Jan Boland Coetzee bought Vriesenhof 40 years ago to make a great red wine. Left Bank Bordeaux was the inspiration. But seeing that his new spread of earth on Stellenbosch Mountain was only planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsaut, the first three vintages of Vriesenhof were pure-bred Cabernet Sauvignon. (Still holding up very well, thank you. The 1981 is extraordinary.)
The surf was heaving off a calm blue sea when I walked onto the deck of Ristorante Enrico at Keurbooms outside Plettenberg Bay. Aromas of salt, mollusc-shell and garlic drifted from the kitchen as we crossed the outside space in search of a table as close enough to the ocean as possible.
Much like Jewish humour, good sparkling wine is a bit quick for me. To analyse that is. Reason being, when partaking in a glass of fizz, the elixir tends to go down the hatch quicker than an ANC tender-preneur does upon receiving a call from the Hawks.
Besides the regular pleas to government to unlock our industry, the South African wine space was understandably quiet during the lockdown caused by we-know-what
Noticeable wine action, however, was instigated by the South Africa’s Chenin Blanc Association, the body representing the Cape’s Chenin Blanc winemakers. During lockdown they refused to go quietly, especially on 20 June when they brought the country to a stand-still with a tidal wave of promotional activities encouraging people all over the world to Drink Chenin. This was a gutsy, lively and admirable showing as thousands-upon-thousands of social media users stuck it to the authorities by espousing the merits of Chenin Blanc and, ultimately, the fantastic wine lifestyle.
Once the world returns to normal – one day – the issue of sustainability and producers’ green credentials will be the number one issue on the agenda of any winery exporting to Europe (South Africa’s largest market) and the USA. Here South Africa can, if it jostles effectively, edge into a top-spot as a sustainable, environmentally aware wine country that takes care in leaving a lower carbon footprint. Not only through the facets and machinations of production. But, also by its off-setting of carbon emissions through the green lungs of fynbos wilderness breathing in the wild, natural spaces between the splendid Cape winelands.
The research and queries have been exhaustive and all-encompassing. Final decision-making was stress-inducing, meticulous and thorough. Profound insights gained. So, after all that, WineGoggle and its team of assistants in the fields of retail, journalism, hospitality, wine critics, high-end consumers and psycho-analysts brings you the 11 Most Influential People in South African Wine. (Commercially involved, not industry bodies.) Right here, and right now. In no specific order of importance, or relevance, that is. Here goes:
On assignment, the opportunity arose last week to pass some hours with The Godfather of Chenin Blanc, namely Ken Forrester. The day of intense tasting, drinking and talk is being distilled into an extensive report to be published later, but while I am sifting through the memory bank on that day’s proceedings, the amazingness of the wine that is Ken’s FMC Chenin Blanc is repeatedly bleeping in the inner-cranial space.
The name “Porseleinberg” was catapulted into world-fame last week when Tim Atkin MW scored the Porseleinberg Syrah 2018 a full 100pts. Being an asker of “what’s in a name?”, and a believer that Porseleinberg is a stupendous wine, I began thinking about the origins of this “berg”.
Anybody with the slightest interest in South African wine would last week have sniffed the scent of heated plastic as their phones burned while news of Tim Atkin’s local ratings spread like botrytis after a bout of late-summer rain. Winery marketers, PRs and social media agencies were furiously distributing their respective wines’ scores, some partnered by catchy infographics. At the same time, winemakers and brand-owners remained “humbled”, “thrilled” and “delighted” at their results.
Earl Dexter on Food
My name is Earl, and I have a problem with chickens.
It all began on my Uncle Frikkie’s farm, when I was about eight or nine. One night I decided to sleep in the straw, under the stars that sparkle so gloriously in the night sky over the Sandveld, between Piketberg and Lambert’s Bay.