Most pundits would agree that the Kanonkop Black Label pinotage is the best in the land, by the proverbial country mile. But it is made in limited quantities and comes at an eye-watering price (R1450). Consequently supporters of SA’s home-grown variety are always on the look-out for something almost as good and nowhere near as dear. This bibulous community would have opened eyes and pricked ears at the announcement in May that the OMTWS Trophy for Best Pinotage on show went to a rank outsider, Brampton Pinotage 2014. Brampton is a brand established by Rustenberg and bought a few years back by industry megalith, DGB. Important to note that it was the best pinotage on show. In the opinion of this scribe there are many better examples that weren’t entered. Fram, David and Nadia Contour Series, Spioenkop – to name just a few that come easily to mind. But the panel can only judge what has been entered, and they surprised many by choosing this modestly-priced quaffer from a very commercial producer. It’s very decent drop, though, with bright red and black berry fruit, fresh acidity and supple tannins. R65
The wine industry is a place of deep and abiding camaraderie. New entrants, and old hands trying something new for the first time, speak of how freely advice and support is given, without any sense of obligation. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ever side-long glances thrown in the direction of a light that is shining particularly brightly at a given time. There are many industrious and innovative players in other regions that regard the near-fawning attention paid by critics to the wines of the Swartland with some bemusement. Andre van Rensburg of Vergelegen has decided to join the ‘revolution’ rather than stand on the sidelines and observe with necessarily mixed feelings. He’s made a new range of four wines, (throwing down the) Gauntlet, that explores what happens when Andre van Rensburg, Swartland terroir and Rhone varietals meet. And what happens is very impressive, especially in the case of the cinsault/ cabernet blend from 2104. The grapes are sourced from a farm near Malmesbury and the wine is only lightly oaked (six months) to preserve the freshness of the fruit. This combination of grapes is at the heart of the legendary and long-lasting wines of the 60’s, and the Gauntlet is a tongue-in-cheek and delicious nod, not only to the Swartland Revolution, but also to local wine-making history. Only available from the tasting centre, and superb value at R85.
Out to Impress
The wine industry is a place of deep and abiding camaraderie. New entrants, and old hands trying something new for the first time, speak of how freely advice and support is given, without any sense of obligation.
Minor dilemma for a wine writer – does one review a wine of which only 1700 bottles were made, and only 200 of those made available to local buyers? A wine that the reader of the review will almost certainly never have an opportunity to taste? In this case, yes. The wine in question is so very good, and confirms that its winemaker is so thoughtful and gifted, that serious wine lovers need to acquaint themselves with his oeuvre, and get onto his mailing list for future releases. John and Tasha Seccombe set up Thorne and Daughters Wines in 2012 to make wines in a ‘simple, honest and gentle’ way. The Paper Kite 2015 is all of those – but add words like ‘profound’ and ‘exquisite’ and phrases like ‘the best white wine I have tasted this year’. It’s a Semillon made from the oldest Semillon vineyard in the country, planted in 1908 on Landau du Val in Franschhoek. It’s a wine of quite extraordinary poise and grace, insinuatingly haunting in its (oxymoronic) blend of delicacy and power. Shy, and with little evidence of primary fruit characteristics at this stage of its evolution, but there are tantalising hints of spice and herbal scrub and green melon, which, added to the depth and resonant texture of the wine, promise an evolution into something even more dramatic and memorable. R280 for those lucky enough to get a tiny allocation.