Wine connoisseur and marketer Bernard Kotze from Du Toitskloof Wines recently undertook a trip to America which resulted in an impassioned piece of correspondence. This I share with permission.
Dear Brother Emile
I hope that when these few lines reach you they may find you in the best of health. (Plagiarized from “Sonny’s Lettah” by Linton Kwesi Johnson.)
After eagerly abiding by your request to bring you a good bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from my three week visit to America, I feel compelled to share my quest – of-course I’m also aware of my presumptive expectation of you giving a shit. Anyway, what follows is my hero’s journey in search of your Cabernet Sauvignon, wine of origin Napa Valley USA.
Co-operatives are the heartbeat of the South Africa wine industry, some would say the unsung heroes. They produce large volumes of wine, most are situated in locations deemed untrendy by commentators on matters vinous and co-ops are run by white and predominantly Afrikaans-speaking farmers with whom some nosey labour-liberals have issues.
Yes we can. Viognier, South African that is, is deliciously drinkable. But then again, whoever said it wasn’t?
Like Merlot, Viognier has been victim of the shallow throwaway line: “We can’t make that in South Africa.” Said thrower then goes on to pontificate about “excessive greenness”, a perceived hiccup in Merlot’s ripening procedure under South African conditions. Really? So how, pray, is the country making such sterling Bordeaux-style blends if the Merlot is deemed to be so tart?