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””

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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?”

Drunk, Wine Reviews

Eben Sadie’s Historic 2012 and 2011 Releases

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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”

Drunk, Wine Reviews

Crystallum New Releases and/or Launch

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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”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories, Wine Reviews

A Thelema Cabernet Vertical and Notes on Greeness

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Last week saw some rather good wines find their way down my gullet. The first few of those was at a vertical tasting of Thelema’s Cabernet Sauvignon and single vineyard Cab, The Mint. At a time when the idea of ‘greeness’ is on many a South African wine anorak’s tongue, I hoped it would prove an informative tasting, as the latter wine prides itself on its minty note.

[This post got away from me. I feel I am not well-suited to the digital age of short pithy SEO optimized posts. If you want just my thoughts on the Thelema wines feel free to skip down to the bottom. First though, a little introduction to greeness in wines] Continue reading “A Thelema Cabernet Vertical and Notes on Greeness”

Wine Reviews

Nitida Wines and Some Scoring Clarification

Before I get into the wines, I thought it best to clear up something on scoring. While I think scoring wine is problematic, I have found it is not without its uses. I have started using the kak an lekker scale. This is quite obviously silly. But it feels sad-clown silly, rather than monty-python silly. Now I think about it, a sad clown trying to get through a massive blind tasting shouting “kak” and “lekker kak” could be an amusing skit. The point is, calling wines kak and lekker, and fokken kak has already got old. It’s juvenile, and I’m not grinning even a little. Continue reading “Nitida Wines and Some Scoring Clarification”

Opinion, Rants, and Stories, Wine Reviews

Iona Chardonnay 2012 and a Musing or Two

iona chard 2012

Have you ever tasted a wine and been unsure of yourself? In blind tastings this will happen almost immediately, but I’m talking about a sighted, straighforward tasting. You taste a bit of wine and just are not sure what you think. It’s weird. It doesn’t happen that often to me, especially with straightforward wines, but it happened last night, and it’s why I’m sitting here at 9:30 am with a small pour of Iona Chardonnay in front of me, awaiting my final decision. Continue reading “Iona Chardonnay 2012 and a Musing or Two”

Wine Reviews

Migliarina Elgin Chardonnay 2012 – Fokken Lekker

Migliarina chard

Many South African wine drinkers who enjoy their Syrahs serious, and their producers small (you know the types, who are titilated by a hand drawn ’22/1784′ on the bottle) will know of Carsten Migliarina. He only makes around 1200 cases of his own wines of which Platter tells me 65% are red and 35% white. All of which makes this Chardonnay perfect for hipsters who love quality, and like to drink things no one else has.  Continue reading “Migliarina Elgin Chardonnay 2012 – Fokken Lekker”

Wine Reviews

Marvelous Wines

Nicked the pic from the Wine Detective. (text my own, obviously)

It takes some gumption to call your wines Marvelous. But Chef Peter Tempelhoff and wine maker Adam Mason have plenty of that. With Mason now making wine for Mulderbosch, and Peter Tempelhoff overseeing the five restaurants in The Collection by Liz McGrath, they somehow found the time to start a wine label. There are two premium wines – which I’ll put in a separate post – called Yardstick Wines, and then the cheaper Marvelous range named comically, KABOOM!, Ka-POW! and SHAZAAM!. Continue reading “Marvelous Wines”

Drunk, Wine Reviews

Celebrating Carl Schultz’s 20th Vintage: A Gravel Hill Vertical

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Hartenberg has been around a long while. This property on the Northeastern slopes of the Bottelary Hills has had vineyards on it since the mid 1690’s. 20 years ago they hired winemaker Carl Schultz, and it was to celebrate his 20th vintage that I was at the farm recently.

We celebrated with a vertical tasting of Hartenberg’s flagship wine, the Gravel Hill Shiraz.

I’ll give you my notes below, but I first want to comment on what I learned about wine during this tasting. It makes you look a fool, even if it’s only you that know. Continue reading “Celebrating Carl Schultz’s 20th Vintage: A Gravel Hill Vertical”

Drunk, Wine Reviews

Drinking Heroically: SA Brandy vs. The French

Savage LaunchWhen you first taste brandy the natural reaction is, “Ergh god my mouth, fire, Christ, what the hell is this stuff.” If you know the Johnson quote you realize why Brandy is the drink of heroes. You have to be bloody heroic to let something that dammed fiery in your mouth. Continue reading “Drinking Heroically: SA Brandy vs. The French”

Drunk, Wine Reviews

Delving Behind The Boerewors Curtain

Young guns wines

I was invited to an interesting tasting last week. The first in a while as I may have pissed off most of the South African Wine PR firms by suggesting it is to them that words go to die. But that is a rant for another day.

The tasting was put together by four young winemakers all making wines for themselves while keeping down a ‘9-5’ making wine for other people. David Sadie of Lemburg, Jurgen Gouws at Lammershoek, Johan Meyer at Meerhof and Jasper Wickens at A.A Badenhorst all make very good wines in their own right.

Continue reading “Delving Behind The Boerewors Curtain”