I’m supposed to know what’s going on in the revolutionary Swartland – but I’ve just been looking at the details of the Swartland Independent Street Party, and see the names of two producers I don’t know at all. (The Party’s on 10 November in Riebeek Kasteel, 2.30-5pm – click here for details.) As there’s now less than two weeks to go, I don’t suppose I’ll find out more until then, either…
But I look forward to the discovery. All the wines for tasting will conform with the requirements of the Swartland Independent Producers Organisation. Which, the more I think about it, the more I realise is actually remarkable and virtually unique in the “New World” (I think that producers in Marlborough, New Zealand are showing some similar ambitions).
Here is a bunch of winegrowers imposing on themselves a set of disciplines – some of them similar to the rules of French appellations, some of them stricter, some of them less strict – that only imply more strenuous effort for themselves. Believe me, it’s for real. These guys mean it. They genuinely believe that the Swartland can offer something unique, and that working together will help each one of them achieve it. (Some more details here.)
Try thinking of something else collaborative in South African wine that is remotely as ambitious, as comradely, as genuinely full of the love of wine as an expression of what a specific place can offer.
You should, if you can and if you love wine, try some of this stuff, and come and meet the wine-growers. Some of the wines are better than others, of course. Some of them are obviously fantastic, and some of them take a little while and perhaps a few tries and a little thinking and a little abandonment of prejudice and preconceptions to realise that they are fantastic. Or if not fantastic, then at least interesting. And interesting is much more than you usually find on the shelves – even with big price-tags.
And anyway, you could move to the next stall and probably find something delicious. There are, the website says, 23 producers showing wine.
If you can, and if you love wine, you should come to this street party. I think you won’t be disappointed. It’s the culmination of the Swartland Revolution weekend, which is long since sold out – but in fact, in my experience, the street party is the most exciting and valuable part of the weekend, and really embodies the spirit of what it’s all about. (This pic is of the first one, but I’m told that this year there’s going to be a whole lot more space, which is a relief.)
It costs R100, and it’s best if you book in advance from Webtickets, though you could also stand in the queue and buy at the gate on the day. And I’m really pleased to see that the organisers have arranged for some commercial companies to run buses from Cape Town to the Street Party – see the Swartland Revolution website for some details. Please use them if you have no other plan for getting home without a totally sober driver.
Excuse my enthusiasm. The fact that just maybe I’ve already had my share of today’s wine has nothing much to do with the fact, though perhaps with the expression (my delicious, elegant and crisp supper wine had nothing to do with the Swartland at all, by the way: Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer 2009).