Savage Wines Launch

When you’re invited to most wine launches there is a sense of privilege. You feel privileged to be getting a decent meal on the house, a good few glasses of wine, and a chance to taste a wine before anybody else

Last night, however, I felt a different kind of privilege at being invited to the launch of Savage Wines, Duncan Savage’s own label. While the food was great, and the wines even better, the real privilege came from just being there, being asked to witness the start of this project.

Duncan had a long list of people he wanted to thank, and as he made his way through the list it started to feel like a wedding speech. Then came in-jokes between Duncan and brother-in-laws, sisters, and the rest of the fandamaly, and I began to look around for a bride.

To confirm my feelings, Duncan mentioned that the venue – Langverwagt just outside Kuilsrivier – is family owned and is where he got married.

Duncan’s honest thanks to everybody who has helped him get this label going, from farmers, other winemakers, journalists to his family, set this launch apart from nearly every other I have been to.

We were not here to taste the wine and report on it, but rather witness the start of something, the fruits of hard-work, steel-balled risk, a dream coming into reality. Thanks Duncan, it was a privilege to be there.

But what of the wines? Well, that was the other thing that set this launch apart. After thanking everyone, and calling on the waiters to pour the wines, Duncan ever so modestly and quickly said the white was a Bordeaux styled blend and the red a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Cinsault. That was it. No selling, no shouting about unmatched terroir, nothing really.

Which was almost as delightful as it was a little confounding, so used to, I guess, being given every little detail of elevage. So, knowing very little about the wines I sat back and drank them.

In a word, brilliant. And though my inimitable lunching partner, Christian Eedes, was making sure he wasn’t being too generous with the wines because it’s Duncan Savage, and we all know how good the wines of Cape Point are, I have to say these wines are both absolute crackers.

The white blend is angular, tight – very tight, coiled spring tight, duck’s arse tight – and almost cold-shouldered. Precise, polished and wonderfully balanced.

I reckon Duncan has made a wine for the youth…. of tomorrow. While I get immense pleasure from drinking this prickly, austere wine now, my bet is that in a couple of years it is going to come into its own. Blooming from cold hearted-bitch, to a warm and generous lover. I smuggled a ¼ bottle of the white out with me to see how it develops over the next day or two. I’ll let you know.

The red was precise, polished, and light-hearted. Also extremely well crafted. Duncan said during his thank-you’s, that when he and Eben Sadie first met they’d gone to look at a vineyard in Piekenierskloof and ended up going for a surf. On the way back Eben had given him a crash course in how to make red wine. Well, it must have been a pretty damn good lesson.

There is a fine white pepper thread going through the wine, the tannins are gentle whispers and the fresh and singing acidity keeps the wine at attention. Good warming red fruit, and a light on its toes texture, make this a wine hard not to drink quickly. Is it too polished? Perhaps, and myself and another drinker thought there could have been the slightest more rusticity to the wine. But this of course only shows our peculiar tastes.

Both the wines are excellent. And I hear the retail price is somewhere around R150. It’s heartening to see two wines of such delicate and thoughtful styling, with interest, age worthiness, and full-blooded drinkability for under R200.

Thanks Duncan, a privilege.


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