IMW Auction: South Africa Unplugged trip
Jon & Beth Perry and Frank & Saundra Russ – successful bidders for the ‘South Africa Unplugged’ lot at the Institute of Masters of Wine Endowment Auction last year – visited the country’s winelands in November and were introduced to the best that the Cape can offer by Cathy van Zyl MW and the various industry associations and producers contributing to the lot.
The five-day visit kicked off in Robertson with a fascinating visit in the company of Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira (Graham Beck) and Elunda Basson (Distell) representing the Cap Classique Association. This was followed by an informative and very enjoyable day, also in Robertson, spent as guests of the Chardonnay Forum with Johann de Wet (De Wetshof) and Emile Joubert.
The group then travelled to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley and Elgin to spend the day with the Pinot Noir Association. Emul Ross (Hamilton Russell) presented a tasting on the various clones in South Africa in the vineyards and Andries Burger (Paul Cluver) hosted a lunch paired with older vintages; pinot noirs from other areas were shown at an informal dinner. On the following day, Ina Smith of the Chenin Blanc Association introduced the group to that variety. Jon, Beth, Frank and Saundra knew of the grape but didn’t drink it. However, thanks to Shawn Mathyse (Ken Forrester), Carl van der Merwe (DeMorgenzon) and Alastair Rimmer (Kleine Zalze) they left South Africa with a new appreciation of its characteristics and ageability … and promised to add it to their drinking repertoire!
The final day was spent in the vineyards with Rosa Kruger and Andre Morgenthal of the Old Vines Project. The group visited an old chenin block on Nuwedam in the Swartland owned by Christa von La Chevallerie, who supplies grapes to several ‘rock star’ winemakers. She poured several of these wines alongside the vines, wines like Cartology and Rall. Off to Franschhoek, where they walked in the oldest semillon block in South Africa and in an old grenache block to taste the wines made from those grapes (Boekenhoutskloof Semillon and Leeu Passant Dry Red) before a lunch with Gareth Robertson (Anthonij Rupert) to taste a range of wines from old vineyards in Citrusdal Mountains. The final visit of the trip was to the historic Mev Kirsten block in Stellenbosch.