It’s time for another wine trip. This week I am taking you out on the N2 over Sir Lowry’s Pass and town into the lush, green, pastoral valley of Botrivier. This region usually gets bunched in with Walker Bay and Elgin. But, I believe, it deserves it’s own column and trip.
This week I answer a reader’s question: In a crowded wine market such as SA, is there still space for any new entrants? And if so, how should you approach things to ensure you aren’t destined for the scrapheap of failure?
2oceansvibe Radio recently launched our Melrose Arch Studio to much fanfare in Johannesburg. The launch of the studio was our way of answering the desperate cries of our many thousands of Johannesburg listeners who, since being liberated from Morkels ads, “hump days” and “no repeat workday” radio were craving a stronger taste of the Vibe. [...]
I am sure I have mentioned most of these tips in the past, but there is little harm in reminding you of some solid wine-truths. One thing I promise, if you follow any of these tips, your enjoyment of wine will increase. And, hell, isn’t that what life is all about, drinking wine?
We love to forget to learn from the past. Learning from history has never been a strength of human beings. Even though we are continually reminded of our historical forgetfulness, generation after generation thinks it knows better. We repeat ourselves over time, asking the same questions and making the same mistakes; ignoring our artists and poets who have been obsessing over this phenomenon since the first falcon lost its hearing, and the gyre started getting fat.
Instead of ripping into these competitions again, I thought I would try to find a few ways that they can be of use to you. Let’s see if I can find a couple of ways to make these seemingly silly, almost pointless competitions useful.
This is the first in what I hope to be a fairly regular column that offers you a guide to a day or two out in the wine lands. I, your strong livered, hard-of-constitution wine reporter will plan a weekend trip for you; giving all the directions, the best places to eat and sleep, and, of course, the best wine farms to stop at. I thought I would start with the Swartland.
It’s that time of year again when the De Grendel estate takes part in the fourth annual Soup, Sip and Bread Festival in the Durbanville Wine Valley. Winemakers and chefs from the valley will pair soups, stews and wines that will introduce some wonderful winter combinations. It’s all happening over the weekend of 2 and [...]
This is going to be one of those columns that is more useful if you get involved. That’s why I’m telling you now, right at the start, that it would be fantastic, absolutely bloody marvelous in fact, as wonderful as a ham sandwich and a cup of tea on a bright spring day, if you add your two cents once you have finished reading. I’ll try to keep it short, so you have more time to type your comments. This column is about tasting notes.
Lately I’ve been drifting toward the cheaper end of the wine spectrum as the belt has unwillingly been drawn in these tough economic times. So this column’s for stretched budgets, treats, great bottles, and benchmarks. International wines that I have tasted in the last year or so that stuck in my head, that I woke up the next morning still thinking about.
Making predictions is a fools game, but I feel as though I can see a corner in the distance. It’s a corner that local wine producers are turning, or at least preparing to turn. The big, overworked and oaked wines are on their way out. We present a few wines that demonstrate this turning point, and most importantly, you can afford them.
I recently attended a vertical tasting of Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noirs, with a couple international examples thrown in. It got me thinking about Pinot Noir, and then about language, and then whether it is just better to get drunk. I decided it actually is better to think, so here are my thoughts.
Do you ever get frustrated tasting the same wines over and over again? Even if the labels are different, what’s inside never really changes all that much. I can understand this frustration, it happens to me every now and again. Wine is about difference, it’s about different areas, different varieties, different winemakers; at its core wine is about exploration. Wait, that’s not true, at its core wine is fermented grape juice, but you know what I mean. So to aid you in refreshing your palate, this will be the first of two posts listing young winemaker/winemaking teams making exciting personality filled wines from around the country.
Wine is drunk a lot. But what else can we do with the contents of Bachus’s juice bottle? Does wine have to be confined to the glass and stew? Does wine have a life outside sipping and slurping? Surely this most miraculous of beverages has other uses. It does friends, it does. And these uses have got me out of a few scrapes in my lifetime let me tell you about a few.
For the last column or two I have been rather negative, telling you not to drink this, and what not to do. It weighs on a man’s soul to be so negative so often. Today I am going to tell you about a few things that are awesome in the world of wine, things that I am happy to recommend – ideas and wines that will hopefully make your week.
It’s getting to that time when people are saying, “enough with the coffee pinotage already.” I don’t mean they are tired of drinking the stuff, rather that they are fed-up with my rants and raves on the subject. “We get it,” I hear them crying, “you don’t like the stuff. Move on.” I have tried, dear readers, I have tried so hard to seal my lips on the subject. I have tried to make the blasphemy a blasphemy itself. I have kept mum. I have kept it inside. That is, until I came across this: Coffee Pinotage, with bubbles.
Wine tastings. To state the bleeding amputated and mangled obvious, wine tastings are generally the best places to learn about wine if you don’t have an overflowing bank account, or an incredibly well stocked cellar. I can’t recommend going to tastings strongly enough if you are keen to broaden your vinous horizons. That being said, I thought I would give you a little guide of what not to do when you are there. For the most part, the parameters extend to everyday life, and can be summed up neatly as “don’t be a douche”.
The rough and ready salt-of-the earth winemakers of South Africa have been known to, at times, give me kak for being a soft handed, soutie poofta who spends all his time drinking, and none of it working. And despite the fact that they are not entirely incorrect with this assessment, I readily took Adi Badenhorst (possibly the saltiest and earthiest of the lot) up on an offer to stay on his farm for a few days during the harvest, and help out.
As South Africans, the availability of great wine that we are exposed to tends to make us snobs in the vineyard area. Luckily for us, we have brands such as Boshendal to sip on, and while we sip we can be glad to know that the perfection is being celebrated for all its worth. Boschendal’s Grande Cuvee Brut 2007 took home the Classic Wine Trophy Award this week..a well deserved one too.
Do you wonder if you won one of the 10 X R500 Sunglass Hut Vouchers? Or one of the 5 X cases of Boschendal bubbly? Or one of the 5 X cases of De Grendel rosé? Or, better yet, maybe it was YOU who won the iPad 2, from Digicape? Winners were picked by a [...]
When I first moved to Cape Town and thought about Constantia, my mind was filled with images of botoxed ladies who lunch, old money and a nest of well to-dos in a leafy green valley. I was aware of the historic importance of the valley, but details were scant. Today botoxed ladies who lunch still wonder about in my imagined view of the valley, but they are all sipping on excellent Sauvignon Blancs. Don’t miss the competition at the end of this column!
A reader sent in this clipping a week ago, and with a glint in his eye questioned whether wine “experts” are as useful as snake-oil salesmen. The man has a point. When people start advising on matters that largely concern taste, you need to be extra careful for bullshitters. Not as careful as for a bullshitting anesthesiologist I’ll admit – a blagging doctor can kill you. But be careful, because there will be more half-arsed winos than there will be doctors.
The next time you are sitting at your favourite after work spot – sipping on something as the day ends while stress and worry take a backseat for the evening – let your gaze wonder to the other customers and observe how they sip their wines. As I am a frequent visitor to a number of bars/restaurants/pubs/wine-bars/shebeens/picnics/holes-in-the-walls/sidewalks/gutters/parks/etc I have observed how people drink my favourite tipple. And when stress and worry get out from the backseat entirely, kicked out by the third bottle, I find myself thinking about stereotypical wine drinkers based on how the wine gets from glass to belly. I present you with a few of my favourites and most observed.
Wine competitions. Born from the union of Satan and Lady Luck, I loathe them. And there a lot of them too. Just in SA there’s the Old Mutual Wine Awards, Michelangelo, Veritas, Top 100 wines, Young Wine Show, Classic Wine Awards, Diner’s Club Winemaker of the year, the various Top 10s, Nedbank Green Wine Awards, Terroir Awards, and more. There are also, of course, the plethora of international competitions. What are these providing other than extra weight to the competition owners’ wallets? Sod all if you ask me.
It is summer, and here in the Cape the long evenings nudge one in the direction of that most South African past time: the braai. Growing up, however, it was always beer around the braai and wine (white, nondescript, loaded with ice) in the kitchen. There was, of course, the exception in my French uncle for whom a glass of red wine is never far away. But beer was the norm. Beer dominates the braai. Is it some form of magnetic alliteration? Is beer that much better designed for smoke and charred meat? Do we still hold some outmoded idea that wine is for girls and beer is for boys? Or, possibly, is there some emasculation going on when a can is taken from the chief steak flipper and an elegant riedel glass subbed in?
This week I’ll be pairing some wines to three albums that have been occupying my earballs lately. It’s a tad facile. But then it has been shown that music can affect the way we taste wine. Drink, listen, be told a story.
Durban, the sweaty sticky place of my birth. Salty, thick air, slops, shorts, bananas and spice. If Capetonians are laid-back, it is because they’re stoned. In Durban people are simply mellow. It’s built in, climatic. It takes longer to walk through the weighty, humid air. As I was buffeted by this wall of jungle breath, and a filmy layer of sweat – that would remain with me for the next 10 days – formed, I wondered what wines would suit such a climate. And, more importantly, where could I get them?
I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I spend quite a bit of time at the Planet Bar (Thursday nights a must), which is sophisticated and cool, with a relaxed vibe. It certainly is more ‘mod’ when compared to, say, the world-famous Mount Nelson tea room – just next door. So when it came to [...]
In previous columns here I have gone on ad-nauseum about us needing to be more interested in wine. But I thought, maybe I can attack this from the reverse today. If I can get someone to consider the aesthetic of a wine, then maybe it will result in more of an interest. It’s a long shot. You may be thinking that I am being a pretentious wooly-hat-wearing hipster knob-end talking about the aesthetic of wine. I may have to give you the benefit of the doubt; although the wooly hat is very comfortable. Sod it, I’ll give it a go.
What’s the deal with South African Chenin? It has been a variety that I have espoused with vim and vigour since I became a wine consumer of serious proportions. I thought it offered excellent value for money, and offered a range of styles – “I’ll find one for you” I have cried to unbelievers. But had I been fooled by overt sweetness? Was my praise of this variety ill-founded? Had I been hood-winked by easy drinking cheap wines? Did my wallet guide my palate?