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.
I was looking at a dead goat and drinking the finest Chardonnay in the land. The goat was big and fleshy and red, and this being the Restaurant at the Newton Johnson winery in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Chef Eric Bulpitt was deftly dissecting the creature with a razor-sharp knife, the kind used for settling old scores in Sicily. He was preparing lunch for a few hungry wine-tasters, which brings me to the Chardonnay.
Despite the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley having made the Heartbreak Grape its own it’s worth remembering that South Africa’s first Pinot Noir was planted on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Simonsberg in 1927, the location being Muratie Estate. Erstwhile Muratie proprietor, artist and bon vivant George Canitz was a buddy of Prof. Abraham Perold, the viticultural guru who “invented” the Pinotage grape, and it was Perold who indulged Canitz’s wish to produce a “Burgundy” in Stellenbosch.
Prof Perold was an eager beaver to help out, although it has come to the fore that the Professor’s relationship with Muratie was based on more than a bit of experimental viticulture and a jovial drinking buddy in Canitz. Perold had a serious case of the hots for Canitz’s daughter, Annemie, and this air of romance no-doubt assisted the relevant parties to go about the task of creating Pinot Noir with heartfelt passion and possibly more than a few rootstocks were planted.