New wave from wine val­ley

Robert­son Wine Val­ley was judged ‘best in­no­va­tive wine tourism ex­pe­ri­ence’ by the Great Wine Cap­i­tals Global Net­work last year. The re­gion, rated SA’s sec­ond most pop­u­lar (af­ter Stel­len­bosch), has un­der­gone a re­nais­sance. Gra­ham Howe finds out more

Business Day - Home Front - - NEWS - Gra­ham Howe is wine and food edi­tor of Habi­tat.

AT ROBERT­SON Slow in Au­gust, one of four an­nual wine fes­ti­vals held through­out the Robert­son Wine Val­ley, I tasted the best of the new wave of whites and reds made by fifth and sixth gen­er­a­tion wine­mak­ers at old fam­ily cel­lars. To­day the re­gion is fast grow­ing its rep­u­ta­tion as the home of best­selling brands — among them Ara­bella, Bon Cap, De Wet­shof, Four Cousins, Gra­ham Beck, Golden Kaan, Klip­drift, Robert­son Win­ery, Spring­field and Wel­tevrede — as well as sought-af­ter bou­tique wine la­bels: Arend­sig Shi­raz 2009. Af­ter seven vin­tages on this bou­tique fam­ily farm, wine maker Lourens van der Westhuizen has earned a rep­u­ta­tion for the great at­ten­tion to de­tail in his sought-af­ter Shi­raz and Chardon­nay. Ev­ery­thing is done by hand from bas­ket­press to la­bel­ing. He says, “My fo­cus is on mak­ing sin­gle vine­yard wines that ex­press ter­roir and fruit char­ac­ter and less wood.” Bon Cap The Per­fect Blend 2009. An in­no­va­tive blend of Pino­tage, Petit Ver­dot and Caber­net from “the largest or­ganic fam­ily win­ery in SA”. Over the last decade, Roelf and Michelle du Preez have put Ei­lan­dia Val­ley on the map, ex­port­ing su­perla­tive Pino­tage and the el­e­gant blends of wine­maker Mar­i­nus Pot­gi­eter. Bon Courage Chardon­nay Pres­tige Cu­vée 2009. A wine tast­ing un­der the pep­per tree at the old manor house is sim­ply un­for­get­table. Fa­therand-son duo An­dre and Jac­ques Bruwer make classy Chardon­nay (and Shi­raz) — whether you like it oaked, un­wooded or in the big Brut named world’s best bub­bly at IWSC in London. Christina van Lov­eren Méth­ode Cap Clas­sique. A maiden MCC from the fam­ily cel­lar which makes Four Cousins. The el­e­gant new re­serve la­bel — watch out for the 2009 Chardon­nay, Shi­raz and Noble Late Har­vest — cel­e­brates an­ces­tor Christina van Lov­eren who ar­rived at the Cape in 1694 with the wed­ding kist still in the old cel­lar. De Wet­shof Bon Val­lon Chardon­nay 2009. Danie de Wet, the king of Chardon­nay, pi­o­neered the sig- na­ture white grape of the Robert­son Wine Val­ley in the 1980s — trans­plant­ing the first smug­gled vines from France. To­day, this fam­ily cel­lar makes six clas­sic ex­pres­sions of Chardon­nay in wooded, unoaked, and lees-aged styles. Ri­et­vallei Estéanna 2007. An ac­claimed maiden Bordeaux blend named af­ter the next gen­er­a­tion on this old fam­ily farm — the two daugh­ters of sixth gen­er­a­tion wine­maker Kobus Burger. His great-great grand­fa­ther planted the old­est red mus­cadel vine­yard in SA — source of Ri­et­vallei’s renowned 1908 Mus­cadel. We sip liv­ing his­tory. Robert­son Win­ery No 1 Con­sti­tu­tion Road Shi­raz 2006. This flag­ship blend won Decanter’s Re­gional Tro­phy for Best Red Rhône Va­ri­etal in 2010. Named af­ter the win­ery’s ac­tual ad­dress at No 1 Con­sti­tu­tion Road in Robert­son, the first vin­tage was re­leased in 2004 to com­mem­o­rate 10 years of democ­racy un­der the new con­sti­tu­tion. Spring­field Spe­cial Cu­vée Sauvi­gnon Blanc 2009. Brother and sis­ter Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer are at the fore­front of the new wave from the Robert­son Wine Val­ley. They pi­o­neered site-spe­cific Sauvi­gnon Blanc like Spe­cial Cu­vée and Life from Stone which have achieved cult sta­tus — along­side Méth­ode An­ci­enne and Whole Berry Caber­net — and the val­ley’s first bench­mark red blend, Work of Time. Wel­tevrede Chardon­nay 2007. The great grape of Bur­gundy flour­ishes in the lime­stone, shale and quartz soils of this old fam­ily farm. Wine­maker Philip Jonker ex­presses the ter­roir of spe­cific vine­yards in a range of Chardon­nay wines which tell a story of their ori­gin — in Rusted Soil, Place of Rocks and Po­ets Prayer Chardon­nay. Zand­vliet Shi­raz 2007. Broth­ers Paul and Dan de Wet are leg­ends on one of the old­est fam­ily wine and stud farms (1867) in the Robert­son Wine Val­ley. The sul­tans of Shi­raz who started the red wave back in the mid-1970s stay at the front of the pack with three ex­pres­sions of Shi­raz un­der the stan­dard and flag­ship Kalkveld la­bels.

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