The beauty, and privilege, of writing about wine is in the richness of connections made and experiences enjoyed, of meeting people at the heart of wine-making and learning more about the art and science of wine, and being able to share those with the friends of A Vine Time.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of the Eastern Cape’s wine-loving public, the warm welcome and keen interest that winemakers find here, and a growing local market for premium wines and events, 2017 brought many fantastic wine experiences right here to our doorstep.
As wine events go, we were spoilt for choice – the Old Mutual Trophy and Veritas awards bringing their annual tastings of a selection of their winning wines; wine merchants Meridian and Vinimark staging shows for the trade and their selected buyers; the mass-appeal fun of the Tops at Spar wine show; and the FNB Eastern Cape wine show with its upmarket feel.
The undoubted event highlight was the home-grown I Love PE wine show which moved to the Tramways and raised the bar for wine shows, with a great mix of boutique wines, craft beer, live music and pop-up versions of top local restaurants.
The various wine shows brought a range of new discoveries within reach – from Perdeberg, known for inexpensive easy-drinking wines, we met their premium Vineyard and Dry Land collections (still great value); Neil Ellis, similarly more well known locally for their entry-level wines, brought their A-game with their top-tier wines; as did Gabrielskloof with their outstanding top-end Landscape Series wines.
What to look forward to in the new year?
The classy, complex whites from the stellar 2017 vintage – some are likely to be even better than they are now after a year or two – and newly-released full-bodied 2015 reds, a vintage considered likely to surpass the blockbuster of 2009 (as top wine merchant Roland Peens says: “huge tannins coated by masses of fruit and balanced by fresh acidity. Buy, buy, buy!”)
Exploring the many interesting things being done with Chenin Blanc (look no further than Beaumont and Mullineux, for starters), and venturing further into the “new” Pinotage – our winemakers finding a lighter, more elegant hand in wines that echo our home-grown grape’s Pinot Noir and Cinsaut roots.
Then there’s the increasing diversity of single varietal wines being made from grapes either usually blended or less well-known, like Grenache, Cinsaut, Mourvedre, Nebbiolo, Marsanne, Roussanne. Here’s to more wine adventures in 2018!