The remarkable Cortez 2014 from Testalonga

I’ve admired Craig Hawkins’ Testalonga wines for a while now. They are just so brave. And delicious. [See here, here and here for reviews.] This is his Chenin that’s made without skin contact. It’s fully beautiful, and has no additions at any point: it’s a truly natural wine. Just 10.5% alcohol, too!

Testalonga ‘Cortez’ [...]

Lunch at Chez Bruce with some of South Africa's finest, plus some old world stars

Had a special lunch at Chez Bruce last Thursday, with some memorable wines. Keith Prothero was hosting, and also present were Chris and Suzaan Alheit, Peter-Allan Finlayson, Chris Mullineux, John Seccombe, Nigel Platts-Martin, Greg Sherwood and Jancis Robinson. As usual, the food was close to perfection. But what was really interesting was seeing how some [...]

Rêverie Chenin Blanc 2014 Swartland, South Africa

This was a new discovery at Cape Wine. It’s  the Rêverie Chenin Blanc 2014 from an old vineyard (1978 plantings) in the Swartland. The soils? Pure granite, no irrigation, picked early (19 Balling), fermented in old barrels. It’s made by Jacques de Klerk whose day job is with Radford Dale. Interestingly, even though this is [...]

South African Chenin Blanc: some highlights from the Cape Wine beach party

These are some of the highlights from the Chenin Blanc beach party at Cape Wine, which I caught on Monday afternoon.

It’s great that Chenin Blanc is now fully recognized as one of South Africa’s strongpoints. I guess this isn’t anything new, but the change over recent years is the gain of momentum behind this variety. [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Chenin Blanc and Grüner Veltliner

Two nice wines, from two of my favourite white varieties. The first is an own-label from Berry Bros & Rudd. It’s a sort of better class of own label: Nikolaihof is one of Austria’s top producers. The second is from Mullineux, the current darlings of the South African wine scene, and it’s a lovely old [...]