Judging Chenin Blanc in South Africa

Photo: Bettina Botha

Three days. Seven judges. 145 South African Chenin Blancs.

It was the second year of the new look Standard Bank Top 10 Chenin Blanc Challenge, and I had been invited back to be the overseas judge again. So I spent an enjoyable time at Longridge Estate, where the judging took place, poring over [...]

Some wine with Ken Forrester

Had dinner with Ken Forrester and tried a few of his wines. Ken is the dude.

Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage 2014 Stellenbosch, South Africa
So impressed with this: inexpensive and deliciously drinkable. Single vineyard, 120 tons, Vin7 yeast. Fruity, generous and ripe with nice clean, ripe, sweet black fruits. Stylish and quite elegant. 88/100

Ken Forrester Renegade 2011 [...]

Fun with Ryan and Samantha - Skurfberg, Jamet, Silvervis et al



So Ryan Mostert and Samantha Suddons, of new winery Terra Cura, popped round. They brought with them a couple of boxes of wine, so we sat, tasted and drank. Some very interesting bottles.

Sadie Family Skurberg 2010 Olifants River, South Africa
From a vineyard of decomposed sandstone planted between 1940 and 1955, this is Chenin [...]

Gamay focus, 5 - Radford Dale Thirst Gamay Noir

There’s not much Gamay in South Africa – just 13.3 hectares planted. It’s for this reason that Alex Dale wasn’t keen for me to reveal to the world the location of the two vineyards he sources this wine from. It’s freshly bottled, and needed decanting before we tasted it, but this really is a lovely [...]

The Breedekloof Chenin Blanc initiative

Before this tasting Breedekloof was totally off my radar. So it was great to catch up with three Breedekloof guys, Pieter Cronje, De Wet Lategan and Attie Loew to hear about a new Chenin Blanc initiative in the region.

Breedekloof is a relatively undiscovered area. You reach it by going through Paarl, through the tunnel in [...]

In South Africa, day 1, two exciting new wines - Patatsfontein and Haarlem to Hope

I’ve been in South Africa for one afternoon and a sleep, and already I have much that I want to report on, but for starters I will talk about two exciting new white wines that I have tasted. I had them at dinner last night with Reneen Borman and Gavin Bruwer.

The first is from Reneen, [...]

Three from South Africa

Had three interesting South African wines last night. Here are my notes. Two were served blind (Cartology and Blank Bottle).

Cartology 2013 Western Cape, South Africa
A blend of Chenin Blanc plus a bit of Semillon, from old bush vines. This is richly textured with a bit of spice and lovely bold pear fruit. It’s a generous [...]

Franschhoek, the final day

The last day in the valley. It began with another run with Kevin and Gary. The same 6.5 km route taking us out to the monument, then round past Mr Branson’s new purchase (Mont Rochelle), and the new developments on the extensive properties owned by Analjit Singh (who purchased the three adjoining estates of Dassenberg, Von [...]

In Franschhoek day 4, Petite Ferme, the AGP guys, and Foliage

Day four in Franschhoek started a little sluggishly. It was raining hard at Glenwood, where I’d been staying, so a 3 am bedtime plus the precipitation put paid to rather ambitious plans to run a 10 k in beautiful settings.

I had an interesting day ahead. I started off with breakfast in town, followed by a [...]

In Franschhoek, day 3

So, my third day in the paradise that is the Franschhoek valley. I began at La Bri, with Irene Waller (above), who has been making wine here for a while. It’s a lovely spot, and the wines are really good. Viognier impressed, as did the superb 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Release. There’s a lovely freshness [...]