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Since its inception in 2014, the Standard Bank Chenin Blanc Top Ten Challenge rewards each winner with R25 000. But there is a caveat. That prize money must be spent on projects designed to uplift or upskill the farm workers, their families and their communities.
The West Coast Wine Regions hug the stretch between the sea and the Swartland.
While recently exploring the windswept Agulhas Wine Triangle, the southernmost wine region in Africa, I happened upon the mesmerising wines of Pierre Rabie. His range The Giant Periwinkle began as a garagiste concern with Rabie juggling his commitments as an advocate practicing in Cape Town, while making the wines in various rented spaces using Agulhas fruit. Though still practicing law he has now established a home for the brand in partnership with friends Karen van Helden and Robert Stelzner, who purchased a small farm just outside of Baardskeerdersbos, nearby to Elim with three-hectares of vineyards, a cellar and tasting room.
Elgin Riesling,
June 2021
Which grape variety do you most associate with Elgin? Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc? How about Riesling? What, Elgin produces Riesling?
Future proofing,
June 2021
Amidst gloomy pandemic headlines worldwide comes some good news: Cape Wine 2022 has been announced for October. It’s a scant 460 days (or so…) away. It’s also – roughly – the same amount of time that South Africans have spent under lock down or the euphemistically termed “adjusted living”!
Andre Shearer has been in the wine industry for a very long time, having bravely started the US based wine business Cape Classics with his brother Gary in 1991 when SA wines were unknown in the US, and SA’s reputation was still languishing under the ravages of anti-apartheid sanctions.
Wellington is an extraordinary enclave that is home to the James Sedgewick Distillery, Bain’s Kloof Pass, as well as a significant proportion of South Africa’s Chenin Blanc.
“During my first harvest while I was still a student we were doing a pump-over on a shiraz tank and the cellar filled with the most pronounced white-pepper aroma. At that moment, suddenly wine making made sense to me,” shared Natasha Williams on what lit the flame for her.
“This Covid is a wicked thing,” said De Wetshof’s Danie de Wet. “It keeps us all apart.”
With International Biodiversity Day falling on 22nd May, it’s an appropriate time to re-visit some of South Africa’s Conservation Champions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a worldwide economic slump, particularly in the hospitality industry where restaurants across the world were forced to close and lay off staff.
In the late 2020 fire season, which ran from November into April, 857 fires were recorded in the Cape Winelands District by March, according to Wayne Josias, acting Fire Chief for the district.
Do you get more off the beaten track than having to board a pontoon to get to a wine estate? The bright yellow ferry carrying our car trundled slowly across the mud-brown river, while we leant against the steel railings outside. The sun bounced off the water for a soporific effect, a feeling of languor dropped like a veil. From the mad race across highways and dirt roads to get here, suddenly everything slowed right down. Sijnn Wines, approximately three hours from Cape Town, is located in Malgas at the mouth of the Breede River, forty kilometres away from any other vineyards, and about 15 from the southern oceans of Africa. Malgas has been designated as a new ward from the 2010 vintage.
Red Blends,
April 2021
Varietal wines remain a favourite with consumers thanks to their familiar names; Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage and Syrah or Shiraz in the red line up are well-known and have their own fans. What many perhaps don’t realise is even those wines are often blends, as legally, up to 15% of another variety is permitted.
From the Heart,
April 2021
“The heart is a pump,” cardiac surgeon Professor Chris Barnard famously said. In December it will be 54 years since he conducted the world’s first ever historic heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town.
To the average tourist, Bonnievale is a quaint village true to its name where picturesque farm cottages are surrounded by orchards and vineyards, bordered by beautiful, towering mountains. But look beyond this peaceful pastoral scene, and you will note the spirit of transformation burning brightly, and people hard at work creating opportunities for advancement and progress, the Elethu wine farm being a prime example.
A wine farm in the water-scarce Karoo is working towards conservation.
As wine legends go, the pioneering farmers who carved out agricultural land in the Klein Karoo must have been among the bravest and most intrepid. A somewhat unforgiving landscape defined by desert and soaring mountain peaks, dinosaur fossils slumbering some substrata down below, with the sun always hot and relentless. Though in this Mad Max like territory there are oases of green, where crystalline rivers flow, supporting life through the centuries; and ultimately sprouted the crops and homesteads of the early mavericks who first broke this rocky ground.
On the 22nd of February 2021, Wines of South Africa hosted a unique online tasting for the Dutch Guild of Sommeliers. Collaborating with ProChile, we showcased a diverse selection of high-end wines made from old vine vineyards from both countries.
As autumn settles in and winter lurks around the corner in the southern hemisphere, wines to complement the cooler weather are called for.
A tasty conundrum,
March 2021
It’s a real headscratcher: why don’t Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blends sell better?
Seven reasons to take a trip to the Breedekloof Wine Route or to treat yourself to a Breedekloof wine.
Attie Louw is as refreshing as one of his chenin blancs; humble and down-to-earth, he emanates kindness like a second skin. There’s no chip on this shoulder, no point to prove – he’s simply passionate about family and about chenin blanc. He’s the winemaker (slash marketer) for Opstal Estate, located up on a ridge in the Slanghoek Valley (a sub-region of the Breedekloof).
Breedekloof discovered,
February 2021
The road is long and straight, the scenery dramatic. Towering mountains, snow-capped in winter, cascading waterfalls, eye-catching fynbos and wild flowers, wild animals too; the Cape Leopard and endangered geometric tortoise roam there; importantly, lush vineyards snaking the contours of the mountain slopes are a further attraction, as are the wineries where they are turned into wine. Of course, there’s a river running through it; the Breede (wide) River takes centre stage.
Rapid renaissance,
February 2021
The Chenin Blanc Association is one of the winelands’ most dynamic producer bodies – and it’s done a phenomenal job in making consumers the world over aware of what a treasure trove South Africa boasts.
The Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) is a work readiness programme for students looking to make a positive change in their lives. It focusses on both the Wine and Fruit Sectors and gives students the opportunity to attain industry-endorsed qualifications with a strong emphasis on developing the personal skills needed to succeed.
Chenin Blanc is a grape that is repeatedly met with great acclaim, creativity and ingenuity in South Africa.
The South African wine industry is an engine of transformation, don't switch it off