I howled into Paris determined to find great Chenin Blanc wine. Being a homo sapiens Africanus South, Chenin Blanc is my national white wine, so we are told. It is was one of the grape varieties lovingly crushed by Jan van Riebeeck’s singing slaves at the birth of South Africa’s wine industry in 1659 and since then has been a ubiquitous feature on the local terroir.
I love a winter vineyard. There is just something magical about the starkness of the gnarled, leafless vines and their bewitching tentacles that strikes a chord with my heritage which is one where the tracks of cold country European wanderers lie etched in the annals of meaningless history.
If Janet Leigh were a bottle of Pinot Noir in the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho and Norman Bates was a cumulative representation of terroir, Janet would have screamed her tits off in that shower scene. No grape, besides Chardonnay, reacts with such hysterical abandon to soil, climate and nature’s other vagaries as Pinot Noir.
A while back I asked MCC-producer Pieter Ferreira for one sound-byte, which is a tad like requesting a single swear word from Gordon Ramsay, as Pieter fits enough ideas and phrases into one sentence to fill a hard-drive. But upon asking Pieter to sum up one single point of differentiation he would use to sell South African wines, he simply answered: “Sunshine.”
The words ?+¦?+º?+¦good and clean and fresh?+¦?+º?+æ may have sold trillions of boxes of washing powder, but these descriptors also reflect the whims of the majority of wine drinkers. And seeing as most South Africans drink white wine, clean and fresh wines are sought, with good being non-negotiable.
Let’s delve into 2012. What are the predictions for this year’s vinous calendar? Here are four. Readers are invited to add a fifth. The best entry will receive a bottle from WineGoggle’s private cellar. Continue reading
The South African wine industry is set to follow the example of local citrus producers by employing the services of wild baboons to help identify superior fruit quality and to create new varietals. This follows the recent international media frenzy where reporters descended upon the Western Cape town of Citrusdal to report on the success a major citrus farmer had after the taste-buds of the mountain baboons had assisted him in creating a new sweeter-tasting and all-round improved variety of orange.
According to Faizel van der Vyver, a wine grower from the Western Cape’s Breederivier wine region, the assistance of baboons in identifying better grapes for winemaking must not be underestimated. “I let the troops of baboons patrol my Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc vines, and it is interesting to see which grapes they eat and which they leave behind,” says Van der Vyver. “Here in the harvest season they will only select grapes at optimum ripeness, around 25?+¦?????+¦???-¬B and disregard bunches that are not yet fit for harvest. Their ability to detect the correct degree of skin or pip greenness is uncanny.”