Last Week in the Cape

 2019-02-03 10:32 PM by


Not only does each year kick off with harvest, but it marks an annual trip to the Cape where I spend time with the winemakers in our portfolio strategizing and planning for the next twelve months of our calendar. 2019 is off to a promising start in so many ways and we really look forward to sharing some wonderful wines with the provinces of Gauteng, the North West, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.

It all began in Franschhoek with Martin Smith of Paserene (formerly the winemaker at Vilafonte). In addition to his award-winning Paserene wines, Martin has crafted a unique wine called Shiner, captivating the palates of wine lovers and the hearts of literary enthusiasts as it comes wrapped in a chapter of his crime novel. Yup, you'll just have to buy every offering in each vintage to read the full story. On a beautiful, hot summer's day, Martin was all smiles with fabulous grapes and had just begun pressing some delicious Chardonnay.

Martin Smith

A second range of wines will soon be joining the lineup. Destined for earlier drinking and delightfully fruit forward and food friendly stay tuned for more on these wines. Martin has some wonderful canine companions that follow closely at his heels too:

Paserene dog

Leon Coetzee of The Fledge & Co. came through from Riebeek West to join discussions and we had a great opportunity to taste some of his wines during the visit. He and Margaux really do travel to extraordinary lengths to harvest and produce some outstanding wines. Look out for two high-end offerings later this year - an elegant Elgin Chardonnay and a Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon. Both are fine wines and will be in very limited supply with exquisite photographs for front labels reinforcing the notion about the art and science of wine.

This post wouldn't be complete without a special thank you to my study buddy and friend in wine Cathy Marston and her special family. Their guest suite was my base of exploration and she arranged an immersive weekend of MW exam practice to boot. This was the lineup featured in our session with Cathy Van Zyl, MW - one of the most incredible mentors an MW student could wish for:

MW prac

This was followed the next day by the mastery of Richard Kershaw, MW - clonehead extraordinaire in the beautiful, cool climate of Elgin. Richard and his family were incredibly hospitable and supportive and I truly feel blessed to have him as a mentor and member of our portfolio.

Cathy Marston will be joining us in Joburg for some upcoming WSET sessions - contact her husband Kevin Marston for more information. This is the gold standard globally in wine education and a solid investment in your future. We see how students completing the program have increased confidence and sell more in their respective settings as they skill up. 

Visiting with the team at De Trafford is always a special treat. Not just because of their incredible vantage point high up on the Helderberg, commitment to quality and incredible age-worthiness of the wines but because it is a place of serenity and peace surrounded by spectacular natural beauty that somehow always makes me feel more grounded after a visit. David had a treat of forages mushrooms laid out that made for delightful nibbling while we worked:

de trafford mushrooms

Hot on the heels of De Trafford was a meeting with Jan Sleet from Richard Kershaw's team. Like, really, really hot. As in, the rental car temperature gauge read 40C in Stellenbosch.  Richard is one of less than a dozen MW's globally making their own wines. While based in Elgin and having won a slew of awards for his Clonal Selection (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Syrah) and Deconstructed Wines (Chardonnay & Syrah); you are missing out if you haven't spent time engaging with his Smuggler's Boot range. Look out for the Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend, the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend) which all over-deliver at their price points. We look forward to having Richard with us in Gauteng soon for some tastings.

Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines, Mvemve Raats & B Vintners (the latter two joint ventures respectively with Mzokona Mvemve and cousin, Gavin Bruwer Slabbert) is a gentle giant based in the Polkadraai Hills ward of Stellenbosch. His unwavering commitment to Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc may not have been "sexy" grape variety choices but he is the master of both in a series of expressions from the unwooded Raats Original Chenin Blanc and Dolomite Cabernet Franc through to his Raats Family Old Vines Chenin Blanc and Raats Family Cabernet Franc then to the minuscule production of his high-density Eden Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. The local and international accolades just keep coming and we are excited to be expanding our Cabernet Franc Workshop this coming year with a panel discussion and more wines! Stay tuned for more. Here's Bruwer with some of his brood - the four legged, furry ones: