Bloemendal Suider Terras 2014 wooded Sauvignon Blanc

The Headlines: //
“More complex than the American electoral system.
Vanguard aromas carry fresh grass and green pepper up front, followed by slow-attack asparagus, and an intriguing somewhat darker, nigh-on clovesy spice note at the back. Lovely evolution. Definitely not easy drinking, but marvelous intellectual value. 
Oaked for 8 months. 50% new oak barrels.”

Quality: 16/20//
Price: R250 (as of November 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: High//
Occasion: A Summer gathering of the ponce club. On the terrace//
Key words: oak, sensory evolution, trending//
Vivino rating //

 To fill those awkward silences…

It’s not mine, Guv’nor.

I love a bit of wood in my Chardonnay. So one can imagine my dismay when I got totally busted on my passé penchant by an undercover member of the wine fashion police, writing me a ticket for enjoying something as “pas cool” as a wooded chard. Now in hindsight, I should have mustered my finest Gandalf impression and said, “Madam, if you’re drinking wine to be on trend, then I’m afraid you have bigger problems than a few splinters in your Chablis.”
Instead, all I could muster was a weird sort-of half curtsy, followed by an awkward swallow and something about it not being mine. “oh, I’m just holding it for a friend.”

“a stellar wooded chardonnay should be assessed on its quality alone, rather than by some sort of acceptability scale, modified from an early draft of the Mean Girls script”

 Be cool. Sport wood.

Now, while the notion that quality can go out of style is sheer lunacy (and so a stellar wooded chardonnay should be assessed on its quality alone, rather than by some sort of acceptability scale, modified from an early draft of the Mean Girls script) there are those occasions where one doesn’t want to have to explain oneself.

Take James Dean, for instance. He’s dead, and so finds it almost impossible to explain himself. But he still needs to be cool, right? So what does he do? Well, he delivers a sure thing. He goes for that gray-scale image of him leaning against something. In his black t-shirt, smouldering. I mean he’s smouldering. Not his shirt. But whatever. The point is, it’s a sure thing. No one needs to have that explained to them. It just is.

So what if you have this crazy lust for lumber in your wine, but still need to serve “a sure thing”? Wooded Sauvignon Blanc. That’s what.

Hold the rocks

Sauvignon Blanc’s generally light body and (preferably) crisp, zingy acidity makes it the ideal summer quaffer. And hey, there’s no judgment here, so why not toss a few blocks of ice in there, too. And, hell, maybe a straw, if times are tough.
But when it comes to serving a wooded Sauvignon blanc, you may want to try a more restrained approach.
The touch of oak in these wines bulks up the mouthfeel somewhat, delivering a heavier presence on the palate. Also, it will almost certainly add more complexity than a schoolbus of adolescent netballers, so don’t be afraid to sit with it for a little while. Give it a chance to tell you a story.
A good rendition on this theme should be able to deliver (1) clearly articulated fruit (depending on ripeness levels these could range from lemons right through to sweet [each), (2) savoury and herbal complications (grass, nettles, asparagus, peppers), and of course (3) the oak influence, which can manifest as coconut, vanilla, dairy products, or sweet spice.

*If you’re looking to taste your wine a little more actively, an interesting exercise is to try and break down the notes that you’re tasting into those three categories.

Even The Pundits say so.

If after all this, you’re still feeling insecure, or you’re simply a chronic people pleaser, you can rest assured that at least three of the 2016 FNB Top Ten Sauvignon Blancs were wooded (a significant portion, given that they are far rarer than their unwooded counterparts), and so if the big wigs say so, then who are your dinner guests to argue.
The FNB woody winners were:
1. Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2015
2. Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Sauvignon Blanc 2013
3. Jordan The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Another goodie worth finding is the Steenberg Rattlesnake. You shouldn’t pay more than R110 per bottle (November 2016)


“Platter’s 2017 5-star” meets “#Feesmustfall”

The Platters Wine Guide held their 2017 Wine Guide Launch last night, which is simultaneously very exciting, and also kind of daunting. Because all of a sudden there are just short of 100 wines of various varieties that have been declared #MustHave #BucketList, #OMG #NomNomNom.

To make matters worse, you will almost certainly not be able to afford a whole bunch of the wines on this list…
(Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2014 R1,050.00
David & Nadia Hoe Steen Chenin Blanc R520.00;
Sadie Family Wines Palladius R575.00;
Porseleinberg Syrah 2014 R500.00;
Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir R400.00;
Alheit Radio Lazarus R520.00;
AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen R360.00;
Reynecke Reserve Red R400.00)
…which always leaves one wondering whether or not the very fact that you won’t be buying these wines is a sure sign that these wines are the only ones that really hold THE TRUTH ABOUT WINE in the sort of X-Files/DaVinci Code/Dallai Llama sense of the word.

In this regard there is both good news and bad news…
The bad news is that some of the wines mentioned above – those wines in the “I guess I’ll never know” price bracket – really are life-changing/paradigm-shifting/soul-transforming. So, I don’t know, sell a kidney or something.

But the good news is that, if you have read this article on how the Platter’s panel chooses their 5-star wines, you will know that it is all done completely blind, which means that price and reputation have nothing to do with final scoring.

So, because I’m a pal, I have gone and found some of the cheapest wines on the list so that you can get a wine education at the low price of a #feesmustfall-style wine diploma:

Platters 5-star #FeesMustFall List:

  1. Mount Abora Koggelbos Chenin Blanc 2014: +- R105.00
  2. Spice Route Grenache 2014: +- R120.00
  3. Bartinney Chardonnay 2015: +- R140.00
  4. Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2015: +- R150.00
  5. Stellenrust Barrel-fermented Chenin: +- R150.00
  6. Carl Everson Opstal Chenin Blacn: +- R165.00
  7. Vondeling Babiana 2015 White Blend: +- R165.00
  8. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Chenin: +- R170.00
  9. Diemersdal 8 Rows 2016 Sauvignon Blanc: +- R185.00
  10. Olifantsberg Silhouette Red Blend 2014: +- R190.00
  11. Bosman Family Twyfeling Cinsault 2015: +- R200.00
  12. Thorne & Daughters’ Rocking Horse White Blend: +- R220.00
  13. Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2015: +-R220.00
  14. Iona Solace Syrah: +- R240.00
  15. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: +- R270.00


Then again, if you’re more like Usher, and haven’t looked at a pricetag in over a decade, because price tags are for accountants, not visionaries, then have a gander at the complete list, and hit the bottle store with that Platinum Card. Cheers!

The Headline awards:

White Wine of the Year: Stellenrust 51 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2015

Red Wine of the Year: The Winery of Good Hope Radford Dale Black Rock 2014

Dessert Wine of the Year: Mullineux & Leeu Straw Wine 2015

Winery of the Year: Nederburg Wines


The rest of the 5-Star line-up for 2017:

Cabernet Franc

  1. Warwick 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon

  1. Delaire Graff Laurence Graff Reserve 2013
  2. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2012
  3. Nederburg Private Bin R163 2013
  4. Tokara Reserve 2013


  1. Bosman Family Twyfeling 2015
  2. Kaapzicht Skuinsberg 2015

Grenache Noir

  1. Spice Route 2014
  2. Stellenbosch Vineyards Credo Limited Release 2015


  1. Laibach Claypot 2014
  2. Shannon Mount Bullet 2013


  1. Beeslaar 2014
  2. Flagstone Time Manner Place 2014

Pinot Noir

  1. Hamilton Russell 2015
  2. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards CWG Auction Reserve Seadragon 2015
  3. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2015


  1. Fable Syrah 2014
  2. Iona Solace Syrah 2014
  3. Keermont Topside Syrah 2014
  4. La Motte Pierneef Syrah-Viognier 2014
  5. Porseleinberg 2014
  6. Reyneke Reserve Red 2014
  7. Richard Kershaw Clonal Selection Elgin Syrah 2014
  8. Ronnie B Sons of Sugarland Syrah 2015
  9. Trizanne Reserve Syrah 2015

Red blends

  1. Artisanal Boutique Winery JJ Handmade Eight Pillars 2013
  2. Chamonix Troika 2014
  3. Groot Constantia Gouverneurs Reserve 2013
  4. Mvemve Raats MR de Compostella 2014
  5. Nederburg Heritage Heroes The Brew Master 2014
  6. Olifantsberg Silhouette 2014


  1. Bartinney 2015
  2. Chamonix 2015
  3. Chamonix Reserve 2015
  4. Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve 2015
  5. DeMorgenzon Reserve 2015
  6. Groot Constantia 2015
  7. Hamilton Russell 2015
  8. Haskell Anvil 2015
  9. Iona 2015
  10. Jordan Barrel Fermented 2015
  11. Jordan CWG Auction Reserve 2015
  12. La Vierge Apogée 2015
  13. Meerlust 2015
  14. Môreson Mercator Premium 2014
  15. Newton Johnson Family Vineyards 2015
  16. Restless River Ava Marie 2014
  17. Richard Kershaw Deconstructed Lake District Bokkeveld Shales CY95 2015

Chenin Blanc

  1. AA Badenhorst Dassiekop Steen 2015
  2. Alheit Radio Lazarus 2015
  3. Beaumont Hope Marguerite 2015
  4. Bellingham Bernard Series Old Vine 2015
  5. Botanica Mary Delany 2015
  6. David & Nadia 2015
  7. David & Nadia Hoë-Steen 2015
  8. Edgebaston Camino Africa David Finlayson 2015
  9. Fram 2015
  10. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
  11. Mount Abora Koggelbos 2014
  12. Opstal Carl Everson 2015
  13. Ronnie B Patatsfontein Steen 2015
  14. Sadie Family Skurfberg 2015
  15. Spioenkop 1900 2015

Sauvignon Blanc

  1. Bloemendal Suider Terras 2015
  2. Diemersdal 8 Rows 2016
  3. Diemersdal MM Louw 2015
  4. Fleur du Cap Unfiltered 2015
  5. Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 5 Kat Met Die Houtbeen 2014
  6. Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2015
  7. Mulderbosch 1000 Miles 2015
  8. Nederburg Private Bin D234 2015
  9. Skaap 44 2015


  1. Botanica Mary Delany 2015
  2. Opstal The Barber 2015
  3. Sadie Family Kokerboom 2015
  4. Shannon 2015

White Blends

  1. Alheit Hemelrand Vine Garden 2015
  2. Beaumont ‘New Baby’ 2015
  3. David & Nadia Aristargos 2015
  4. GlenWood Vigneron’s Selection Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  5. Sadie Family Palladius 2014
  6. Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse 2015
  7. Tokara Director’s Reserve 2015
  8. Vondeling Babiana 2015

Dessert Wine, Unfortified

  1. Delheim Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2015
  2. Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn Vin de Paille 2015
  3. Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Selection Noble Late Harvest 2015
  4. Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet 2012
  5. Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2015
  6. Perdeberg Speciality Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2014
  7. Stellar Heaven on Earth Natural Sweet NV


  1. Boplaas Potstill Reserve 12 Years

For the slow and steady:

While I am in now way affiliated with Platter’s Wine Guide (by Diner’s Club, in case you were wondering) I can completely see the merit in subscribing to the iOS/Android app and having access to this information on your phone. Simply because, as seems to be a theme with this blog, much of the value in a wine lies in not only what it tastes like, but who made it, the ethos behind it, and the region from which it hails. Platter’s mobile app offers all this in a manner that is usually not annoying or riddled with bugs.

So if you want to know where you can stick Platter’s 2017 Guide, the answer is…on your mobile. Very funny. Yes, I am aware.


AA Badenhorst Family Wines Red Blend 2014

The Headlines: //
Some estates harvest in strict accordance with the correct physiological ripeness. Maverick winemaker Adi Badenhorst prefers “psychological ripeness”; when the timing “just feels right”.
The result is a fresh, elegant Shiraz-fronted red blend with herbal and spice aromatics, fine grapeskin tannins, and exquisitely pronounced laser-like red fruit acidity. At its core, the wine holds juicy red cherries, currants, and red plum fruit, finished off with delicate hints of pepper & cloves. An exquisite example of just how elegant and refined a shiraz blend can be.

Quality: 17/20//
Price: R280 (as of October 2016) //
Value: 2/5 //
Ponce factor: Through the roof//
Occasion: Any time you’re on a date with a vegan//
Key words:  Swartland revolution, minimal intervention //
Vivino rating //

 To fill those awkward silences…

The man, the mystery, the boerewors

Adi Badenhorst is a visual mélange of Old Testament Abrahamic beardy majesty and a skater from Tableview. But one very soon realizes that his conflicting visual cues are simply a premonition of the multiple contradictions that this winemaking legend embodies. When speaking publically, he mixes his penchant for profanity with regular religious references (he makes wine that are like sermons – they “comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable”) and, most noticeably, he is relentlessly self-effacing, while clearly carrying the sort of charisma that has his audiences hanging on his every word. When asked what his wines pair well with, he replies, “Shit, I don’t know. But they taste bloody lekker with boerewors.”
It’s really hard not to like him.

Why Vegans love Adi:

Vegans are, by and large, pretty down on the human race. Humans are all idiots who messed up the planet. Humans drink milk, even though they are most certainly not baby cows. And humans think they’re clever but are almost always doing something that will inevitably lead to their extinction.

So… the big question is:

How does a man, who wakes up at 5am to eat boerewors with fellow Swartland legend Eben Sadie, make wines that are perfectly suited to impress a disdainful vegan? Well, quite simply, by embodying all of those elements into a wine that still manages to pair well with boerewors (just because she’s vegan, doesn’t mean you have to be):

  1. Adi acknowledges that people can be dumb:
    Adi harvests his grapes according to “psychological ripeness”. Instead of running around with a brix meter measuring sugar levels of various grape varieties, he prefers to simply pick a day when it “feels right” and then harvest his grapes. Why? Because the more that humans try fiddle around with a harvest, the greater the chances that they’ll mess it all up. As Porseleinberg’s Callie Louw likes to remind us, “your wine is just a measurement of how well you farmed”. So farm well, and then relax about what comes afterwards.
  2. Irrigation should not be a thing in the Swartland:
    Adi farms with utmost respect for his environment. Not only does he select grape varieties that grow well in the hot dry Swartland (his view is that varieties of Portuguese origin work wonderfully, by and large), but he also refuses to irrigate his vineyards. Why? Because water is scarce, and irrigating your grapes shows a distinct lack of respect for both water as a natural resource, and for certain grapes’ ability to thrive against the odds.
  3. There is always hope for humanity:
    In his own words, Adi was fired from making wine for the iconic Rustenburg Wine Estate for a combination of offenses that included using foul language and making a particularly dodgy rosé. But had that never happened, he wouldn’t have found the magical piece of Swartland land that is Kalmoesfontein – the home of all AA Badenhorst family wines.

So however disdainful one may be of the human race, one has to believe in second chances, and Kalmoesfontein, (and the wines that have brought Adi international acclaim and rave reviews from half of the world’s leading wine critics) is a tangible piece of evidence to support this. While vegans may exhibit a tough exterior, they really just hanker after genuine hope for the future of the planet, and Adi’s wines are a delightful combination of sensory bliss and ideological uncle banana which may or may not set you in good stead for a glorious evening of soul connection with any vegan worth his or her biodynamic salt.