- We celebrate 364 Years of South African wine on Thursday the 2nd of February.
- Brookdale Estate opens the doors of its Bistro on Wednesday the 1st of February.
- The Italians take the Cape with last week’s Gambero Rosso Top Italian Wines Roadshow - an ode.
Happy Birthday South Africa
"Today, praise be to God, wine was made for the first time from Cape grapes." - Jan van Riebeeck, 2nd February 1659.
2 February marks the birth of South African wine and thus cause for great celebration.
As with all great birthday celebrations, we'll take the month. If you were foolish enough to participate in the well-meaning, slightly misguided Dry January initiative. This new month should also be cause for a well-deserved glass of something good. Something we've got a lot of.
2 February also marks the start of one of the busiest times in the South African wine calendar. This time of year, Winemakers usually spend their time feverishly patrolling the vineyards, looking for that cosmic sign that it is indeed time to start picking. Some employ highly scientific and technological methods to ascertain the precise moment, and some still await a proverbial sign from God.
Once that process has been initiated, you'll find them pacing their cellars, pressing, taking readings, submerging caps, fermenting, bottling, and doing all the things that will secure yet another vintage in the bottle. Another year to add to our distinguished winemaking history - and we've got high hopes for 2023.
As such, the annual Wine Harvest Commemorative Event happening on 2 February at Groot Constantia Wine Estate in Cape Town will be one of the last times you'll get to see these men and women of the industry. Before they get well and truly caught up in the business of wine. The black tie event recognises individuals and organisations for their exceptional contributions to Visionary Leadership, Growing Inclusivity, Wine Advancement, and Viticulture and Wine Creation. It promises to be a grand celebration of all things SA wine related.
Tickets are R1000 per person and include a sit-down dinner with entertainment and what I can only imagine to be great wine-related conversation. To book, you can email email@example.com, or if you find yourself outside Cape Town on that date, you can join the celebration virtually by following this link.
To Cape Wine!
Brookdale's New Restaurant
Brookdale Estate in Paarl is owned by Englishman Tim Rudd, who has made incredible investment here against the imposing backdrop of the Klein Drakenstein mountains at the foot of the Du Toitskloof Pass. With Tim Atkin MW, and the Platter's Wine Guide Winemaker of 2022, Duncan Savage, as their first consulting winemaker and mentor to current winemaker Kiara Scott.
One of the youngest winemakers at the time of her appointment and one of the Cape Winemakers Guild's Protégès.
They are making beautifully nuanced wines in the Paarl Valley from some certified old vine Chenin and eclectic field blends that offer an honest representation of this awesome terroir. If you, like me, enjoy a good tasting note, you'd be well advised to consult one Tamlyn Currin of JancinsRobinson.com. She recently reviewed the Brookdale wines and made me long for just a sip.
She wrote of the White Sixteen Field Blend 2021: "Pixelated precision.' This wine, I spoke to it a lot, Kiara tells me. It's a snake-charmer wine. Platinum dust, star flung, thrumming with life." Or the Chenin from heritage vines planted in 1985 (it's slightly perturbing when your birth year is being singled out as herotage): "This vineyard! The wind! I call it the Paarl Mistraal!” "Walking on air."
Or their second label Mason Road Syrah 2020, highlighted by Tim Atkin MW as the best value red wine of the year in 2022: "A very, very happy wine. Sylph-like tannins. Bouncing on bouncing balls. Love it." And while the estate offers luxury accommodation in the form of its imposing Manor House and surrounding grounds, it hadn't been readily accessible to the public up until now.
1 February marks the opening of The Bistro at Brookdale, led by seasoned executive chef Gary Coetzee, who worked for Sol Kerzner most of his career and flanked by the Tasting Room, now open daily from 11:00 to 17:00 (closed Mondays). A beautiful space. I visited it late last year before opening and can promise you this location inspires the same kind of excitement Tamlyn experienced about the wine. Open for lunch Tuesdays to Sundays, with dinner served on Friday and Saturday evenings (Closed on Mondays). You'll be handsomely rewarded for visiting, with the bonus of buying and tasting the wines right there!
Book your table here and consult their website for more information, if only to get directions!
Italians in the Cape
Kings and Mistresses, Mist, and Friulano.
Last week, the Italians came to town. In the form of the Gambero Rosso Top Italian Wines Road Show, with over 30 wineries represented, featuring some incredible examples of their native grape varieties and regions, from Tuscany to Piedmont, you'd be forgiven for getting a bit sidetracked.
They spent Thursday, 26 January, at the Lookout at the V&A Waterfront, showcasing incredible wines to the South African trade and public. Everyone in the industry took the opportunity to taste some of these incredible wines while they had the chance. How are we meant to compete with the best in the world if we don't know what they taste like?
I had the distinct honour of attending a dinner hosted by two of South Africa's Italian wine merchants, Stefano and Lorenzo Gabba of Vino.co.za. This father-son duo had invited the CCO of Fontanafredda in Piedmont and Zorzetting in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a region in northeast Italy bordering Austria, Slovenia, and the Adriatic Sea.
Roberto Bruno of Fontanafredda regaled us with stories of Italy's first king, Emanuele II, who established Fontanafredda for his mistress and true love, Rosa Vercellana, in 1858. And the Barolo from the homeland of Nebbiolo, that today remains an ode to their love.
In contrast, Zorzettig introduced incredible examples of Sauvignon blanc and native white varieties like Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, and Malvasia. With intriguing perfume, impeccable balance, and a total departure from our South African wines. It was an opportunity to explore and travel without travelling. Which is precisely what international wines in South Africa are. With a little research, one can be transported to somewhere completely new, be it with a beautiful red-berried, rosy Barolo from the North of Italy, or a cherry, roasted tomato, Sangiovese from Tuscany, or a weightless Pinot Grigio from the Veneto.
While I can offer you a few chapters on Fontanafredda alone, best you explore yourself with their wines available directly via Vino.co.za