In Franschhoek day 2, Lynx and Landau

Yesterday exceeded my expectations. Just two visits, but they were in depth, and super interesting.

The first was at Lynx, with Dieter Sellmeyer. He and his wife Diana moved here after a rather nomadic existence hopping around the world. He’s an engineer by training, and they bought a lovely property which Dieter planted with engineering-like precision, [...]

In Franschhoek, South Africa

So I am in South Africa again. This time, I’m spending a few days in Franschhoek, with the aim of getting under the skin of this region. I’m staying with Kevin Swart of Black Elephant Vintners, a relatively new enterprise in the valley. I met Kevin through his brother Gary, who is a colleague of [...]

So it's Sauvignon Blanc day

I don’t really like grape variety days all that much. There are, I am told, some 1400 grape varieties grown commercially in the world. So that means that you’d have to share each and every day among at least three varieties, if their allocated days are spread evenly through the year. That could be boring.

It’s [...]

Storm Pinot Noir 'Vrede' 2012, a new star from South Africa

Hannes Storm was, for a decade, winemaker at Hamilton Russell, until he left in 2014 to do his own thing. Well, this is the first chance I’ve had to try one of his own wines, and it’s a very assured Pinot from Hemel-en-Aarde. He’s making two Pinot Noirs, and this one is from a 2 [...]

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 [...]

Three brilliant Swartland wines from Mount Abora

Here we have three brilliant Swartland wines from Mount Abora. They are really compelling, made with low alcohol in a natural way, with lots of interest. They are also living wines, that continue to evolve in the glass, and even overnight in the bottle: I visited them a number of times over a couple of [...]

What the Great South African Syrah tasting tells us


On Thursday a very interesting tasting was held. It has already been written up by Tim Atkin and Christian Eedes, the two journalists who put it together. They were joined by a star studded list of 14 of South Africa’s leading winegrowers to answer the question: just how good is South African Syrah in a [...]

In St James, Cape Town, judging wine

For the last few days I have been in St James, Cape Town, judging wine for the Top 100 South African Wines competition.  It’s the fifth year of the competition, and many of our small judging team of seven have been here since the beginning. So it’s a nice family feeling. We’re led by uncle [...]

A fine wine braai at Klein Constantia with some great old wines

I’m in South Africa, judging the Top 100 competition. Last night we headed off to Klein Constantia, for a fine wine braai in the vineyards hosted by Hans Astrom (pictured below) and his team. It was a lovely evening with some great wines, including three old treats – one of which was the South Africa’s [...]

Testalonga King of Grapes: precise elegance or 'cranberry flavoured wheat beer'?

I was thrilled by this. It’s the latest red from Craig Hawkins in the Swartland, and it has been a bit controversial in the wine press. Andrew Jefford, normally a hero of mine, seems to have it in for Craig, and in a very mean swipe in his Decanter blog he described it as ‘fermented [...]