Grapevine Archive for Stellenbosch

Wed 01 Jun 2016

Postcards From Stellenbosch

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Kanonkop is an essential stop on any visit to Stellenbosch, even more important now they are supplying our Exhibition Pinotage, which returns this autumn.

Kanonkop’s Paul Sauer – named after the Kriges’ grandfather – is one of the Cape’s best-known Bordeaux-style blends. Look out for the mature 2008 coming in July and impressive 2009 in our August Fine Wine List.

Kanonkop Paul Sauer

This handsome selection appears in the refurbished tasting room on the estate. There is now a small gallery of local art, as well as cheese platters to order & BYO picnic opportunity for summer visitors.

Warwick Estate
The now super-fashionable Land Rover Defender (always iconic, now sadly no longer being produced) has long been the wine farm’s vehicle of choice. Warwick has adapted two for its Wine Safaris which offer a great (if bumpy!) way of visiting the vineyards.

Warwick Estate Safari

Hopefully the experience will not cause you to call on your travel insurance, and I suspect small children would not be allowed, but there’s a play area to cater for them too. Also note these do require booking in advance. Warwick really has thought of everything.

Warwick's Mike Ratcliffe and my colleague Steve Farrow

Warwick’s Mike Ratcliffe and my colleague Steve Farrow

The weather was more autumnal on our visit but we did not miss the opportunity for spectacular views and a brief tutorial on the Simonsberg-Stellenbosch ward (appellation), which is home to some of the Cape’s top producers of Bordeaux grapes.

Look out for more on this buying trip soon on Travels In Wine.

Jo Locke MW
Society Buyer

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Mike Ratcliffe, of Warwick Estate, looks back on last week’s successful South African tastings.

I am sitting comfortably at my desk in South Africa reflecting on what has been a superb, but all too brief trip to the UK. The weather was magnificent and has done nothing to allay my confusion about the Brits’ continual fascination with griping about the weather. It never seems to rain when the South Africans come to town! Perhaps we are just hot-wired and pre-programmed to avoid poor weather.

As usual, The Society put on a meticulously planned and flawlessly stage-managed effort, first in London and then in beautiful Nottingham. There are few wine tasting events in the world that I can always predict, with monotonous accuracy, are going to be highly successful. It never ceases to amaze me how punctual members are; the way in which up to 250 members roll in through the door as it opens is incredible. There are also few tasting events around the world that bring such a large number of highly engaged and deeply interested people into contact with a small group of focused professional winemakers. It is really a match made in heaven and this recipe played itself out again last week. Kudos must go to The Society’s Tastings & Events Co-ordinator Emma Howat for her organisation and the way in which she made the South African winemakers feel at home. But ultimately it is a team effort and Society staff are never short of a smile or a kind word.

Warwick has been supplying The Wine Society since 1994 (I think) – a considerable track record for any South African producer. It was my mother Norma Ratcliffe, Warwick’s very own ‘First Lady’ who first developed the relationship with the Society. It really has been a fabled relationship and there is much debate about how many vintages of Warwick Trilogy have been purchased, aged and opened by members determined to purchase this wine year after year. It is a little warm and fuzzy at the tastings as so many of the members have a story associated with our wines. The Ratcliffe family at Warwick is excited now to be rolling out the new Warwick ‘The First Lady’ Cabernet Sauvignon to Society members – may the fabled love affair continue. This is what wine is all about and it is great that history, passion and professionalism swirl so comfortably and effortlessly together.

Thank you to everyone that made the recent South Africa tour possible. It was an honour to attend and a pleasure to be involved. See you in 2012.

Mike Ratcliffe
Warwick Estate

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Thu 01 Apr 2010

South African Celebration

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Football fan or not, South Africa is sure to catch your attention this year, as the Cape prepares to host the 19th World Cup (11th June to 11th July). The PR machine is already rolling, showcasing South Africa’s vivid culture, its stunning scenery, its increasingly acclaimed wines, and of course its passion for football.

I was lucky enough to get a private tour of the beautiful new Cape Town stadium just prior to completion and that, coupled with the infectious excitement across all shades of South African society, will ensure that I tune in with greater personal interest than football usually inspires in the Locke household.

The most important part of my December visit, however, was to discover new wines, whether from estates completely new to us or revisited after some absence. I also tasted new wines and vintages with our favourite producers. The target – a particularly difficult one in a region as diverse and exciting as the Cape – was to select our top thirty wines, from the affordable everyday to the drop dead gorgeous, for our South Africa offer later this month. One theme emerged strongly and sits successfully in both camps: Rhône grape varieties, for whites and rosé as well as reds, and we will offer our pick of the best. Another that springs easily to mind is the braai, or South African barbecue, which celebrates the wonderful combination of fine, fresh food, delicious flavourful wines, and an unmatched landscape – usually with sunshine thrown in!

You will find a selection of BBQ friendly wines in a mixed case in our April List and still more in the offer itself. One winemaker who does both with apparent ease is Carl van der Merwe, from Quoin Rock in Stellenbosch -= one of our ‘one to watch’ recommendations.

Categories : Rest of the World
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