Van William Webb Ellis tot Veritas Dubbelgoud…

“Bling, bling, bling…. van William Webb Ellis tot Veritas dubbelgoud!”

 2010 was die jaar van die groot sokkerkoors…

2011 is die jaar van die groot rugbykoors…

 Ek het my kelderspan leer ken as groot sokkergeesdriftiges. Dit het parstyd 2010 begin: na ‘n woeste week van druiwewaentjies ontvang en verwerk, was die twee of drie ure blaaskans op ‘n Sondagmiddag vir my rustige oomblikke. Nie vir hulle nie. Dit was net genoeg tyd om ‘n ongelukkige opponent kaf te draf op die sokkerveld. Week na week het ek my verwonder aan hulle stamina! Die tyd het aangestap en ‘n paar maande na die pars was ek verras oor hoe die sokkergees my beetgekry het. (‘n uitmergelende eksamenpoging en die sokkergeesdrif in die kelder het baie daarmee te doen gehad). 

Vandag, min of meer ‘n jaar later, sit ek en al die sokkergeesdriftiges in die kelder se raadsaal en kyk Suid-Afrika se laaste wedstryd in poel D. Rugbygeesdriftige of nie, enige werker raak opgewonde oor so ‘n verandering in omgewing, veral as dit op ‘n Vrydag gebeur! (Op hierdie stadium, so 30 minute in die eerste helfte, het die Bokke die oorhand oor die Samoane. Die Samoane se energie is tot dusver meer in vuishoue gekanaliseer as na vlugvoetige lopies).

My gedagtes dwaal en ek wonder wat ‘n buitestaander sou dink oor al hierdie geskarrel, en dit vir ‘n goue koppie…! My gedagtes dwaal verder (net vir ‘n oomblik egter want Habana lê op die naat van sy rug na ‘n harde ontmoeting met ‘n Samoaan) en ek dink aan die opskrifte wat die afgelope tyd wine.co.za se hoofblad vul. Kelder op kelder spog met medaljes wat by een of meer van vele wynskoue verower is. Daar is die Nasionale Jongwynskou, die Terroir Wine Awards, Top 100, Michelangelo, SAL, Tri Nations (vir wyn, nie rugby nie) en so kan die lysie vir lank aanhou. (Die gemoedere op die skerm loop steeds hoog, terwyl ‘n hinkepinkende Habana deur Derek Hougaard vervang word). 

(Ag nee, arme Derek was skaars op die veld toe loop hy hom in ‘n blou muur vas en moet die veld verlaat…Sekondes later spoel die blou truie van Samoa oor die Bokke se doellyn, nes die blou water van die Weskus op die wit sand by Yzerfontein…!!)

Terug by die goue koppies vir wyn: ek kan nie help om te wonder hoe Meneer en Mevrou Verbruiker besluit watter kompetisie se goues hulle wil aanskaf nie. Speel dit enigsins ‘n rol in hul keuse? (shoe, amper is daar nog ‘n blou brander op die strand…gelukkig is die brander gebreek met ‘n strafskop vir die Bokke). In Julie elke jaar word die land se jongwyne beoordeel. Dit is die oudste wynskou in Suid-Afrika. Hierdie skou se ekwivalent tot die William Webb Ellis is die Generaal Jan Smuts Trofee. Die wyne wat meeding om hierdie trofee is almal van die jongste oes en hoef nie ‘n reeds gebottelde wyn te wees nie. (met min tyd oor probeer die bokke hard om ‘n 8 punt voorsprong bietjie verder te rek).

Wat beteken dit egter vir die verbruiker om te weet dat kelder so en so drie tenke het wat elk ‘n goue medalje verower het? Hoe weet hy of sy wanneer daardie goue wyn in die bottel is? Hulle sal dalk nooit weet nie. Dit is dan ook die rede dat landgoedere en sommige kelders wat meeste van hul wyn in gebottelde formaat verkoop, nie aan hierdie kompetisie deelneem nie.

Daar is egter ‘n paar ander redes vir deelname aan die Jonwynskou: Produsente kelders, soos Klawer, maak ‘n groot volume wyn wat nooit onder Klawer se handelsmerk gebottel gaan word nie. Die Jongwynskou bied vir sulke kelders ‘n geleentheid om ‘n idee van die standaard van hul wyn te kry voordat die wyn verskuif word na die koper. Die verskillende panele het ook die kans om te kyk hoe die oesjaar ‘n spesifieke kultivar of styl behandel het. Die Cabernet klas word dalk in ‘n sekere jaar gekenmerk deur goeie lengte en vrugintensiteit of die Sauvignon Blanc-wyne is besonder kompleks in ‘n ander oesjaar. Alles inligting wat ‘n rol in die mark kan speel.

Alles goed en wel, maar wat van die wyne wat dan nou nie ‘n medalje kry nie? Is dit noodwending ‘n minderwaardige voggie? Ek is dalk nie die regte een om hierop te antwoord nie. Die feit dat ek wyn maak veroorsaak dat ek nie heeltemal objektief kan wees nie, maar miskien kan dit wat ek al ervaar het iemand help om hul eie opinie hieroor te vorm: Dit is so dat sommige wyne skynbaar op elke kompetisie met ‘n paar medaljes wegstap. Later is daar nie meer genoeg plek vir die etiket en al die goue plakkers op die bottel nie! Hierdie wyne is gewoonlik wyne wat baie intense karakters het sodat hulle feitlik tussen alle wyne uitstaan. Dit is egter nie altyd die beste eienskap as mens ‘n wyn soek wat subtiele kosgeure moet komplementeer nie. Wyne wat meer subtiel is, en hier bedoel ek nie die subtiel wat ‘n versagtende beskrywing vir karakterloos is nie, word soms gemis onder skoutoestande. Oor hierdie stelling sal baie skou-organiseerders met my verskil.

(die wedstryd is amper verby so ek moet my storie begin afsluit…) My gevoel is dat daardie goue medalje, hetsy vir ‘n wyn of ‘n rugbyspan, bewys dat die spesifieke wyn of span onder sekere omstandighede die beste was, of so goed was dat dit vir ‘n goue medalje gekwalifiseer het. 

Wat van die res dan? Moet ons die bottels uitgooi en die verloorspanne verban van enige verdere wedstryde? Nee, ek dink daar is baie meer faktore wat ‘n rol speel in ‘n span of wyn se sukses al dan nie. Bafana Bafana het nie die sokker wêreldbeker gewen nie, maar hulle is dalk ‘n paar tree nader aan die uiteindelike oorwinning. Net so is dit baie moontlik dat ‘n silwermedaljewyn eerste klas gaan smaak op die strand saam met ‘n stukkie gebraaide Weskus snoek op ‘n warm somersdag!  

(Die eindfluitjie blaas met die Bokke wat oorwin met 13 punte teenoor 5 oor Samoa. William Webb Ellis hier kom ons..!)

 Nie heeltemal wynskou nie, maar iets soortgelyks!

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Hoekom so ‘n gegons oor Grenache?

Die ding met Grenache….

Diegene wat al ‘n bottel Cecilia gesien en/of geproe het sal weet dat dit ‘n versnit van Shiraz, Mourvèdre en Malbec is. Shiraz en Mourvèdre is belangrike boustene van die versnitte van die suide van Frankryk, terwyl Malbec weer deel uitmaak van die rooiwynversnitte van Bordeaux. Kyk mens dieper na die Rhone-versnitte kom jy gou agter dat daar ‘n ander kultivar is wat gereeld genoem word, naamlik Grenache. In meeste van die streek se distrikte is Grenache ‘n belangriker bestanddeel van die versnit as Mourvèdre.

Grenache is nie net ‘n belangrike kultivar in Frankryk nie. Die Spanjaarde werk al vir honderde jare met die kultivar. Die wyne van veral Rioja en die al hoe meer gewilder Priorat gee ‘n mens ‘n goeie idee van die goeie eienskappe van die kultivar.

Die versnitonderwerp neem ons ook verder oos na Australië. Hier is Grenache ‘n belangrike bousteen van die sogenaamde “GSM”-versnitte (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre).

Praat mens oor die wingerd en wynmaakproses van Grenache, is daar ‘n paar dinge om in gedagte te hou: Die wyne wat Grenache beroemd gemaak het, kom van ou bosstok wingerde af wat baie min druiwe per stok dra. ‘n “Bosstok” is ‘n wingerdstok wat laag op die grond groei sonder die hulp van pale en drade. Dit lyk my dieselfde geld vir Grenache as vir mense: met die grysheid kom wysheid….: Hoe ouer Grenache stokke raak, hoe beter raak die natuurlike verhouding tussen die hoeveelheid druiwe en die blare en lote wat hierdie druiwe “versorg” – hoe beter die kwaliteit dus. Jong Grenache stokke dra baie druiwe en die korrels is groot. Dit is gewoonlik ‘n minder ideale situasie, want om ‘n wyn met karakter te maak, moet daar ‘n beperkte hoeveelheid sap in verhouding tot die doppe wees. As daar te veel sap is waarin die geur- en kleurverbindings moet oplos, is die gevolg gewoonlik ‘n dun wyn.

Grenache is ook baie vatbaar vir donsskimmel. Donsskimmel is ‘n swam wat op die oppervlak van die blaar groei en die blaar se vermoë om te fotosinteer belemmer. Ek het ‘n bietjie gesels met een van Suid-Afrika se vooraanstaande wynmakers en hy het spottenderwys gesê, “As jy wil seker maak of daar donsskimmel in jou wingerd is, stap eers deur die Grenache”.

Hoe smaak wyne wat van Grenache gemaak is? Daar is ‘n wye verskeidenheid geure en smake. In die Spaanse streek, Priorat, is die wyn tradisioneel donker en redelik swaar. Hulle benodig ‘n paar jaar om te verouder en meer toeganklik te raak. Dit is egter aan die verander aangesien die wyne deesdae meer toegankliker is maar steeds goed kan verouder.

Dit is bietjie moeiliker om ‘n spesifieke karakter te verbind met Grenache in Frankryk, aangesien die kultivar meesal saam met ander kultivars versny word. Oor die algemeen word hierdie versnitte gekenmerk deur rooivruggeure asook speserye. Omdat die klimaat sonnig is, is die wyne redelik sag en vrugtig met matige hoeveelhede tannien.

Die rosé wyne wat van Grenache gemaak word, bring my by die eerste punt van my Grenache-storie: Die suide van Frankryk is nie net bekend vir rooiwyne van Grenache nie maar ook vir rosé-wyne. Die woord “rosé” verwys na rooidruiwe wat soos witdruiwe verwerk is om ‘n pienkkleurige wyn te maak. Dit kan egter ook, onder sekere omstandighede, verwys na rooiwyn wat met witwyn versny is om dieselfde resultaat te kry. Om verwarring te voorkom, noem sommige kelders hul rosés “Blanc de Noir”, wat letterlik vertaal sou kon word in “wit van swart (rooi)”.

Een so ‘n voorbeeld is Klawer se Grenache Blanc de Noir.

Klawer het ‘n paar jaar gelede hul eerste Grenache Blanc de Noir gebottel. Die wingerd moes egter uitgehaal word en dit het ‘n rukkie geneem voordat daar weer Grenache druiwe beskikbaar was om die wyn van te maak. Die 2011 Birdfield Grenache Blanc de Noir is eersdaags weer beskikbaar en ek het by Roelof van Schalkwyk, die wynmaker, ‘n draai gemaak om so bietjie meer uit te vind oor die wyn. 

(Na vele pogings om ‘n geredigeerde weergawe van die onderhoud te laai, het ek nou moed opgegee. Met my geluk sal ek nie eers dit regkry om ‘n videogreep, waarin die beeld en klank gesinchroniseer is, gelaai kry teen die tyd dat die volgende oes gereed is nie! Daarom dan ‘n geskrewe weergawe van ons geselsie…)

Die druiwe word na rotortenke afgemaal en sodra die tenk vol is, word die vry sap afgetrek en verder soos witwyn behandel. Roelof vertel dat “granaat” en “pienk spookasem” van die karakters is wat gereeld genoem word wanneer mense hierdie Blanc de Noir proe. Op my vraag oor wat die beste geleentheid is om ‘n glasie te geniet, was sy antwoord dat dit ‘n wenner is saam met ‘n lekker visgereg.

Groetnis!

Cerina van Niekerk

Wynmaker van Cecilia en

Klawer Wynkelder se Trawal perseel

N.S: Die tweede rede vir my ondersoek na Grenache is die vraag of Grenache ‘n positiewe bydrae kan maak tot Cecilia se versnit? Meer hieroor op ‘n ander dag…

 

 

 

Klawer’s African Ruby Gem

The whole of the country seems to be in the thick of winter and the Olifants River did not escape either. I suspect it is this drop in temperature that has me thinking of warmer times. One such time was just last month at the Good Food and Wine Show in the CTICC. (Some perspective for those of you who have not had the time to read Cecilia‘s earlier posts: Klawer is providing a home for Cecilia, while I make wine at their Trawal premises.)

 For four days, from 26 to 29 May, the who’s who of the culinary world, and to a lesser extent the wine world, invaded Cape Town’s International Convention Centre. Visitors could warm themselves with anything from a spicy schwarma to a sweet jerepigo.

My turn to help Blom, our sales representative, came on the Saturday of the show. We continually poured tasting sips from the time that I arrived around 12 o’clock until I left at 6 pm.

Prior to the show I was involved in one or two debates on whether to participate in shows like these or not. Luckily the wine industry consists of so many different players, that even if some do not see a benefit in attending a specific event, there will be many others who will experience the opposite to be true for their business.  Klawer witnessed an increase in revenue of approximately 20% on last year’s show. If one adds to this that there was no price increase on the wines, I would think it safe to say that the show has been a positive event for the cellar.

Some of the wines that were responsible for this success were the following:

Birdfield Michelle Rose sparkling was a firm favourite despite rumours that the rosé boom of recent years may be a thing of the past.

The lovers of serious red wines were happy to befriend Birdfield Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, while drinkers looking for a fruit driven, red needed to look no further than Birdfield Shiraz/Merlot 2009.

Birdfield Sauvignon Blanc remains a frequent choice on the white side, with the Viognier satisfying customers looking for something different.

The show stopper, however, were the African Ruby Vermouth. “Ver – what?” I hear you ask. Don’t worry, I am ashamed to admit that I did not know much about Vermouth before my arrival at Klawer 18 months ago. A quick visit to good old Google reveals that it is a fortified wine flavoured with al kinds of ingredients and has been around since the late 1800’s.

Klawer’s African Ruby Vermouth, that had people returning to the stand time and time again, consists of fortified Red Muscadel infused with Rooibos Tea and Buchu. It has become a sure favourite amongst the public, judging by the constant stream of requests during the course of the afternoon. The subtle hints of Rooibos, accompanied by typical muscat aromas and delivered with a firm, sweet-alcohol finish, proved a good way to end this gastronomic excursion.

I left the scene to attend my dad’s birthday party, just as a new African Ruby enthusiast was saying to our General Manager: “You know, this is the best discovery of the day!”

All this talk makes me think it is time to put the African Ruby’s winter warming capabilities to the test on this ice cold June eve…!

Watch the video for a quick look at how Blom engaged with a couple of customers at a very busy CTICC.

 

“Kaptein”!

 Kurt Darren and the dancing parrot

 (Sien onder vir die Afrikaanse weergawe)

 A while ago I accompanied a group of children on a visit to Butterfly World just outside Paarl. The visit was one of the activities arranged by the workers of a day care centre in Fairyland, an informal settlement between Paarl and Wellington. The aim of the centre was to provide a safe place for these children, who would probably otherwise spend their time on the streets of Fairyland and the surrounding neighbourhoods. (I am always curious to see how organisations and individuals in different towns of South Africa, address the problems of street children or children without healthy families. This curiosity led to me joining this group of youngsters on their first visit to Butterfly World.)

After arriving there, they had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the habits of spiders, reptiles and butterflies as well as to meet a couple of special parrots. As the group assembled in front of the cage with parrots, the tourguide told them that Monty, the sulphur-crested cockatoo, likes dancing to Kurt Darren’s “Kaptein”. They did not need much more encouragement and immediately started singing. Unfortunately it did not have the desired effect on Monty. He just stared at them, rather motionless. Whether he was not in the mood, or whether they were not singing “Kaptein” quite like Kurt, I do not know. However, as they started singing “Kyk hoe dat die voëltjies vlieg” in a second attempt to generate some action, the moves appeared from an unexpected source… Whatch the video to see what happened! 

(I am technologically retarded, hence the unedited version of the video…)

 

Kaptein” sing die kinders vir die kaketoe! 

In die meeste dorpe en stede in ons land is daar projekte en organisasies wat poog om minderbevoorregte kinders te help en te ondersteun. Ek is altyd geinteresseerd in wat hulle doen en hoe hulle te werk gaan, en probeer om meer uit te vind waar ek kan. So het dit gebeur dat ek ‘n rukkie gelede saam met ‘n groepie kinders Butterfly World, net buite die Paarl, besoek het. Die kinders was lede van ‘n nasorg sentrum wat begin is om kinders uit die informele woonbuurt, Fairyland te versorg. Die volwassenes wat werksaam was by die nasorg het die kinders bedags besig gehou met stimulerende aktiwiteite. Een so ‘n aktiwiteit was die uitstappie na Butterfly World. Hier kon hulle nader kennis maak met baie meer as net skoenlappers: daar was spinnekoppe, slange, ander reptiele en ‘n paar baie interessante papegaaie. Die papegaaie was die laaste besoekpunt. By die hok aangekom, het die toergids hulle vertel dat Monty, die kaketoe, baie lief is vir dans. Die kleinspan het nie baie aansporing nodig gehad nie, en soos een man “Kaptein, span die seile” begin sing. Die kaketoe het egter net koponderstebo na die spannetjie gekyk… Of hulle net nie na sy smaak gesing het, en of hy net nie die dag lus was vir dans nie, weet ek nie. Wat ek wel weet, is dat toe die klompie lostrek met “Kyk hoe dat die voeltjies vlieg” was daar heelwat aksie, al het dit uit ‘n onverwagse oord gekom! Kyk gerus wat gebeur het…

(My tegnologiese gestremdheid is die rede vir die ongeredigeerde weergawe van die video…)

From Mons Mensa to Matzikamma – breaking the silence…

The Matzikamma Mountain

The Matzikamma Mountain

Mons Mensa - Latin for Table Mountain
Mons Mensa – Latin for Table Mountain

 

Most wineries today put a lot of effort into their social media campaigns. Like them, I also wanted to explore the possibilities of social media. Not having much experience on the subject, apart from reading a number of blogs, I thought it good to attend a blogging workshop. I was inspired to get going after an afternoon of blogging tips and, amongst other things, some advice from master wine blogger Michael Back from Backsberg. A week or so later I uploaded the video explaining the idea behind Cecilia. 

Some of the advice we were given that afternoon was that a good blog was honest as well as regular. Honest I have been, but not regular. The question is now: is it too late or not to carry on “blogging”? 

Let me try to salvage the situation by mentioning the events that caused the post drought:

I mentioned the Master of Wine course in a previous post. At the time of starting Cecilia‘s blog, it was not long before I was suppose to attend a MW seminar in Australia. Just prior to leaving for Oz however, there was a life changing event: My time at Seidelberg had come to an end. I had accepted a wine making position at Klawer’s Trawal Winery in the Olifant’s River. “Why such a move?”, you might wonder. The answer is something other than wine, love…

Therefore, after returning from Oz, there was a week or so to end off what seem to have been the first chapter of my time spent as a wine maker. Where we handled 800 tons of predominantly red varietals in Seidelberg’s cellar, I would now be responsible for 8000 tons of white grapes. A daunting prospect.

Soon I was in the thick of things, desperately trying to make the best of a very challenging situation. Thankfully, there came a time when all the grapes had to be picked and I could regroup. From that moment though, I had to get my nose stuck in the books, the MW exam being less than three months away at that point in time.

Cecilia was another matter. Klawer was very open to the project, thus becoming Cecilia’s new home. Since the first vintage was made from grapes from Seidelberg’s vineyards, the question was now where to find grapes for the next vintages. A small amount of Shiraz from the South Coast, as well as some Mourvèdre from Wellington, were eventually vinified for the 2010 vintage. This new arrangement held the promise of new possibilities, but also some serious challenges. In many ways it was a new beginning.  

The MW exam took place in London during the first week of June and although I came close to passing the theory, I failed the exam. It was disappointing but not unexpected.

Back at home it was time to organize another big event: a wedding. I married the man I followed to the Olifant’s River in December last year. A happy ending to a very eventful year! 

All of the above, as well as a second vintage (2011) at Trawal, brings us more or less up to where we are today…

Cecilia in Concert with the Blondes

Wine, Woman and song… 

What does Andrew Lloyd Webber, two blonds, one brunet and a bottle of wine have in common…? If you’ve guessed it, you’re good. If you don’t have a clue, don’t worry, I can’t wait to tell you: the next Cecilia concert!

In the beginning of this endeavour I said I would like to launch each vintage with a music concert. I just thought it would be nice, but I had absolutely no idea who the musicians for later concerts would be. Subsequently I’ve also realized that it’s not that simple organizing a concert without knowing when you will be ready with the next vintage. To call the wine industry volatile is an understatement. Not many new wine businesses can afford to fix capital in vast numbers of bottles lying somewhere in a cellar, until the time is right to release it. With the large quantities of wine available at cut throat prices it is difficult to have the return on the investment necessary to keep these bottles under ideal conditions, regardless of how it might benefit the wine. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, I am just a realistic newcomer to the world of new wine businesses. My focus the past couple of months has very much been to figure out the “what’ where and when” of the wine side of things, with very little time left to worry about the next concerts.

You can therefore imagine my sheer happiness when Zorada Temmingh, one of the two blonds mentioned above, suggested collaborating with me for the next Cecilia launch! Temmingh and Elna van der Merwe are two pianists from Stellenbosch, who arranged themes from the Beatles for two pianos during their student days for fun.  Today, 25 years later, they are using it as a concept to mesmerize audiences with their brilliant and vibrant improvisations of music from different composers.

Their repertoire grew from the Beatles to include Mozart, Abba and Bach. The latest addition was premiered during the last weekend of September 2009 at the annual Cultivaria festival in Paarl. The composers in the spotlight were Verdi and Andrew L Webber.

In October last year I spent two days in Paris concluding a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bordeaux. The highlight of the weekend was going to the Opera de Bastille for a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto. It was a magical experience. The only small problem was that the subtitles were in French and not in English as I am used to in South Africa! It did not matter much though, the music – voices and orchestra – were brilliant.

Last week, as I sat in the audience listening to the familiar themes from Rigoletto  played by The Blondes, I was reminded of the universal language of music. It speaks with or without words… (I realize an interesting coincidence as I am writing: There I was in Paris listening to the music of Rigoletto in the opera house where, according to legend, Webber’s phantom roamed, and here, one year later I was hearing the music of the same two composers being performed together in my home town!)

The music for the next concert being taken care of, I still have another problem: I am a brunet, and Zorada and Elna are both blonds…! Watch this space if you want to find out how we solve the problem…

A visual perspective on Cecilia