It’s the first sign of the big things set to happen at the House of Krone – the bubbly kings of the Tulbagh valley, based at the historic Twee Jonge Gezellen estate. As the climax to unfortunately mounting financial problems, TJ was, of course, sold last year by the Krone family to Tim Rand’s dynamic wine company Vinimark.
It will be the Krone Borealis bubbly that should benefit most from Vinimark’s huge investments in vineyards and cellar infrastructure at the farm (where the Krones are still fully involved), but now there’s a new still-wine label signalling new things on the way. Twee Jonge Gezellen has not released any non-bubbly wines for some years now, and in fact the new one is not called by that grand old name, which is (sadly?) relegated to tiny pale print beneath the word “Krone”.
The wine is a modestly-priced blend of the traditional main champagne varieties, pinot noir and chardonnay. What’s so exciting about that? It’s hardly a new thing … Haute Cabrière’s locally pioneering version has been around for quite some time, more recently joined by versions from the likes of Avontuur, Boschendal and De Wetshof. All of these are eager to chip away at Cabrière’s large market, especially in Gauteng, where I’m told the pale-pink stuff sells massively. And massively more than its quality would suggest, perhaps – I have to confess I’m not a Cabrière admirer, for neither still nor sparkling wines.
Two reasons to take note: firstly, any newcomer with the clout and the brilliant distribution of Vinimark behind it is something that should make Cabrière tremble for the security of their cash-cow. Just consider the ever-upward leaps in sales of Wolftrap and Porcupine Ridge, the great-value wines sheltering under the Boekenhoutskloof umbrella held aloft by, above all, Tim Rands and Vinimark. Secondly, consider the other reason why those two brands are doing so well – they over-deliver on quality.
Krone Chardonnay-Pinot Noir 2012 is an excellent wine of its type, from the inviting subtly pink-tinged gold of its colour, through its delicious red-fruit and citrus flavour, its softly-textured but fresh palate. It’s easy but not trivial and I really enjoyed it. [Score: 16/20.] Just R60 (the standard price, I think, for this small genre of wines).
It bears the thumbprint, I suspect, of Vinimark’s brilliant winemaking supremo, Rudiger Gretschel, formerly at Boekenhoutskloof, and now in most of the places where Vinimark has interests, and particularly responsible for the wines of Reyneke. He has been consulting with young Matthew Krone in the cellar at TJ and together they’ve come up with a winner. I confidently predict that more will follow.