Prejudices and History: a trip to KWV pt. 1


One of the most fascinating and complex wine institutions in South Africa is the Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging or KWV. OK, I know they are no longer a cooperative, but that name, in Dutch, is retro-awesome. That last sentence should be read with the required amount of irony by the way. Anyhoo.

Continue reading “Prejudices and History: a trip to KWV pt. 1”


Wine of the week thing.

For the sake of regularity, and to give me something to write about when I am tired, uninspired or hungover, I have decided to post a weekly wine choice. Some times it will be text, sometimes a video, and on lazy days a photo might suffice.

My first thought was to find a wine that is readily available so as to be of some use to you. But that makes my mind want to turn around and beat itself into a pulp for being so boring. As boring as most of the wines on a supermarket shelf to be honest.

I drink enough wine that I generally find at least one wine a week that surprises me. A wine that makes me smack my lips, smile, close my eyes and say a silent little prayer of thanks to Bacchus.

These are obviously not always mind altering, shit-in-your-pants, dance-for-joy, cold shivers kind of wines, but they have, for one reason or another, stood out.

The wine that surprised me this week was:

KWV’s Orchestra 2008

This wine won me over not because of its sheer awesomeness,  but rather because it showed up my preconceptions. If you asked me what I expected from a top end red blend from someone like KWV I would have imagined a huge monster of a wine that has high alcohol, quite a bit of oak, and kicks down your door without knocking. This wine is not small mind you, but unexpectedly light on its feet.

It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz. It opened with a nose of tobacco, cassis and a slight minty note. The palate was full and quite juicy with some helpful oak spice. It was densely flavoured and had lovely length, but what did it for me was the refreshing finish that had me clamouring for another sip. It was a daisy pinned onto a pin-stripe suit, a cleansing shower after a dust storm.

I find that a lot of these top end blends are sometimes hard to finish. They grate the palate instead of inspiring it.

I was at the first “Dinner of Six” that Cape Town Girl, Frances Sauvage, and I are holding each month. We invite interesting people to wine and dine with us. The point is that everyone loved the Orchestra and it was easily the wine of the evening. And when I probed a bit I found that everyone was appreciative of the freshness of the wine. So wine makers the people have spoken. Well, 6 of them have at least, but they speak very loudly. Well, last night we did (we were told to keep quiet a couple times). Anyway, hear us now: Viva, freshness Viva.