Going through the reading matter about Cape Town’s new wine district, I was surprised at how relatively simple it all sounded. Producers from Constantia and Durbanville get an idea. Apply to the Wine and Spirits Board’s Demarcation Committee to check out the possibility of creating a district based on the regional, geographic similarities between Constantia and Durbanville. Committee approves it after detailed research. The new district gets advertised for objections. None. And hey presto, Wine of Origin Cape Town is born.
The great estate brandies from South Africa don’t have it easy in the market. There’s this thing called Cognac, see, a category that seduces consumers with brands like Remy Martin, Courvoiseur and Hennessy. Besides the evocative names and the charming French origins, aforementioned brands as well as many others, have stratospheric marketing spend with which Cognac can conquer the spirits loving public globally.
Jeanri-Tine van Zyl, wine writer, communications expert and taster supreme will be in the team of four palates representing Team South Africa at the International Blind Wine Tasting Championships in Burgundy in September. What does it take to get there? WineGoggle investigated….
Is the skill of wine-tasting hereditary? Your father is a skilled sipper and your second cousin an esteemed expert on Burgundy and South African Chardonnay.
My dad is a very dedicated wine lover and probably has one of the most impressive wine collections in the Free State. I’ve always admired this discipline in sourcing wine and the ‘art’ of wine appreciation – my dad is one of the most authentic wine appreciators I know – I wanted to be that too. So maybe not hereditary as much as an example I’d like to honour. My dad can get quite lyrical about a wine. Not everyone gets that.
A Bordeaux-based psychologist and wine-lover, Maxine Engel, once wrote-up research showing that most male French wine critics had a greater fear of losing their senses of taste and smell than they did of erectile dysfunction. Well as they say in the classics, priorities aren’t what they used to be. But I do confess to having had a terrifying experience recently when some ’flu medicine rendered my delicate palate and keen olfactory ability just about useless.
I had just began smelling the contents of the glasses before me, when the CEO himself took-over. The venue was Delaire Graff, that most magnificent wine estate at the top of Banghoek with views from where, on any kind of day, you can see forever. And Johann Laubser, responsible for running all aspects of this destination’s impressive array of culinary, vinous, hospitality, art and lifestyle offerings, just had to make time to discuss the factor responsible for Delaire Graff’s very existence: wine.
The real-estate adage of Location, Location and Location does not apply to restaurants. Was the offering presented by Blanko, an eatery situated in the splendid environment of the Alphen Boutique Hotel on the rural outskirts of Constantia, comparable to its site I would still be drifting on an orgasmic cloud of culinary-induced ecstasy. This is, not the case.
Attending this year’s Backsberg Postgraduate Vino Varsity Challenge between the MBA students from UCT and Stellenbosch could have one thinking of the 1980s pop music band China Crisis. Both teams were tasked with solving the South African wine industry’s challenge of getting shelf-space, throat-approval and face-time in premium wine markets. And as far as both the UCT Graduate School of Business and the University of Stellenbosch Business School are concerned, China is the place to go.
A recent visit by a delegation of MBA students from California had me thinking that our wine scene has an edge on the American industry. In one voice the Americans told me that back home – the world’s leading wine consuming nation – red blended wines were now becoming the big thing, with producers from sea to shining sea beginning to experiment with blends.
Showing my age I’ll admit that when first meeting the John Martin Sauvignon Blancfrom Backsberg Estate Cellars I assumed the wine was named after the iconic South African yachtsman. This John Martin was to round-the-world sailing what Cristiano Ronaldo is to football, and if ever a sailor needed a wine named after him, it would have to be our John.
Speaking on CapeTalk radio recently, one of the foreign judges flown out for the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show said the quality of the Pinot Noir category surprised her. Especially as the Wine Show’s South African judges were, prior to the tasting, “almost apologetic” about the quality of local Pinot Noir.