Back to school, in a wine trade sort of way

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The new term has started. After the excitement of Cape Wine (which I will not forget for a long time), it’s now back to the busy wine trade calendar. The next few weeks see the major supermarket press tastings (vital for those of us who have weekly national newspaper columns to populate), agency tastings, winemaker lunches and dinners, and the usual diary clogging (and clashing) invitations for events that I really ought to go to but which physically I just can’t fit in.

Duncan Savage and Craig Wessels

Duncan Savage and Craig Wessels

Yesterday I was in town for two reasons. First, the Co-operative press tasting. This was really good: some lovely affordable wines here – a real step up from the same event earlier in the year. I’ll be recommending my favourites here in a day or two.

Pieter Walser and Catherine Miles

Pieter Walser and Catherine Miles

Then it was the Hallowed Ground/Swig portfolio tasting. These are two of the very best agencies around and there were a lot of really serious wines to taste. I was short of time, but I managed to taste the wines of two rising South African stars: Pieter Walser of Blank Bottle and Craig Wessels of Restless River. Full write ups will follow. It was also super cool to spend time with Duncan Savage, Adi Badenhorst and Alex Starey.

Adi Badenhorst and Craig Wessels

Adi Badenhorst and Craig Wessels

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After the tasting we popped over to the pub for some beer, and then I gatecrashed dinner at 2850 with all the winemakers, and also the Hallowed Ground and Swig teams. It was such a fun evening.

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Just one story to tell, and it’s a good one, from Pieter Walser. He’s got a wine that’s called Familiemoord, which translates as family murder. The label is taken from a newspaper cutting running the story of how Pieter was accused of killing his child – the prime suspect in a murder case! He evidently wasn’t very good at it because his son is still very much alive.

So, the story. A couple of years ago he wanted to build a sandpit for his son, and the best source of free sand was on a disused property next door to his. To access this sand he removed a rectangular layer of grass and dug out what to an onlooker would look very much like a shallow grave. His son came along and jumped in it, and as a joke Pieter shovelled the sand in over him, leaving just his head uncovered.

This father and son fun, however, looked suspicious to some kids riding by. They clearly saw a man killing a child with a spade and then burying him in an improvised grave. Murder! This is what they told the police, and shortly after a large number of them turned up to the crime scene. Neighbours gathered round, as the crime scene was fenced off and investigations began. And Pieter came out only to find himself arrested as the only suspect. This was the inspiration for the Familiemoord wine.

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