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

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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.

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