farming family, but those gardens got my mind going about soil and plants. Add this to the fact that my parents liked do drink wine and share it with us kids from an early age, and winemaking slipped onto my radar pretty easily.”

Despite this love of land and its rocks, vines and slopes, Bruwer was from the outset clear on his vision of not wanting to own a wine farm. With the benefit of hindsight and the realities of how the Cape wine industry has developed over the past three decades it can assuredly be said that when graduating from Elsenburg Agriculture College back in 1995, Bruwer was ahead of his time.

“Back then the concept of a winemaker starting his or her own brand was no industry convention,” says Bruwer. “But this is what I planned to do, the only plan. To make the best wines I wanted to make under my family name without huge investments in vineyards or wineries.”

To realise this vision, he sought experience in other parts of the world. America for the cellar technology and winemaking logistics. Germany for a scientific and very meticulous approach to viticulture. And Italy to experience the passion and personable approach of tradition and the role family and people play in making wine the cultured product it is.

Back in South Africa he did some work in the cellars of others, most notably Blaauwklippen, Delaire and Zorgvliet, but when the first own-label Raats Family wines rolled out in 2000, Bruwer’s journey to the very top echelon of the South African wine offering began.

“My focus on Chenin Blanc came at the right time, as this was at the beginning of the Chenin-revolution that saw people like Irina von Holdt and Ken Forrester take this work-horse of the Cape wine industry and turn it into what I believe the country’s most distinctive and alluring white wine,” says Bruwer, modestly not claiming the rightful role of Raats Family Wines in elevating Chenin Blanc to new levels of excellence and acclaim.

He loves Chenin Blanc’s ability to express a sense of place, in Bruwer’s case the Polkadraai Hills region in Stellenbosch. “People thought I was crazy with my commitment to Polkadraai when starting out,” he smiles. “Back then it was the arse-end of Stellenbosch wine country more known for vegetables and bulk wine production. But I have always believed in that region’s fantastic granite and dolomite soils that are more rugged and visceral in expressing the site through the vines. Until today, Polkadraai is the home of Raats Family Wines where I work closely with growers to get the grapes I want for my style.”

And in dolomite and granite Chenin Blanc can trust. As Raats Family Wines has shown over the years, the brand’s various wines express enticing degrees of variation, but all united in their steely mineral grip and energetic fruit core.

On the red side, Bruwer is known as a pioneer of Cabernet Franc, the old Loire and Bordeaux variety that way back in France, teamed up with Sauvignon Blanc to create Cabernet Sauvignon.

“I was working at Blaauwklippen in the late 1990s and came across a barrel of red with a perfume and sensual palate, the likes of which I had not experienced in Stellenbosch,” he recalls. “Upon learning this barrel was Cabernet Franc I had that ‘right, that’s it’ moment. Chenin Blanc on the white for Raats Family Wines, and Cabernet Franc on the red.”

Suffice to say that while there were only a handful or Cabernet Francs when Raats Family Wines started off, it is currently one of the most talked-about red varieties in the South African diaspora and rapidly becoming a sought-after calling card for the Cape on the local and international wine scene.

Oh, and there was the fruition of Bruwer’s vision to create an icon wine, a red Bordeaux style blend which he launched in 2004 with Mzokhona Mveme. Not only a cult wine emerged, but one of the first true partnerships between black and white wine personalities. MR Compostella it’s called, and from release it has been talked about in revered circles, being one of the consistently excellent wines that resulted in Atkin confirming Winemaker of the Year Status on Bruwer.

“It’s been an amazing journey thus far and awards like these are for sure a great honour,” says Bruwer. “My name might be on the bottle, but it’s all a team effort. This includes the growers of my grapes, the Mvemve Raats partnership and my cousin and partner Gavin Bruwer Slabbert who oversees all the vineyard management and winemaking production of our brands Raats Family Wines, Bruwer Vintners and Mvemve Raats. The most rewarding is knowing that I took decisions I wanted to take that proved to be the right ones. For my business, my family, my team as well as the people that appreciate South African wine and recognise its status as being among the best the world can offer.”

A lot of fat worth chewing.

Tide Turns for Cape Sauvignon Blanc

American base-ball legend Yogi Berra was also known for his way with words, such as when being asked whether he still goes to Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York, the Berra quipped: “Man, nobody goes to that place anymore, it’s too crowded.”

This line always reminds me of the opinions on Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa’s – and one of the world’s – most popular wines. As a variety, serious wine circles are lean in allowing mention of or encouraging discussion on Sauvignon Blanc due to its image of being commercially successful, extensive in its presence on the wine shelves, and widely likeable. Enjoyable, it is, to the millions of people who reach for the wine’s fresh, vital approachability.

Those who frown on this variety and its wines, well, I can read your mind: Like the novels of John Grisham, the films of Jerry Bruckheimer and the tunes of Taylor Swift, your cultured opinion states that if it is omnipresent and appeals to the populace, then this must be devoid of profound merit and lacking in profundity.

Tim Atkin MW, South Africa’s most loveable international wine voice, summed it up acutely. When asked to attend an international Sauvignon Blanc gig in Marlborough, New Zealand a while back he stated that he was unavailable for the event as rearranging his sock-drawer was more important.

But the waves in the world of wine are always alternating directions, the currents ever-shifting. Thus, Sauvignon Blanc appears to be moving in a direction towards its commanding more attention as a fine wine variety rather than a one-dimensional agreeable quaffer. While it might handsomely add to the bank balance of its producers, the cultivar is also becoming worthy of filling the editorial space so keenly devoted to “sexier” and “off-centre” white cultivars.

RJ Botha, cellarmaster at Kleine Zalze Wines in Stellenbosch and chairperson of Sauvignon BlancSA, is realising this. During this year’s FNB Sauvignon BlancSA Top 10 he said it’s opportune to talk less of the commercial success and overall popularity of South African Sauvignon Blanc. “Now is the time to get the message out that our Sauvignon Blancs are diverse in their expressions of the Cape’s multi-dimensional terroir, but also to grow the emphasis on the attention and adventurous approach Cape winemakers are using to ensure their Sauvignon Blancs are world-class in complexity and structure,” he said. “While it will always be one of the world’s most popularly enjoyable wines, Sauvignon Blanc does not have to stand-back when it comes to offering excellence and status as a world-great variety.”

RJ Botha

RJ’s words were scarcely cold when Andrew Mellish from Mellish Wines in Durbanville presented a tasting of South African and European Sauvignon Blancs with the view of underscoring precisely this: The cultivar is no one-trick pony and presents a multi-layered white wine spectrum. Andrew’s line-up offered 12 Cape Sauvignon Blancs, three French (one of which a Sémillon blend) and an Austrian wine. The line-up: Iona Elgin Highlands Wild Ferment 2021, Tement Ried Zieregg Karmileten Berg 2019 (Austria), Bartho Eksteen Houtskool 2019, Mellish Family Vineyards Blanc Fumé 2021, De Grendel Koetshuis 2019, David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner Wild Ferment 2019, Vergelegen Reserve 2019, Alphonse Mellot Edmond 2016 (Sancerre), Thorne & Daughters Snakes & Ladders 2019, Dagueneau Buisson Rehard Blanc Fumé de Pouilly 2015 (Pouilly Fumé), Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015, Klein Constantia Clara 2021, Trizanne Signature Wines Sondagskloof White 2018, Reyneke Reserve 2017, Diemersdal The Journal 2019 and Le Petit Cheval Bordeaux Blanc 2018 (Bordeaux).

Served in four flights, each including an international wine, the major impression was the deliciousness of the Sauvignon Blanc cultivar. A purity and vibrancy, a polished cleanliness – without sterility – characterised the wines, with various levels of thought-provoking depth found throughout the line-up. The multi-pronged onslaught on the senses was complemented by the fact that the youngest offering was two years old, going right down to 2015. All the Sauvignon Blancs, thus, had been exposed to silence and stillness for at least 24 months, a period of rest and breath, pausing after the fervours of their lusty youth and ready to awaken in the mouth with refreshed and mannered confidence.

The experiences ranged from the stony maritime bursts resonating in Trizanne Signature Wines Sondagskloof White 2018 and Iona Elgin Highlands Wild Ferment 2021, to the mature palate-weight of Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015 with its glow of bruised apple and jasmine, still a stunner at eight years of age.

Mellish Family Vineyards Blanc Fumé 2021 and Diemersdal The Journal 2019 are both generously wooded, but the oak both discreet in allowing white fruit to show, while being directive in piling the solid layers of edification required to give the wines weight and presence and respect.

Reyneke Reserve 2017 and Klein Constantia Clara 2021 are world’s apart as far as terroir is concerned, namely Stellenbosch the former and the latter hailing from Constantia. Yet both are knee-tremblingly graceful in their restrained harnessing of the sometimes pugnacious Sauvignon Blanc thiols and pyrazines, here presenting wines of extraordinary life-affirming appeal with firm, vital cores yet donning a subdued and courteous cool cloak of white wine elegance.

The foreign wines were gorgeous but by no means overshadowed Brand Sauvignon Blanc South Africa. Tement Ried Zieregg Karmileten Berg 2019 from Austria is like something carved from a cold slab of Carrera marble, unbreakable and permanent with flowing curves and jagged, defined cuts of beauty. Dagueneau Buisson Rehard Blanc Fumé de Pouilly 2015 might not be as vigorously captivating or hold the impending danger as the same producer’s Silex cult wine, but it is rapturous with sappy green fruit running over upturned clods of fossilised earth.

One of the leading narratives among those assembled at the tasting was: So, how does South Africa stack-up to the international wines on offer? With respect, I am getting past this kind of question with its undertow of inferiority. It is not how do we measure against the world, but to what degree does the world welcome South Africa as a brother and sister of the Family of Wine Excellence? And with Sauvignon Blanc, it should be welcoming with open arms. Deservedly.

South African Wine Established Long Before Colonists Arrived

The lie of the wine culture having been brought to South Africa by white Dutch settlers has to be buried under the organic compost heap it deserves, says local political party EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters). Following a recent statement by EFF leader Julius Malema that the sport of rugby evolved in South Africa long before European colonization, the EFF’s Dr Sapling Mizipissi said sub-Saharan Africans were making wine centuries prior to Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch East India Company landing at the Cape in 1652.

“Today the legacy of Van Riebeeck and his colonialist cohorts assume the misguided honour for beginning the vineyard planting and the winemaking in South Africa, when it is a fact indigenous peoples had been doing this long before the first Dutch ships landed,” says Dr Mizipissi, who is the EFF’s spokesperson for revisionist agriculture.

“By the time these settlers arrived, the local Khoisan people were already crafting wine from certified old vineyards, while in the Eastern Cape the black tribes had perfected the art of cold-fermentation on white grapes as well as presiding over a natural wine movement. Punch-downs with assegai heralded a revolution in tannin-extraction, for example. So, the current historians and wine companies must stop perpetuating the myth of Africa having had to wait for the colonialists before wine was made in South Africa. Wine is as African as, well, other African things.”

Khoi winemakers receive a collection of cellar material.

Official history marks the Cape wine industry as beginning on 2 February 1659 when Van Riebeeck oversaw the harvesting of the first wine grapes.

“Such lies need liberating, as while Van Riebeeck pressed his grapes in what is now Cape Town, the cool caves of Table Mountain already held wooden barrels of fine wine that had been created by generations of Khoi peoples,” says Dr Mizipissi. “In fact, in 1659 the indigenous folk were already holding a Khoisan Vigneron of the Year Competition, had a Khoi Winemakers Guild and were exporting wine to Zanzibar and Indonesia. This has all been obliterated from the annals of history by a European mind-set wishing to impose its insular superior thinking on the indigenous legacy of Africa.”

Dr Mizipissi says that Africa also had a major influence on the wine culture of various European countries. “When Bartholomeu Dias sailed around southern Africa in 1488 the Portuguese had no idea of what it is to fortify wine,” he says. “It was only after landing at Mossel Bay in the southern Cape and being invited by the local peoples to an ostrich barbecue that Dias was introduced to sweet wine strengthened with distilled spirits. Of course, he took a barrel back to Portugal with him, stole the technique of fortifying and since then that country has claimed status as the home of the Port wine. When this is totally an African thing.”

Asked about the grape varieties planted in pre-colonial South Africa, Dr Mizipissi said that as sons of the soil, Africans are the true masters of terroir.

Julius Malema hosting a vertical tasting of Domaine Bling-Bling wine.

“The indigenous vines of Africa were crossed with plants liberated from some French Catholic missionaries in the 9th century,” he says. “Using vines developed by massal selection as well as clones developed in the kraals of the Eastern Cape, Africans were spreading vines to selected sites over all South Africa identified by our masters of the soil. Three centuries before Van Riebeeck arrived, the pre-colonial, true winemakers were aging wine in barrels made from the yellow-wood and stinkhout trees, as well as doing skin-contact on white wines and fermenting with yeast strains grown in calabashes.”

Dr Mizipissi says the EFF will from 2024 be dispelling the myth of South African wine being the exclusive result of the white man’s endeavours since 1659.

“Comrade Malema is set to enlighten the world on the true history of wine in South Africa, underscoring the need for reviving the rich legacy of viticulture and winemaking here at the southern tip of Africa,” he says. “The EFF recently recovered some barrels of pre-colonial local wines such as Pinot Gwahr and Rhinotage from the great African vintages of 1346 and 1501. These will be presented at a tasting to international dignitaries attending the inauguration of newly-elected South African president Julius Malema who, as we all know, is the only person in the world to make his own history.”

A Pinch of Salt Not Taken Lightly

In conveying the soul of a wine brand, the conveyor’s sense of fun is for me a vital element in attracting my attention, which can be as – well – all-over-the place as a Tik-Tok influencer whose Ritalin prescription has expired. And is any wine marketer having more fun than Peter Pentz?

As the off-spring of Nick, who began the wine operation on Groote Post farm in Darling, young Peter hit the wine scene like a Pieter-Steph du Toit mid-field defensive play when he began fronting Groote Post’s marketing operations a few years back. He is seen all over the place in gregarious and self-deprecating humorous ways, whether it is snapping selfies with Antipodean diva Kylie Minogue at Prowein in Germany, talking about South African wine on various television channels or introducing Groote Post with a broad smile which is genuine and heartfelt, and likable.

It works in the market. Groote Post took a turn to modern lifestyle branding with its stunning Seasalter Sauvignon Blanc, which has been hugely successful, inspiring many other wineries to dust off the look and feel of their offerings and take a looser, more relaxed approach without sacrificing class or quality. That said, this kind of tact requires a delicious wine to underscore the provenance of the property and the premier image of the brand, something Groote Post Seasalter has done. By the way, Seasalter was Dad Nick’s idea, but Peter runs with it.

Peter Pentz, Lukas Wentzel and Nick Pentz.

This success has led to a new wine from Groote Post, namely a Chardonnay going by the name Pinch of Salt. It was released at a recent event at the Zeitz MOCCA art venue in the Cape Town Waterfront, which was a really cool affair.

Guests ranged from wine writers, some members of the trade and representatives from the newly formed body called South African Wine, which – in retrospect – could really have called on someone like Peter when looking for a name to title the local industry’s new over-arching arm.

The event was a casual stand-around gig without painful laborious speeches, pre-seated tables or a time-sapping programme. Plus, the views from atop the MOCCA are great, so one did not have to feel bad disengaging from a boring conversation to check-out the light across the bay.

A star was needed to top-off the event’s success, and I am glad to report that the star was the maiden Pinch of Salt Chardonnay 2023. Peter announced this with just the right amount of fanfare and gravitas before Nick gave some sage background stories and winemaker Lukas Wentzel ran us through the technical aspects of the wine.

Chardonnay is no new thing to Groote Post’s Darling spread. But with the old vineyard being knackered and carrying more viruses than a New Zealand rugby-supporter who had recently spent two weeks in Paris following his team, the Chardonnay was pulled-out. And nine years ago, new material was planted for the basis of Pinch of Salt.

The aim of this is, like Seasalter, an amicable, charming lifestyle wine with just the right degree of seriousness to attract attention but without the over-emphasised steps of manicured complexity to confine it to the self-appointed serious wine drinker.

For this, lees contact in various vessels was undertaken. Tank. French oak barrels. And amphora. Six months’ post-fermentation lees-time was allowed in these vessels before the wine was bottled and ready for market in October of the year of vintage.

Sometimes, the simple matters count in portraying one’s experience of a wine. Mine was in calling Peter post-launch to find where the Pinch of Salt is to be procured in Cape Town, as I want lots of it and I want it now. For it is tasty and delicious, while at the same time offering the kind of comforting pleasure that wine was made for, and the Chardonnay variety offers when done well and is tuned with a specific goal in mind.

The colour is that of hay-bales strewn across a West Coast plain and catching the iridescent glowing rays of the sun setting in the west. A nose of rock-pool washed by an incoming tide warmed with a touch of fynbos and an alluring nectarish spice. What gets me is the presence on the palate where the wine lies like a rivulet of mercury on the manicured palm of a Turkish bride. Here it rests, cool and easy, darting off in different directions as your bewitched senses prod the essence of the liquid that is, simply, a tasty wine.

There is butterscotch and date to be had with a burst of loquat enlivening the senses, while thick-skinned Cape lemon offers a pleasant bitter-fruit grip. No, this is not a wine to evoke drama. Thundering waves belting granite rocks are not to be found, nor a cacophony of rapturous symphonies. Things are all pleasant and easy when drinking it – drinking, more than sipping – like a wooden-hulled yacht sailing across the bay with a firm wind in its sails.

Are we having fun yet?

So, You Want to be a Winemaker?

Dear Marnus

So, my godson is considering becoming a winemaker. First, of course, the Matric exams you began this week must be completed successfully. But of this I am in no doubt – as your academic track-record to date shows. Then follows a year travelling through Europe, during which you will have to decide in which direction to study on your return, and your father told me you are considering a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch. Week-end past the old man asked me what I thought of this plan, seeing that I waltz around the world of wine. But you and I know one another well enough by now for me to side-step my dear friend and chat directly to you.

Until now, your exposure to wine has been one of pleasure and fascination, as it should. I think you were 14 when your father and I were discussing and drinking a bottle of Hamilton Russell Chardonnay when you asked for a taste. Perhaps you were bored, somehow, by that cellphone glued to your hands. Or maybe you had a youthful interest in the enthusiastic manner in which the two old men were describing our respective impressions of that specific wine to one another. Perhaps you, with your keen eye, were struck by the way the wine glowed golden in the glass. But you wanted a taste, and we gave it to you. You smiled. I still remember that smile. It said a lot.

That was four years ago, and since then, you have shown an increasing interest in wine, the different labels, grape varieties and the excitement some of the bottles evoked among your father and I, Uncle Carl and your Aunt Frances. You even began sending me articles you had read about Eben Sadie, Danie de Wet and Jan Boland Coetzee, as well as the label of a bottle of Sancerre you had procured a taste of at a friend’s house.

There is thus no shadow of a doubt that your interest in wine is already imprinted upon your mind, that open young mind of youth that has the world waiting to bestow its vitality on you. And if it is vitality you want, wine is it. Because wine is life.

But to follow a career as a winemaker you will need more than a fascination, although that is where it all begins and where it will end – should you go down that route.

As a possessor of a modest BA Hons degree in journalism, I cannot advise you on the demands of the BSc degree that is your stepping-stone to a vinous career. But judging by your current level of interest, I believe you will launch yourself into the aspects of soils, climatic influences and the life-cycle of the vine with keen abandon. There will be tastings and vineyard work and time in the cellars, and in your fellow students you will see that people driven by a love of and zeal for wine are truly good people in all of their different ways. Ways as diverse and engaging as the various wines and grape varieties you will experience.

You will leave university equipped to join the ranks of professional winemakers, hopefully still spurred on by the interest you now show in the subject with such starry-eyed eagerness.

One cannot predict where you will begin to ply your trade. Possibly as an assistant in one of the Cape’s cellars, or – with your father’s help and admirable international connections – at a winery in another country. Which, I believe, will be a good thing. Wine connects nations and people, and you will – whether it is France, Chile, New Zealand or Italy – share a common language and values and insights wherever you find yourself in the vineyards of the world. You will become part of that world. That world of wine. And it is a good thing. A great thing.

My experience working with various wineries allows me, however, to emphasise that there is a lot more to being a winemaker than harvesting, blending and overseeing the process to the end result.

For one, every winemaker I know has an exceptional palate, an ability to taste a wine from its cool entry to the mouth right down to the very soul from where it expresses nature through itself. There must be an ability to imagine the best state that wine can be in while it is fermenting, through to its coarse lusty youth. And by using your imagination and skill, you must decide what steps to take to ensure the best wine is created, cared for by you, from that specific year. It is on your watch that this responsibility lies. A good winemaker is a master of his or her senses. And an ability to see something in that wine that we mere mortals on the periphery and even the best critics cannot.

Just as wine and people have forged a social symbiosis over 8 000 years, you as winemaker will have to be a people’s person. (Your personality, my boy, should stand you in good stead here. Unless something goes wrong in Europe or at university.)

Your success as winemaker will largely be determined by your relationships at your place of work. With the vineyard and cellar workers. Your superiors who own the property they have employed you to work at. The various technical and marketing consultants needed to steer the business wherein you find yourself. Journalists and critics will call to pick your brain, taste your wares and hear what you have to say.

You will be entrusted with showing the bottles you have created to retailers and restaurant wine-buyers. Not only explaining the unique traits of each wine to them but convincing these sometimes-hard-nosed business folk that your relationship with the product is as trustworthy as it is with those who will buy and stock your wines. You are the brand, and the brand is you.

Broad-shoulders are required, and you should never bottle a wine of which you are not proud. The consumer and the follower of winemakers and brands will not have your intimate knowledge of grapes and winemaking, but we are not easily fooled.

But what I admire most about the good winemakers I have the privilege of knowing is that they are individuals and they are artists, restless in their respective visions of what they want to express through wine. There are many winemakers. But there will only be one that is you. And there are many wines, but there will only be certain ones that will have been made by your hands and cared for by your soul and very being.

I cannot think of anything better. Mull this over as you step out into the world before deciding what the next phase of your life will hold. And don’t forget to bring back a bottle of Corton Charlemagne for me and your old man.

Fondly yours

The Godfather

Some Wine is Mossop’s Sam

Twenty years back everyone was wondering what the Kid was going to do up in Helshoogte, Stellenbosch at the country’s most-eagerly anticipated new winery. The place was Tokara where the Kid, a.k.a. Miles Mossop, had been tasked by Tokara founder GT Ferreira to launch the wines from this spectacular spread of vineyards and cellar and all-round fabulous wine destination.

Then in 2005 the first Tokara wines hit the world like a Cheslin Kolbe line-break, with quality and a distinctive sense-of-place showing that, wine-wise, the product could assuredly match the gravitas Tokara had reached, image-wise, even before the first stuff was bottled.

Despite having left the joint five years back to do his own thing, the Kid will go down as the guy that put-down the foundations for the magnificence Tokara has claimed at the top end of the Cape wine spectrum, a spot it is not likely to lose anytime soon.

Sam and Miles and Sam the Wine.

My interest in the doings of the Kid originated from the reputation of his late father, Tony. He was a leading wine commentator and critic and all-round wine gentleman who also happened to be infatuated with Port. This stuff he made in Calitzdorp on his Axe Hill farm. Those interested in wine read what Tony Mossop wrote, listened when he spoke and agreed with the many winemakers and other people who revered the man’s opinions and appreciated his understated and self-deprecating sense of humour.

And as far as son Miles is concerned, and if Tony is looking down, one can paraphrase the Who song and state that, yes, the Kid is alright.

Now making his own Miles Mossop Wines, as well as assisting with a couple of other ventures, Miles has a track-record ticking all the right boxes: Name made at Tokara. Former Cape Winemakers Guild chairman. A hero in the eyes of the younger generation of winemakers. International reputation. And not to mention that the Kid still has great hair.

He lives his wine career in the fast-lane, does Miles. Busy. Happening the hustle. The opportunity, thus, of attending a tasting of a new release at the Mossops’ Banghoek home, verdant forest-garden looking up to the colossal blue-grey Simonsberg, was eagerly taken.

The occasion was the latest vintage of Miles’s wine named Sam, a Cabernet Sauvignon-led beauty in the Mossop Family range, this one named after Mrs Miles. It is pitched top-end at just under a grand a bottle and represents the culmination of Miles’s vinous vision through a meticulously crafted wine.

Before hitting the latest Sam release from vintage 2020, glasses were filled with various renditions of the same wine from the maiden 2017.

While Sam’s geographical origin has moved to the Polkadraai Hills appellation, the 2017 started out in Bottelary, with the 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot both sourced from those rugged slopes and once again confirming Bottelary’s terrain to be a truly great setting for classic Cape wines. This 2017 Sam has a true bloodline of old-school Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon about it with that meaty dark fruit and cedar approach levelled out by a silky charm still allowing the required degree of force and presence to reverberate throughout the palate.

Good winemakers wield a deft hand at taming tannins to still the roar but allow the excitement to thrill, and this feature is noticeable in that 2017. Also helped, of course, by 2017 being a comet vintage.

Sam 2018 saw some Cabernet Franc from Polkadraai coming into the Bottelary Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot mix, and of all four vintages tasted this was rather showy in terms of a sweet-fruited rim, a firm graphite grip and some lush, glow and warmth. Fig-paste, plums and bramble-berries with wafts of fynbos and just a tad of cigar box make for a delectable wine that is both very drinkable as well as admirably commanding of respect. Pretty much like Taylor Swift wearing a Royal Navy admiral uniform.

The 2019 still spoke of some assertive and adventurous tannins of the grainy kind, the sappiness shown by 2018 being in the background. It is powerful and alert, and immensely cool and confident with the accent on petrichor, broken shale and potpourri rather than fruit succulence, the latter which will be coming to the fore in a year or three’s time.

Concerning the latest release, Sam 2020 underscores the fact that this is a great Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon vintage offering wines of immense varietal expression and a fruity eagerness, yet with polish and poise that will age to talkative secondary complexity. The 92% Cabernet Sauvignon element is now all Polkadraai, and as Bruwer Raats has displayed with his stuff, this region is known for its ability to bring accuracy and precision from them heavy granite soils, while offering just the correct degree of plushness to give depth and meaning.

A juicy tenderness lies at the core of this wine, fresh acids providing a taut harness on which to peg a tapestry of joy-giving flavours. Ripe pomegranate flesh with raspberry confit. Some sour cherries with a lick of blackcurrant and a few slivers of sun-dried prune. Brief glimpses of washed-up whelk-shell add a cooling maritime touch, while a few cedar cuttings give a civilised feral edge to a wine of immense presence and with an individual voice.

There’s a lot to like, and more to come as the Kid is at the top of his game. And the hair, man, the hair is still just great.

Vilafonté: Two Decades of Greatness

The ancient Roman wine-growers said you had to plant vines on rocky hills for the best grapes and juice, but I wouldn’t write-off the flat, broad plains. Bordeaux’s Médoc region, for one, is hardly steeply inclined, and last time I looked Romanée Conti lay on a piece of Burgundian dirt flat enough for Frans Malherbe to moon-walk on.

There is a fine piece of steady, even land north-east of Cape Town just before Paarl, a countryside looked upon by a broad, endless sky intersected in the distance by purple-grey mountains. This is fine country for vines and grapes, and the record shows it. On the farm Welgemeend one Billy Hofmeyr, an icon of Cape wine, made the first South African Bordeaux-style red in 1979. It was not only the first of its kind, this wine, but one of the best, too. Of all the old local vinous treasures sold at the swanky auctions, none out-guns a Welgemeend from the early 1980s, except perhaps the GS 1966.

The soils of Welgmeend continue north-east, an ancient crust of earth holding some innocuous farm space and wild-looking brush cut by red clay paths and littered with a couple of obligatory commercial building sites and more aesthetically pleasing hospitality arrangements. In a quiet, pastoral part of this land lies Vilafonté, and it is a vineyard. A red wine vineyard from which two wines are made bearing the vineyard’s name and which have, in less than two decades, leapt to the very top offerings available from the Cape.

There are two reasons for the desirability and success of Vilafonté, with wine quality assuredly being one. The other is the building of the brand to respect and complement the fine wines originating from such a special place, and this has been done extraordinarily well by owner Mike Ratcliffe. I was fortunate to taste the first 2003 vintage, just labelled and not yet on market, together with fellow members of the Wine Swines. And although the focus at these gatherings is always on the wine, as it must be, Mike’s vision for Vilafonté accompanied the admirable comments the Swines were making on the wine.

Mike Ratcliffe

The vision was for an object of luxuriousness – from the texture of the label, bottle-shape, to the accompanying marketing visual imagery and the creating of desirability to get hold of a bottle of Vilafonté even before one had tasted it. And judging by the success of the brand today, that vision stayed true and has played out remarkably well.

Mike and his team recently put together a tasting comprising all 21 vintages of the Vilafonté C – this be the wine dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, while the “M” is Merlot driven. And facing the samples from 2003 to 2022, I was reminded of the emotional power of fine wine. For, with respect, my admiration for the success of the brand, the story-telling, memories of the American legends Phil Freese and Zelma Long who had initially set-up Vilafonté with Mike, all this was shunted aside by the riveting draw of the great South African wine this had become.

Along with the domineering Cabernet Sauvignon, Vilafonté sees Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc gelling the final outcome, the percentages of grape variety depending on vintage and stylistic wants from each specific year. Percentages of new French oak used, too, is not defined. 2009 used 100% new wood, while in 2010 only 53% of the wine saw new barrique. Give or take a few years, primarily at the beginning of the Vilafonté journey, the wine spends 22 months in barrel, and the alcohol-level tries to stick to 14.5%.

Carted in from their Paarl home at harvest, the grapes are vinified at the Vilafonté winery in Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch. Seeing as my office is located across from the winery, I have an umbilical cord to this wine in that in summer, I witness the berries being sorted, smell the sweet-feral aroma of fermenting juice and watch the cellar teams calmly and confidently tending to fermentation and racking and all those other cellar goings-on.

Of course, I had never tasted all vintages – especially alongside one another – but going through the 21-year line-up there was a familiarity. It is an unfortunate one, this familiarity, as it rests on a few well-worn clichés so often used that they have lost their lustre. These be “elegant” and “refined”, two terms obvious in associating anything with luxury as well as littering every second wine-tasting note. But these are words that jump from the glass of each Vilafonté rendition, the red wines singing with class and stature and a regalness that, with some vintages, has one tempted to stand up to show respect for what is in the glass.

Of the earlier vintages, the Vilafonté C from year 2008 was especially overwhelming. The wine has 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 6% Malbec, and the 92% new oak-aging regime of 20 months was spot on in allowing the wine to be in a splendid condition at 15 years of age. The statuesque complexity and aggressive earthy blows of a great Simonsberg red are present, with a tapestry of life-affirming tannins and a chilly freshness. But the site of the Paarl Vilafonté vineyard exposed to glowing, even sunlight radiation allows for a heart-warming showing of polite dark fruits including prune, sour-cherry and plum, with an intriguing element of spice and Maplewood-ember.

The showing of what 15 years can do to a Vilafonté has me awaiting the further maturation of vintage 2013. Here, Cabernet Franc comes in at 13% – there was none in 2008 – with Cabernet Sauvignon (58%), Merlot (21%) and Malbec (8%). The result is a wine of enough ominous dark power to make a Haitian witch doctor eat his own voodoo doll, but not in the unbalanced, vicious and disturbing sense. Rather sell-binding and hypnotic.

On the nose there is a classic cedar whiff with aromas of warm tar and unsettled grape must. The palate welcomes luxury in an erotic silkiness delivering sensational tastes of fig-paste, garrique, black-currant and sage, with a slight savouriness. The wine is invigorating, exciting and firm, beautiful now with true greatness still to come.

And then there is Vilafonté C 2020. While these wines undoubtedly gain allure, complexity and verve through maturation, there is beauty in their youth. Here the tannins are still talkative, jostling for attention through layers of fruit, fynbos and graphite. On well-made, pure-fruited wines such as these, the restless exuberance strides beside a polished harmony which is as delightful and rewarding as opening the bottles a decade or two down the line. Especially in a classy red wine year such as 2020.

Here the brightness is piercing and seeking, rather than the thigh-shivering glow of the older wines. There is zest and alertness, the rolling thunder of the dramatically tannic and the crunch, crush and break of ripe fruit encased in a cloth of damp raw linen. This is when a wine shows its pedigree in the restless heart-beat and the flexing of muscles, giving the experience of wine-drinking a visceral thrill on the edge of a poetic and beautiful violence.

The story is two decades old, versed and chaptered in tales of geography and land; plains and sun on the edge of a unique landscape where mountains peak as high as the dreams and ambitions of those wishing to create the greatness that lies in earth’s expression of itself through the thing that is wine. This story will never end, but it can never be retold enough.