Raise a glass to birds and bees
Graham Howe has come across a new wave of conservation wines which celebrate the winelands’ diversity of wildlife
THESE wines help to raise awareness of the need to preserve the habitat of all the buck and baboons, the birds and the bees.
The Cape is a world leader in biodiversity — and for every hectare of land planted to vines, wine farmers have set aside one hectare for conservation of indigenous vegetation and wildlife. Celebrate 2010 as the UN International Year of Biodiversity by raising a glass of “green” wine.
Wine lovers can support all the wine farms which promote sustainable viticulture accredited by the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative. Watch out for the “conservation in action” stickers in the form of the red protea on the wines of 170 producers which belong to the BWI initiative. Their ranks include 15 “biodiversity champions” — among them Backsberg, Cloof, Delheim, Graham Beck, Lourensford, Paul Cluver, La Motte, Oak Valley, Vergelegen, Waterfkloof and Waverley Hills.
You’ll also spot the new “sustainability seal” on wine bottles launched this year. Every seal carries a unique number, through which the wine’s origin can be tracked from vine to bottle.
Only wineries accredited by the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) which promotes sustainable viticulture — integrated pest management, worker welfare, conservation of biodiversity and reduction of greenhouse emissions — from vineyard to cellar carry the green seal — a first for brand SA, exported all over the world.
A mixed case Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2007. Wine dogs are much-loved members of the family on many Cape wine farms. Beyers Truter’s elegant new Pinotage is named in memory of his legendary Great Dane/Boerbul crossbreed. The winemaker says, “When Diesel started eating the grapes off the vine I knew the time was right to pick the Pinotage.” Leopard’s Leap Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2006. This elegant black label bearing a golden leopard crest raises funds for the Cape Leopard Trust which seeks to protect the endangered Cape mountain leopard in the winelands. Made by La Motte, a BWI champion, the wines are made in the cellar’s classic French style. Laibach The Ladybird Red 2008. A complex five-way Bordeaux-style blend is named after the good ladybugs on the delightful dotted label which eat the mealybugs which threaten the vines. This intense dark red wine oozes charm and won the Nedbank Green Wine Awards in 2009 for “best red wine from organically grown grapes”. Lazanou Chenin Blanc 2008. Made from old vines in organic vineyards in Wellington, it shows classic varietal character with a leesy nose and ripe tropical flavours. A serious Chenin, it was voted best overall wine at the Nedbank Green Wine Awards in 2009 for “best white wine from organically grown grapes”. Neethlingshof Caracal 2005. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, it is inspired by the appearance of one of SA’s wild cats on the BWI conservancy at Neethlingshof. This luscious Bordeaux-style blend has a colour as vivid as the rooikat on the label. Neethlingshof The Owl Post Pinotage 2006. This ripe, rich wine with a raspberry, cherry and vanilla character bears a delightful sketch of the owl posts put in vineyards to promote natural pest management instead of pesticides. Grown in a single vineyard, it draws attention to the practice of sustainable IPW viticulture. Oak Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009. A BWI biodiversity champion, this eco-cellar in the Elgin area was named winner of best environmental practices award in the inaugural Nedbank Green Wine Awards in late 2009. The new 2009 release shows classic coolclimate flavours of pineapple and granadilla in a flinty five-star wine. Painted Wolf Pinotage 2008. Inspired by the motif of the African wild dog— aka as the painted wolf — winemaker Jeremy Borg makes authentic Cape blends like Lekanyane and Madach in three labels called “The Pack”, “Cape Hunting Range” and “The Den”. Expect flavours as big and bold as the dog in action on the labels. Splattered Toad Sauvignon Blanc 2009. A zesty wine as lively and throaty as the endangered amphibians on the delightful green froggy label. Cape Point Vineyards donates R1 of every bottle sold to the Western Leopard Toad Committee to sponsor the costs of erecting toad conservation signs alongside roads on the Cape Peninsula. Stonehill Bristle Red 2008. This boutique winery in Devon Valley, Stellenbosch, has launched a grassroots campaign to raise funds for the Animal Welfare Society. Co-owner Lorna Hughes has affixed the delightful stickers on 20 000 bottles — including her beloved Bristle blends named after one of her eight cellar dogs — all rescue mutts.