On change, and the end of the Swartland Revolution

So the Swartland Revolution is no more. After six events, this remarkable wine festival has called it a day. It seems sad, but it’s a wise and brave decision. Everything has its time, and just as there is a time for beginnings, there is a time for endings. It takes courage to end something: it’s [...]

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’ [...]

Pure drinkability: Radford Dale Thirst Cinsault 2015

Cinsault used to be the most widely planted red grape variety in the Cape, responsible for many of South Africa’s most ageable wines (it was often an undisclosed blending component, and reds with it in the mix usually benefited). It was seen as a workhorse, though, and now there are just under 2000 hectares left. [...]

B Vintners: an exciting 'vine exploration' winery from South Africa

B Vintners is a collaboration between cousins Gavin Bruwer and Bruwer Raats. They describe it as a ‘vine exploration company’, and the aim is to tell the story of the heritage of the South African wine industry, and looking at sourcing grapes from some of the most interesting vineyards in the Cape. The prime focus [...]

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 [...]

South African fine wine comes of age: the new wave South African tasting

Yesterday was the New Wave South African tasting, held in a really cool venue under a vinyl shop in Soho. Rarely have I been to a tasting where the wines are as consistently good and interesting, and the people presenting them so great. There was a real buzz about the place.

There was also the sense [...]

Back to school, in a wine trade sort of way

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 [...]

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 [...]

Changing views on ripeness in South Africa: a welcome development

One thing that my tastings at Cape Wine has reinforced, is something that I have believed for a while. It’s that it is possible – even in quite warm climates – to make wines with moderate alcohol levels. I tried many lovely wines that had alcohol levels in the range of 12-13.5%, and one or [...]

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. [...]