Exploring, Visited

Publik Wine Bar


Wine bars in Cape Town are scarcer than a gold hen’s tooth. And when you do find one, you realise it’s not a hen’s tooth at all, just a shitty piece of yellow dirt. Caveau? hah. Harold’s? Please. Oblivion? Pull the other one. ‘Wine-bar’ in Cape Town is something to add to the title of your restaurant to make it sound better. It is an empty, hollow phrase. As long as I have a few glasses and a couple of boxes of Overmeer, I can happily change my name from “Harry’s Bistro” to “Harry’s Bistro and Wine Bar”. Continue reading “Publik Wine Bar”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories

In Defence of the Weird

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968


This post first appeared on WOSA’s Cape Chatter Blog

Reading was my first love. Before girls, before wine, before cricket. I use it to explain how, like wine, the more you know the more enjoyable it is. If the first glass of wine I ever drank was a brilliant Burgundy, or an excellent old South African Pinotage, there is no question that my enjoyment and appreciation would be less than it is today. Similarly, if I tried reading Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne when I was 12, I would not have understood very much. Continue reading “In Defence of the Weird”


Diners Club Enters The Afrikaans Music Scene

Narina Cloete – lead vocals, David Sadie – bass, Hendrien de Munck bongos, Emile van der Merwe accordion, Attie Louw banjo.

Nobody was quite expecting this. Diners Club have been making their way into the wine industry for a while now. Indeed, with the amount of competitions they are involved with (winelists, winemaker of the year, platter) one could easily imagine they have a side business in certificate printing.

What nobody saw coming was the charge card company’s attempt to break into the lucrative Afrikaans music scene. The plan is simple.  The finalists for their Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year competition were thrown into a studio, and hammered out “100 Afrikaanse Treffers” (For My international readers that’s ‘Afrikaans hit’s) in an afternoon. Continue reading “Diners Club Enters The Afrikaans Music Scene”

Exploring, Wine Reviews

Fable Mountain Vineyards: “Don’t label us, just look at our labels”

fables lake

Apart from wine, work and grapes, vineyards provide us with much beauty. The aesthetic pleasure we find in vineyards, I think, stems from the collision between lands that produce good wine grapes – hills, steep slopes, river banks, mountainous valleys – and the human intervention of grape farming.

The steep steps of the Douro, the magical, almost mystical Ribeira Sacra and the slate cliffs of the Rhine immediately spring to mind. Wild, untamed, brutish and violent nature set upon by farmers who order, constrain, and align it to rows of pruned vines. This contrast is where the beauty lies. The starker, the more defined the line between that which is feral and that which is cultivated, the more I think it excites the viewer, the stronger the shove is in the direction of  the sublime. Continue reading “Fable Mountain Vineyards: “Don’t label us, just look at our labels””

General, Opinion, Rants, and Stories

The ProWein Song: Basically Eurovision for Wine (with lyrics)

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 2.45.09 PM
From the helpful sing-a-long video on the ProWein site. All that is missing is a bouncing grape over the lyrics.

Oh deary me. Via @thirstforwine today on twitter I came across this song that ProWein – a huge “international…trade fair for the wine and spirits business” – has commissioned for the fair in 2014. It is possibly the worst song I have ever heard in my life. I really think ProWein should submit it for Eurovision 2014.  Continue reading “The ProWein Song: Basically Eurovision for Wine (with lyrics)”

Drunk, Opinion, Rants, and Stories

Platter 2014: The Launch


For the last three years, on a Saturday morning around this time in November, I have woken to a dull thud behind the eyes, a thirst, that if quenched, would bring about a hosepipe ban, and the woeful admission that have no idea where I am. As I was not attending the 2013 Swartland Revolution, I had expected this last Saturday morning to be somewhat more convivial. Continue reading “Platter 2014: The Launch”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories, Wine Reviews

Reverie Chenin 2012 (and some other ramblings)

REVERIEI love talking to winemakers. They are so wonderfully opinionated. And, most of the time, they have some sort of explanation for their opinions too. Whether it be philosophical, scientific, populist, or controversial, they all are damn sure they are right. Once you get a winemaker going – some will launch into their spiel, others you have to wind up – they take a lot of stopping. It’s great. I love hearing all of these opinions of wine, sulfites, acidity, the market, other winemakers, other regions, labeling, sugar content, new-oak, old-oak, Chenin, Pinotage, whatever. I love it because much of the time it makes me reconsider what I had previously thought on a subject. Only to speak to another winemaker and find myself disappearing down a different path of vinous contemplation.  Continue reading “Reverie Chenin 2012 (and some other ramblings)”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories, Wine Reviews

Are South African Wine Drinkers A Little Green?

“Harry, come in here.”*

I stopped trying to charge my phone from a dying macbook – so I could inform the dearly beloved I was picking up some wine from Wine Cellar so I’d be late – and walked through to Roland’s office.

“Harry,” Roland, Wine Cellar’s head-honcho, said as soon as I walked in, “you’re young, represent the new wine drinkers of the country, tell Graeme here what you think of Durbanville, their Merlot’s and Cabernet’s specifically.”

I took a chair next to an older gentleman in khaki pants, a check shirt, with pens poking out the top pocket, and short, curly grey hair.

“ummm, well…”

Continue reading “Are South African Wine Drinkers A Little Green?”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories

The Last ‘Writing About Writing’ Post


Before I get back to writing about specific wines, you know, wine writing, I thought I would get a few more thoughts out about  – to use the current phrase – wine communication.

Over the weekend I have been drinking some micro-brews (Lakeside’s APA, and Devil’s Peak IPA. Devil’s Peak,  think I love you.) while thinking about what people want to hear about wine. Coincidentally, during this time, I saw many tweets relating to the #dwcc, the Digital Wine Conference, no, wait, Digital Wine Conference Conference? Damn Wine Competitions Creepy? Disillusioned Wine Chaps Converse? Duh,  Wine Cheese Crackers? Disaster, Wine’s Cheap Cheerful?  Oh, I see, sorry, it was the Digitial Wine Communication Conference. Obviously.

Continue reading “The Last ‘Writing About Writing’ Post”


The Aussie Made Me Do It

Yup, this guy.

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been writing recently. This happens every time I start to believe my own bullshit. When I start taking wine too seriously I get fed up with the whole shebang. This is a terrible attitude for a wine writer.

I have, however, been spurred into action by David Clarke’s recent guest blog on Tim James’ site, where he lists some of his first impressions about the local wine scene. I agree with all of them, but I think they come with added weight, because they are written from an outsider’s POV. We need more stuff like this.  Continue reading “The Aussie Made Me Do It”

Drunk, Wine Reviews

Eben Sadie’s Historic 2012 and 2011 Releases


As I have taken a break from writing and thinking about wine – my mind has been in Namibia, writing scripts for an audio guide set in that arid country – I’ve realised I was beginning to take it, and as a consequence myself, far too seriously.

The role of taking a subject very seriously is important, and there are enough of those people around, despite the fact no one in this country cares to pay them much for their opinions. Taking yourself too seriously is a guaranteed road to humiliation, short-sightedness and drowning in a pool reflecting your own face.

There were signs I was on this road that I didn’t notice. Scoring wines. I started arguing for their importance and usefulness on this blog. Who did I think I was? Robert fucking Parker?

Silly of me.

There is more to write about than wine. And soon – I can just see it poking out in the misty future – a new site will emerge here where I will write generally, for my own amusement. Wine will of course remain, but this niche has got uncomfortable, so I am going to blow that popsicle stand.

That being said, I would like to make a self important pronouncement anyway.

Eben Sadie’s new releases mark a turning point in South African fine wine. 

Continue reading “Eben Sadie’s Historic 2012 and 2011 Releases”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories



While many seem adept at carrying on a 9-5 and blogging as if their bank account’s depend on it, I seem to value ‘harry time’ too much. Yes, that does mean I have a new job. Yes, that is the reason for the lack of posts last week. No, I am not sure what is going to happen going forward.

The first thing is to get through the backlog of stuff I was planning on writing about.

Most importantly, Eben’s new releases, a historic point for South African fine wine.

Next, and equally historic, will be the Hermit on the Hill’s new label, followed by posts on Webersberg, Waterkloof, Breneissance (I have decided I don’t like the name), and a cool box worth of wines I have not yet posted reviews of.After which i think I will be again shifting my focus here. The second task is to win those damned wine writing prizes. At least it’ll make getting into this ridiculous racket pay for something other than hangovers.

With a job the daily review nonsense will probably pass, scores will become a moot point (you’re lucky, I had a whole post lined up on that front) and well I don’t know.


Drunk, Wine Reviews

Crystallum New Releases and/or Launch


Pinot Noir is the cliche grape. No other variety gets bombarded with more hackneyed descriptions, casually sexist metaphors, and marketing nonsense. Seriously. Is there nothing more we can say about Pinot Noir than it being a feminine, heartbreaking, difficult, expensive, steel-fisted, velvet-gloved, grape? Of course we can. Burgundy. And South African wine people say it over and over and over.

I think I’ve written before about how South African wine people are too damn worried about how our wines taste compared to more famous international examples. We have a huge inferiority complex. Whether this has come from years of burnt rubber accusations, hundred and thousands of litres of shitty bulk wine, or apartheid, I don’t know. But it is there.  Continue reading “Crystallum New Releases and/or Launch”