Wine-writing, self-reflection and the avant-garde

Let me approach this self-indulgent, self-reflective blog indirectly, from two positions.

youngwritersFirst, I was really pleased to see the recent award to Veritas’s Young Wine Writer of 2013 (more info here). This is how the press release began: “Marthelize Tredoux was last night (25 November) elected as the overall winner of the first ever Young Wine Writers Competition celebrating the might of the pen.”

Well, as I recall it was an award for “new” rather than “young” wine writers, run by now defunct Wine magazine, that I won sometime in the early-mid 1990s, but still I’m not sure if Veritas is right to speak of the “first ever” such award. I was young then…. Well, fairly young. And it was undoubtedly this award that set me on a wine-writing track – first very occasionally, then rather more frequently and more seriously.

When I last week gratefully and surprisedly accepted the DuToitskloof Wine Writer of the Year Award, I actually mentioned this prize of mine way back then, and spoke of the importance of encouraging youngster wine writers rather than us oldsters. I really hope that Mathelize, and the other entrants, will persevere. You’ll never make a lot of money out of it if you do, but you’ll have some wonderful times. (And besides a few miserable bastards who clearly don’t get much joy out of wine, you’ll have some delightful colleagues.)

Second approach to this this self-indulgent, etc blog. Also via someone else’s achievement – or planned achievement.

I heard on the, er, grapevine recently of a planned new wine-label from a most interesting trio: wine-retailer Roland Peens (of winecellar.co.za; Roland is doing excellent service here in Cape Town, no doubt making a lot of money for his bosses and maybe himself, but making fantastic foreign and local wines available to wine-lovers here); Michael Roets (the rather obsessed wine-lover responsible for the Silwervis wines from the Swartland); and Ryan Mostert (winemaker alongside the brilliant Rudiger Gretschel at Reyneke Wines – emerging as one of the great Cape wineries, despite the biodynamics!).

grapes-bucketIt looks like the approach of these three in their joint project is going to be “natural” – let’s see what that means when they make some wines from the grapes they buy in from their cannily-sought vineyards. Watch this space.

I gathered this “naturalness” of approach from some subsequent info from Michael Roets, when I’d let him know that I was aware of some of the plans. He told me (and I hope it’s true) that they’re calling their wine “Project Avant Garde”, and that the inspiration for the name was a 2012 article of mine, in the World of Fine Wine, called “Wine, kitsch and the avant-garde” (available here). The vinous avant-garde being, essentially, winegrowers who are, as I put it there, “close in spirit to painters whose subject matter is paint and color, and the surface of the canvas; poets who write about words and writing, and the moment of poetic creation; and musicians who compose with the purest noise and with silence”.

I’m greatly flattered by this connection, and even more greatly look forward to the wines. This is what Michael Roets wrote to me:

1vineyard“Ryan excites me because he is so passionate and visceral in his approach.  He explained to me what a good vineyard should look like from a 1000m away, then from 50m away, and then in the vineyard as the soil breaks up and falls through your fingers…  I was close to tears.  🙂  That integrity of a real connection with the soil, and the following of a vineyard through the year to harvest before the wine is made, simply, to reflect the place will show in our wines.  It’s not perfection we are after, but something truly soulful.  Roland and I really just want to give Ryan a platform to express himself.  We want to be making art.”

Oh wow. Oh good. Art and not kitsch. Honest, real stuff to drink and be happy with. Impressiveness, show and easy appeal not the issue.

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