The opening of the Vondeling tasting room on the Voor-Paardeberg last night was the usual mix of bonhomie, BS and bibulous surprises. The best being the Vondeling 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon introduced by winemaker Emile van der Merwe (below) and second best, the price: R85.
In an elegantly floral Wellington-style, it is made from grapes from the original Bowwood block that Bruce Jack and Julian Johnson used to put the appellation on the map, a decade ago. But where was Bruce? Former winemaker Callie Louw was there, admitting that the Porcelainberg does not work for leeks. The first reported failure of terroir in the Swartland since his Shiraz died of drought after the ancient Pinotage vines were grubbed up on instructions from Franschhoek. Here he is with a friend in a 1920s cricket blazer, a character straight out of PG Wodehouse.
Willi de Waal from Scali, that Pinotage pioneer from the Voor-Paardeberg with a duelling scar, announces he’s making a brand new elegant style of Pinotage with less extract and wood for his German importer. The plan is to have it in the shops by November. Jawohl!
Which throws all kinds of question marks at Vondeling, who grow Pinotage but don’t bottle it. Begging the question: “why?” Foodie Albert Roux (below, with Giulio Bertrand) imports Vondeling wines for his case of restaurants in Scotland. Pinotage and pheasant is a match made in heaven and Vondeling owner Anthony Ward is missing a trick, which is most unlike him.