After 2 weeks in what could very well lay claim to being the world’s most beautiful wine area, Sunday morning dawns over a cold, wet Moseley as a sharp reminder that the hard work to build a customer base for a range of wines that is, without question, the most exciting and well-priced of any that I have encountered in 37 years, is about to start.
With no small amount of help from Tim Atkin M.W.’s 2016 South African report and Platter’s South African wine guide, we assembled a wish list of 18 wineries from which to draw half a dozen or so which would form the basis of a “new to the UK” core for our South African range. The 18 wineries in question provided, I think, an interesting snapshot as to where the industry currently finds itself – from long-established, family wineries such as that of the delightful David Van Velden at Overgaauw to well financed and high profile operations such as Longridge and concluding with “young guns” such as Elemental Bob himself, Craig Sheard. Tragically, time did not permit venturing too far afield and I was particularly disappointed not to get to Swartland on this visit but I suppose that always provides an opportunity for a future trip on another occasion.
Highlights of the trip – stunning scenery at every turn, very high Princess:Frog ratio on wine front, the wonderful gypsy jazz of Manouche performing on the most enormous stage at Stellenbosch wine festival, tasting at Stark-Conde – perhaps the planet’s most beautiful setting for a tasting and lunch at Waterkloof.
And then there was Jordan……..
Our vineyard visits concluded with a visit to an estate whose wines have been a permanent fixture on our list for well in excess of 20 years, that of Gary and Kathy Jordan – widely regarded as the “first couple” of South African winemaking. Having signed the appropriate disclaimer (I kid you not) we piled into Gary’s Landrover for a tour of an estate which probably boasts some of the finest vineyard sites in Stellenbosch and is continuing to expand with their recent purchase of 22 ha from one of their many neighbours. Meeting up with Gary’s Dad Ted en route, we were treated not only to the history of Jordan wines but a Geology lesson courtesy of graduate geologist, Gary. We then concluded with a tasting in Gary’s “office” overlooking the amphitheatre which form their vineyards.
Returning to the winery, we met up with Kathy before being indulged at their internationally renowned restaurant. To say that we finished our trip in style is an understatement – not for nothing is this one of the region’s most highly respected companies and a visit to their vineyards should be on the agenda of everyone touring the Cape. And if you can’t make it that far, you can always get a flavour by calling in on us!
With thanks to all of the wineries that we visited over 2 weeks in one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.
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For week 3 we’re focusing on Longridge:
“With a series of awards and a trophy cupboard which, it’s fair to say, is more along the lines of Barcelona than Birmingham City this is a truly impressive line-up. Stars of the show were the ridiculously pretty, The Emily, a Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend that just cries out to be drunk, a delicate, beautifully balanced 2015 Chardonnay, the truly exceptional, Bordeaux style, Eklipika 2014 – widely regarded as one of the country’s finest reds and, for me the real surprise – Pinotage 2015 – it’s Pinotage Jim but not as we know it; bright, full of sweet red fruit and not a trace of burnt rubber in sight.