The natural relationship between clay and wine extends beyond the water-retention abilities and agreeable pH levels that make clay soils conducive to viticulture. For close on 2 700 years clay has been used to make vessels for the fermentation and holding of wine. Since those first dubious drops of grape juice were poured into clay pots by the winemakers of ancient Greece, Georgia and Rome, the containers have hardly changed in shape and size. Amphorae, as they are known, are today not only eye-catching aesthetic complements to wineries the world over, but represent a modern vinous movement aimed at capturing the natural purity of fermenting and fermented wine.
If there is ever to be a comprehensive study on truly successful South African wine brands, I’ll be ignoring the results if Vin de Constance does not appear at the very top. As they say in the classics, when it comes to this brand, what’s not to like?
To go tasting Madeira wine, you stop in downtown Funchal, capital of this magical volcanic island in the Atlantic and closer to Africa than it is to Portugal. Jacaranda trees are in full mauve bloom, and grassy public spaces show bright with red and yellow and pink flowers which add to the realisation that Madeira is a garden island where nature, soil, sea and growth are vital, and the earth is looked on by the inhabitants with pride.
Besides both having their respective important uses, Dias Tavern is like a prostate gland: you have to check-up on it regularly. Dias sees me about twice a week, and after a recent clock-in, the decision was made to place this eatery under a bit of media scrutiny.
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.
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.
You’re an uptown guy, but today we head downtown. Here in Porto, capital of northern Portugal where there is a cathedral on every corner and a dream beckoning in each glistening inch of the Douro River.
If I were to throw one cork into the advocating of the brilliance of Cap Classique, it would be this wine’s remarkable ability to age and develop. Of the many examples I have had of late, I’d say an attentive Cap Classique ages far better than a non-vintage Champagne and a lot better than Jane Fonda – but without the plastic face work and lentil-water intestinal flushes.
Last week’s Amorim Cork Alvarinho wine-tasting at Muratie gripped me with soil-encrusted hands, held me against a blue overall smelling of olive oil, garlic and sardines, and threw me over to the Atlantic Coast of north Portugal. Few things can export you to those other places, foreign and exotic and special, the way a wine does. And for this, the white grape of the Vinho Verde region, Alvarinho, does it in a way no others can.
Unlike Gerard Depardieu, I have not quite hit the 14 bottles-a-day mark. My rebuilt wrist simply clams-up on the cork-screw upon opening the ninth, whence I am forced to call it quits.