A Pinch of Salt Not Taken Lightly

In conveying the soul of a wine brand, the conveyor’s sense of fun is for me a vital element in attracting my attention, which can be as – well – all-over-the place as a Tik-Tok influencer whose Ritalin prescription has expired. And is any wine marketer having more fun than Peter Pentz?

As the off-spring of Nick, who began the wine operation on Groote Post farm in Darling, young Peter hit the wine scene like a Pieter-Steph du Toit mid-field defensive play when he began fronting Groote Post’s marketing operations a few years back. He is seen all over the place in gregarious and self-deprecating humorous ways, whether it is snapping selfies with Antipodean diva Kylie Minogue at Prowein in Germany, talking about South African wine on various television channels or introducing Groote Post with a broad smile which is genuine and heartfelt, and likable.

It works in the market. Groote Post took a turn to modern lifestyle branding with its stunning Seasalter Sauvignon Blanc, which has been hugely successful, inspiring many other wineries to dust off the look and feel of their offerings and take a looser, more relaxed approach without sacrificing class or quality. That said, this kind of tact requires a delicious wine to underscore the provenance of the property and the premier image of the brand, something Groote Post Seasalter has done. By the way, Seasalter was Dad Nick’s idea, but Peter runs with it.

Peter Pentz, Lukas Wentzel and Nick Pentz.

This success has led to a new wine from Groote Post, namely a Chardonnay going by the name Pinch of Salt. It was released at a recent event at the Zeitz MOCCA art venue in the Cape Town Waterfront, which was a really cool affair.

Guests ranged from wine writers, some members of the trade and representatives from the newly formed body called South African Wine, which – in retrospect – could really have called on someone like Peter when looking for a name to title the local industry’s new over-arching arm.

The event was a casual stand-around gig without painful laborious speeches, pre-seated tables or a time-sapping programme. Plus, the views from atop the MOCCA are great, so one did not have to feel bad disengaging from a boring conversation to check-out the light across the bay.

A star was needed to top-off the event’s success, and I am glad to report that the star was the maiden Pinch of Salt Chardonnay 2023. Peter announced this with just the right amount of fanfare and gravitas before Nick gave some sage background stories and winemaker Lukas Wentzel ran us through the technical aspects of the wine.

Chardonnay is no new thing to Groote Post’s Darling spread. But with the old vineyard being knackered and carrying more viruses than a New Zealand rugby-supporter who had recently spent two weeks in Paris following his team, the Chardonnay was pulled-out. And nine years ago, new material was planted for the basis of Pinch of Salt.

The aim of this is, like Seasalter, an amicable, charming lifestyle wine with just the right degree of seriousness to attract attention but without the over-emphasised steps of manicured complexity to confine it to the self-appointed serious wine drinker.

For this, lees contact in various vessels was undertaken. Tank. French oak barrels. And amphora. Six months’ post-fermentation lees-time was allowed in these vessels before the wine was bottled and ready for market in October of the year of vintage.

Sometimes, the simple matters count in portraying one’s experience of a wine. Mine was in calling Peter post-launch to find where the Pinch of Salt is to be procured in Cape Town, as I want lots of it and I want it now. For it is tasty and delicious, while at the same time offering the kind of comforting pleasure that wine was made for, and the Chardonnay variety offers when done well and is tuned with a specific goal in mind.

The colour is that of hay-bales strewn across a West Coast plain and catching the iridescent glowing rays of the sun setting in the west. A nose of rock-pool washed by an incoming tide warmed with a touch of fynbos and an alluring nectarish spice. What gets me is the presence on the palate where the wine lies like a rivulet of mercury on the manicured palm of a Turkish bride. Here it rests, cool and easy, darting off in different directions as your bewitched senses prod the essence of the liquid that is, simply, a tasty wine.

There is butterscotch and date to be had with a burst of loquat enlivening the senses, while thick-skinned Cape lemon offers a pleasant bitter-fruit grip. No, this is not a wine to evoke drama. Thundering waves belting granite rocks are not to be found, nor a cacophony of rapturous symphonies. Things are all pleasant and easy when drinking it – drinking, more than sipping – like a wooden-hulled yacht sailing across the bay with a firm wind in its sails.

Are we having fun yet?

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