Tall Tales of Thelema

Were you to bet on one thing that a chartered accountant is willing to be taken out of his or her comfort zone for, wine would be a pretty good call. If this elixir of life had inspired artists, poets, dreamers, IT-pioneers and media magnates, why not motivate a spread-sheet obsessed CA wishing to get out a bit further than the herbal tea-room and local SARS office?

Gyles Webb was not so much taken out of his comfort zone – he leapt out of it. Hailing from Kimberley where his father was an accountant for De Beers, the diamond guys, Gyles was doing accounting in Durban and drinking beer in the 1970s when there was that epiphany on which so many wine legends are made: a taste of Puligny-Montrachet, a white Burgundy and understandably epiphany-inducing.

And he leapt.

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Ramaphosa Dream City to get Own Vineyard

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.

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Cigar Smoke Likes it Fresh and Cool

Just as the belief that certain wines are best paired with specific dishes is a fake-news device designed by sommeliers and chefs to make their professions marketable, so too is the doctrine assuming that specific beverages are more suited for enjoying with cigars than others.

When lighting a dense, hot Cuban cigar, current wisdom would have it that this mouthful of exotic smoky residue gains an extra dimension when flushed over with a Cognac, Single Malt Whisky or fine glass of Port. Don’t get me wrong: a Partagas Series D No. 4 draws deliciously into a mouth still reminiscing about the flavour of a Graham’s 1963 Vintage Port or a pre-War Frapin Cognac.

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Five Ways Not to be a Wine Wanker

It has been a derogatory term bandied about for some time now. I am referring, of course, to “wine wanker”, two words referring to the type of person inhabiting the wine world who has a penchant for being snobbish, opinionated, sensitive, obsessive, manic and hysterical, as well as general holding a higher-than-thou’ attitude on the subject of wine. There is even a website – www.winewankers.com – to assist in communicating the attributes and contributions of such a type of wine-orientated individual.

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No Country for Plastic Wine and its Low-life Boozers

During a recent road-trip through the majestic open spaces of the South African Karoo, I was once again exposed to the fact that as a nation we have an alcohol problem that needs dealing with. It was Friday afternoon, and from the town of Laingsburg through Beaufort-West and onto the quaint historical hamlet of Richmond in the Karoo’s icy heart, a fair amount of drinking was being done – or had been committed – by the time I hit town.

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Western Wines from Lost World of Colares

In their song “Here at the Western World”, the greatest rock band ever – Steely Dan – are welcomed “with sausage and beer”. But in the real west wine world, chances are you’ll be greeted with chouriço and Portuguese Colares wine.

Colares is the most westerly wine region in Europe. Just ocean-side of Lisbon, this is the kind of place that makes you wonder what the early wine pioneers were snorting when deciding to lay-down vines in this here godforsaken patch of earth.

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The Ever-green, that Mr Douglas Green

Anybody asking “where Douglas Green” will be pleased to know that he is alive and well, and living in a retirement village in Somerset West. Douglas Green Jnr, son of the man who in 1942 founded one of South Africa’s most famous wine brands, is himself one of the true living legends of the industry.

“I’ll always see it being an industry of relationships, good people, deals done with a hand-shake, that sort of thing,” says Mr Green sitting on the veranda of his home over-looking an expanse of well-kept gardens. He turns 90 in December this year, and has been around for most of the modern South African wine industry where he has seen it all.

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100 Years of Alto, and the Song Remains the Same

As in all art, nothing can ever be perfect in the wine world. But Alto Estate does come impossibly close.

Location, yes. Alto lies on the slopes of Stellenbosch’s Helderberg, one of the patches of God’s earth that manages to combine spine-tinglingly magnificent scenery with geography and geology that is ideal for the growing of grapevines. It is mountain granite from the Cape’s Fold belt that has been ground down over the past 1,5 million years, iron-rich and red and rocky, and lovely soil for wine vines to get stuck in.
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