Randomly and variously, three things

1. The sale
uvamiraUva Mira, the chardonnay specialist high on the Helderberg, has been sold. It’s been a long time coming – owner Denise Weedon (widow of a mining magnate, from whom perhaps she learnt her acumen) has been holding out for a high price, and it seems it was worth the wait , although for the comparatively poor it’s difficult to imagine the difference between having R60 million – and she got a little more than that, apparently – and a mere R50 million. What on earth do you do with the extra bit!?)  I believe the buyer is the head honcho of Porsche in South Africa. I apologise for not knowing his name; I suppose we hacks should know the names of very rich people.

My main thought about this deal is that it’s a lot of money for a so-so wine farm. If I was looking for a Helderberg property I’d have bought another overpriced one rather – Cordoba. But I believe that there’s now another serious nibble at that other long-for-sale farm.

Incidentally, talking of property sales – I’m itching to talk about one in the process of happening in the Swartland. It seems set to be finalised this week….

reyneke2. The confirmation
It’s always gratifying to a mere provincial hack to discover that one of The Great has similar opinions on at least one aspect of world wine. So I was pleased to read the report of the great Jancis Robinson on a London blind tasting of oaked sauvignon blancs from around the world – though it seems, in fact, that many of them were blended with semillon, which Jancis, like me (and a daresay a million others) thinks is a Good Idea. Jancis also remarked that she “would probably more easily recall thrilling oaked Sauvignons than unoaked ones”, which is exactly my opinion. While I believe that De Grendel’s sauvignon guru, Charles Hopkins, has said he can’t see the point of oaking sauvignon blanc, all my favourite varietal sauvignons are oaked to some degree – not to mention the blends.

Non-subscribers can’t read Ms Robinson’s report, as it’s on the restricted part of her website, but I can tell you that the favourite of the 32 wines on offer, scoring 18/20, was the marvellous straight, oaked sauvignon from Reyneke, the Reserve White 2011 (which I successfully put forward for five Platter stars last year).

In fact, South Africa did very well for Ms R in the tasting, coming top overall, thus (her average score per region/country with the total number of wines in the tasting in brackets):

  • South Africa 16.75 (6)
  • Napa Valley 16.67 (3)
  • NZ               16.43 (7)
  • Bordeaux    16.14 (6)
  • Turkey         16.00 (1)
  • Friuli             15.75 (2)
  • Chile            15.75 (2)
  • Australia       15.67 (3)
  • Loire             15.25 (2)

Her other two Cape favourites were two blends: Chamonix Reserve 2012 (17.5/20) and Nitida Integration 2012 (17/20).

Ms R is coming out to the Cape for a week next January, and I think she’s starting to realise just what an interesting, rewarding time she’s going to have here.

hoeksteen3. The label
Isn’t Hoeksteen a great name for a chenin blanc? It means “cornerstone” in Afrikaans, fittingly for the most planted Cape grape variety, and plays nicely on the sadly under-utilised local name for chenin blanc, steen. (Of course there was already a wine named “Cornerstone” – from Reyneke, where the “crucial” element seems to be the workforce rather than the grapes; I daresay they could have objected to the name, but they’re nice people and, I suppose, didn’t.)

Hoeksteen, made from old-vine Stellenbosch grapes, has been around a few years, but it’s taken me till now to catch up with it, and be even more impressed by the wine than by the name. It’s part of a possibly quirky, definitely interesting, range called The Fledge & Co, made by Margot Nel (winemaker at Boplaas – she’s one of THOSE Nels) and Leon Coetzee. Watch this space – and meanwhile rest assured that you’d do well in buying Hoeksteen 2013 (a good buy at about R100 cellar door), though, if you don’t put it down for a good few years, make sure you decant it well in advance of drinking.

The best winemaker in the Cape?

There’s been a lot of discussion about “best” recently, and I’m grateful to a late commenter on my reaction to Tim Atkin’s ranking of SA wineries, who suggested that possibly Eben Sadie wouldn’t even want “to be called the best … Continue reading

The WSB sniffs Tulbagh’s sea breezes

Oh dear. The Wine and Spirit Board Demarcation Committee have taken three years to come up with more or less the same pathetically incomplete plan to replace the notoriously stupid “Cape Coastal” Region with something more usefully related to basic … Continue reading