Stellenbosch Mafia Clam-up

The last time me and Jackie the Juice did a job together was back in the Old Country when the Don’s son-in-law Flavio needed some skull-work on account of Flavio playing hide-the-prosciutto with the neighbour’s wife. Now Jackie’s sitting aside me at a joint in Africa goes by the name of Stellenbosch, where the Consiglieri sent the twos of us to check out the rumours that a branch of the Mafia is operating in this little old town.

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The Real Great White Hope

In the world of serious wine recognition, South African Sauvignon Blanc appears to be a victim of its own success. In its own country.

During a recent consumer survey done by MediaVision Communications among wine drinkers in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KZN aged between 25 and 50, Sauvignon Blanc was identified by far as the respondents’ “favourite” white wine variety.

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In the Winelands, the Pie’s the Limit

For sustenance, large parts of the wine community do not down tools at noon to lunch on dishes of high dining incorporating slivers of free-range beef flank, sustainability sourced flakes of hand-caught Cape salmon and carefully arranged cuts of organic vegetables. The mid-day meal more often than not consists of a take-away item wolfed down next to your bakkie while sorting out a distribution issue or dictating back-label copy on the phone.

Here, humble pie is eaten. And the roadside pie is King.

Under extreme duress and with true commitment to clarity in reporting, this writer did the rounds. Travelled the winelands to check-out the status of the Cape Wineland Pie.

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Jouberts and the Wine Genes

There may have been a few deviations over the past 340 years, but it is with immense pride, humility and gratitude that I can lay claim to my DNA including South Africa’s oldest wine-farming ancestry.

The Joubert side, which arrived at the Cape on 20 August 1688 in the form of Pierre Joubert from La Motte d’Aigues in the Luberon, saw that part of the forebears leading the way in the French Huguenots’ remarkable contribution to South African wine culture. Oupa Pierre had scarcely walked ashore at Table Bay when he was already scoping out the local terroir, reading the winds and deciding that if he was going to continue the family legacy of vinous excellence, he better get hell out of Cape Town. Head north-east to the mountains and valleys of Franschhoek, where he founded La Motte Estate.

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Tall Tales of Thelema

Were you to bet on one thing that a chartered accountant is willing to be taken out of his or her comfort zone for, wine would be a pretty good call. If this elixir of life had inspired artists, poets, dreamers, IT-pioneers and media magnates, why not motivate a spread-sheet obsessed CA wishing to get out a bit further than the herbal tea-room and local SARS office?

Gyles Webb was not so much taken out of his comfort zone – he leapt out of it. Hailing from Kimberley where his father was an accountant for De Beers, the diamond guys, Gyles was doing accounting in Durban and drinking beer in the 1970s when there was that epiphany on which so many wine legends are made: a taste of Puligny-Montrachet, a white Burgundy and understandably epiphany-inducing.

And he leapt.

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Ramaphosa Dream City to get Own Vineyard

South Africa looks set to become home to the largest urban wine vineyard in the world. This is if President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision of a brand-new city built in the country is realised. During his recent State of the Nation Address, Pres. Ramaphosa suggested it was time to build such a new modern city in South Africa. But besides featuring shiny skyscrapers and sleek bullet-trains, the new city is also to host a vineyard from which various wines are to be made.

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Cigar Smoke Likes it Fresh and Cool

Just as the belief that certain wines are best paired with specific dishes is a fake-news device designed by sommeliers and chefs to make their professions marketable, so too is the doctrine assuming that specific beverages are more suited for enjoying with cigars than others.

When lighting a dense, hot Cuban cigar, current wisdom would have it that this mouthful of exotic smoky residue gains an extra dimension when flushed over with a Cognac, Single Malt Whisky or fine glass of Port. Don’t get me wrong: a Partagas Series D No. 4 draws deliciously into a mouth still reminiscing about the flavour of a Graham’s 1963 Vintage Port or a pre-War Frapin Cognac.

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Five Ways Not to be a Wine Wanker

It has been a derogatory term bandied about for some time now. I am referring, of course, to “wine wanker”, two words referring to the type of person inhabiting the wine world who has a penchant for being snobbish, opinionated, sensitive, obsessive, manic and hysterical, as well as general holding a higher-than-thou’ attitude on the subject of wine. There is even a website – – to assist in communicating the attributes and contributions of such a type of wine-orientated individual.

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