The Great Cape Gatsby

The gunshots were still echoing in the night sky, but I was assured they were the last. For that night, at least. My uber-driven vehicle had arrived, courtesy of the Bonteheuwel Burgundy 73 Wine Society for which I had been asked to present a tasting of Côtes de Beaune Pinot Noirs, as well as to give a bit of general lowdown on the region. They are very into geography on the Cape Flats.

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Grenache Greatness from Neil Ellis

Old vineyards do not guarantee good wine, as I have always suspected despite the generalised assumption that a wrinkly ancient vineyard planted when Jan Smuts was still being breast-fed just has to produce fantastic grapes. At a recent memorable tasting of Grenache wines from a vineyard in the Piekenierskloof outside Citrusdal, Neil Ellis confirmed these suspicions. However, the Master said, when it comes to Grenache, the vineyard only tends to get a sense of direction after hitting 20 years.

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Screwed and Peeved at Trophy Wine Show

Producers of screw-cap wine closures are reeling after this year’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show failed to back their cause of promoting artificial steel bottle tops ahead of the more traditional, effective and carbon-neutral cork stoppers. This after organisers of last year’s Trophy Wine Show went to extra lengths to blame cork for faulty wines, supressed fruit expression, oxidation, the plight of missing flight MH370 as well as the outbreak of Asian bird-flu in the southern hemisphere.

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Chardonnay’s Heart at Hartenberg

Carl Schultz from Hartenberg waltzing through the vines.
Carl Schultz from Hartenberg waltzing through the vines.

Perfection, or near perfection, must be a heavy burden. How do Carl Schultz and his team at Hartenberg Estate handle it? Such a diverse range of wines, all made to such high standards – it’s all enough to make a French vigneron kick a hole in a vat of 1928 Armagnac.

Hartenberg makes a mean Merlot. Stupendous Shiraz. Riveting Riesling. Cracking Cabernet. But my heart was won over, again, recently by the Chardonnay. Not the iconic Eleanor, but the straight-up Hartenberg Chardonnay from the very classy 2009 vintage.

This came courtesy of a good offer from my sales agent at the Wade Bales Wine Society at a price that made me wonder if this stuff hadn’t fallen from the back of some truck. But I bought a case, most of which has been sent down the hatch, leaving me half-a-bottle from which to contemplate.

The wine is clear and attractive with a lovely greenness to the golden robe, as usually worn by a classic Chardonnay south of the Beaune region in Burgundy. A chunky firm attack on the palate leads to an armada of ripe fruit, from stewed quince, grated Packham pear, kumquat and Key Lime Pie. This is all supported by a zesty acidity, giving the wine more life and verve than a Mavericks’ dancer on Free Russia Day.

Unlike said dancer, the Hartenberg Chardonnay only has a bit of wood, not enough to mask the life in the wine but just the right amount to provide a silky, buttery mouth-feel and a lingering finish.

Score: 9013/1000


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Yorkshire’s Finest Putting Oemf into South African Wine Education


Successful WSET Level 2 graduates celebrate receiving their certificates and pins. L to R from back: Zola Williams, Angelo van Dyk, Barry Scholfield. Middle rows: Herman Jordaan, Harry Ravelomanantsoa, Chantelle Swanepoel, Celeste Munge, Esme Groenwald. Front rows: Richard Barnett, Grant Michels, Sune Eksteen (WSET Lecturer), Jude Mullins AIWS (International Business Development Director for WSET), Cathy Marston AIWS (WSET lecturer), Isobel Odendaal.

?+¦-+?+¡Personally, I’d like to learn a lot more about wine. But the few wine courses I have attended here and in Burgundy have ended in tears, harassment, pain and expulsion and that was before the tasting side of the programme started.

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