The Swartland, that bowl of Bokomo cereal tinged green by sprawling vineyards, is one of the oldest appellations in SA. Producers like Allesverloren date back to the 17th century. Yet for fashionistas, it’s barely a dozen years old.
The Swartland popped onto vinous radar screens back in 2001 when Charles Back opened his Spice Route operation on the farm Amoskuil outside sleepy Malmesbury. He hired a winemaker from the wrong side of the mountain called Eben Sadie who went on to become the most famous SA winemaker overseas thanks to Surfer God good looks, some amazing wines and a spectacular spiel about the Swartland. Chas and his pioneering role was soon forgotten by London luvvies who rewrote history faster than Pol Pot.
Eben was quickly followed by Adi Badenhorst, Chris and Andrea Mullineux and Marc Kent who is arguably SA’s most profitable winemaker, based in fashionable Franschhoek. A November Revolution soon became a fixture and tales of excessive drinking, legends in their own lunchtimes. Bollinger Champagne embraced the event and an annual sommelier competition reaches a dénouement in an appellation where wine waiters resemble rocking horse droppings.
A Swartland Independent grouping of winemakers quickly followed, with strict rules against unauthorized speaking to the Press and making wines from verboten cultivars like Bukettraube. The ones on my own Paardeberg plaas Lemoenfontein were planted before any of the Indies were even born. Which makes banning them, a bit rich.
So to bring the Swartland back down from the Stratosphere, we asked Juan Louw, winemaker at Nuweland, to curate a Secret Swartland Show at the Pendock Gallery @ Taj as part of our Ostrich October indulgence. It opens this evening at 6pm. Juan’s choices:
Babylons Peak Roussane/Viognier
Babylons Peak Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Grenache,
Orangerie Chenin Blanc/Sémillon/Viognier/ Chardonnay
Nuweland Wilna a 7 cultivar blend of Palomino/Bukettraube/Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc/Clarette Blanche and Viognier
Nuweland Haasbek Tinta Barocca
Nuweland Muscat d’Alexandrie
Juan says he “selected these wines because they are fairly unknown and scarce and because Pieter Euvrard (Orangerie), Stephan Basson (Babylon’s Peak) and I were born and bred in the Swartland, the descendants of families that have been living in the Swartland for generations. The Swartland is in our blood.”