Sau­vi­gnon Blanc vin­tage fit for ‘First Lady of War­wick’

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY - Vine Time With Sam Ven­ter Find some lus­ciously il­lus­trated recipes at www.war­wick­wines.com/recipes

WINE is gen­er­ally as­sumed to be a male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try, but women have been bust­ing this myth since at least the 17th cen­tury as land own­ers and farmers, from the Cape winelands to the hal­lowed cel­lars of Cham­pagne.

Jump to the mod­ern era – where a decade or two ago the number of women wine­mak­ers could be counted on the fin­gers of one hand

Now you’ll need sev­eral more dig­its to count up the women in the ranks of wine­mak­ers and viti­cul­tur­ists, as well as som­me­liers, Cape Wine Masters (the 100 CWM’s are al­most equally split be­tween men and women) and grow­ing num­bers of women study­ing wine­mak­ing at Stel­len­bosch or Elsen­burg.

Many of these women have South Africa’s “first lady of wine” Norma Rat­cliffe to thank for blaz­ing the trail as one of the coun­try’s first fe­male wine­mak­ers.

The ma­tri­arch of War­wick in Stel­len­bosch – where she and hus­band Stan started plant­ing grapes in the ’60s and she has been head wine­maker since the late ’70s – Rat­cliffe was the first woman to join the in­vi­ta­tion-only Cape Wine­mak­ers’ Guild and its first woman chair.

Rat­cliffe has played a key role in the Guild’s Pro­tégé Pro­gramme, which men­tors as­pir­ing viti­cul­tur­ists and wine­mak­ers from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds, many of them women. With De Mor­gen­zon’s Wendy Ap­pel­baum, she founded the Women in Wine Ex­change to of­fer net­work­ing and sup­port to women in the in­dus­try. No won­der then that ladies fea­ture strongly in the War­wick brand­ing and wine range – from Norma’s first “of­fi­cial” wine, The Blue Lady Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon re­leased in 1984 and still made to­day, through to the Three Cape Ladies blend and the out­stand­ing White Lady Chardon­nay.

The First Lady range hon­ours her pi­o­neer­ing role in the wine in­dus­try, and War­wick has re­cently re­named its pop­u­lar Pro­fes­sor Black Sau­vi­gnon Blanc to the First Lady, round­ing out the range which also fea­tures a rosé, Chardon­nay and Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon.

Wine­mak­ers all over the West­ern Cape are brag­ging about this year’s sau­vi­gnon blanc vin­tage as their best ever, and the just-re­leased 2017 First Lady Sau­vi­gnon Blanc surely be­longs in that cat­e­gory.

It just de­liv­ers on ev­ery level – an ex­plo­sive, lay­ered fruity nose leads into su­per fresh trop­i­cal fruit finely bal­anced with zingy acid­ity and a hint of min­er­al­ity.

It’s com­plex but fresh and easy-drink­ing – mak­ing it a must-have summer wine on its own or with the best of sum­mery food.

Pro­fes­sor Black’s fans will surely em­brace its new iden­tity (espe­cially in the First Lady’s slightly lower price bracket, at the same qual­ity level it’s al­ways been known for).

And the good news is that War­wick wine­maker Nic van Aarde is rein­vent­ing the good Pro­fes­sor as a more so­phis­ti­cated sauv-semil­lon blend with a touch of oak – look for­ward to that launch mid-2018.

The First Lady wines de­liver great value in the R70-R90 bracket, but here’s a heads-up for the week ahead: the four First Ladies are go­ing to be on a se­ri­ously good week­end spe­cial at Pre­ston’s stores from this Thurs­day Au­gust 31. You heard it here first!

FOR THE LOVE OF COOK­ING: Hen­drik and Thea Swart, of the Fish River Diner, are de­lighted that their eatery was the only one from the East­ern Cape to reach the fi­nals of the Coca-Cola Food Fest. The cou­ple’s pop­u­lar restau­rant next to the Fish River Sun won the gourmet cat­e­gory of the semi-fi­nal in Dur­ban last Satur­day. They now join other fi­nal­ists at a cook-off in Johannesburg next Satur­day. The com­pe­ti­tion also had cat­e­gories for ‘On the Go’ and tra­di­tional meals. Fish River Diner’s food was cho­sen by the semi-fi­nal judges out of more than 3 500 restau­rant en­tries

SUMMER CEL­E­BRA­TION: Fresh, crispy, fruity War­wick First Lady Sau­vi­gnon Blanc 2017 is a per­fect part­ner to sum­mery foods like soft salmon tacos with ‘groovy gua­camole’.

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