I had the pleasure of starting my day today with a glass of Champagne and oysters delivered by neighboring Bizerca Bistro at Dorrance Cellar, to witness the bottling of a historic wine.
I was invited by James Boreland to participate in the bottling by owner Christophe Durand of the 2015 vintage of 1771, a Crouchen Blanc (which used to be referred to as a Cape Riesling) made from grapes harvested from the oldest vine in the Southern Hemisphere, growing at the entrance to the Heritage Hotel in Heritage Square. Tour operator Pam McOnie, Fork owner Ed Saunders, and Spit or Swallow’s Anél Grobler and Jan Laubscher, owners of The Heritage Hotel, and I were the lucky invited guests.
Christophe told us that they had made one flagon of the wine, about 35 liters. No yeast nor acidity was added, just a little sulphur. He filtered and bottled by hand, making a natural wine. Christophe had started the bottling process two hours before we arrived, the wine therefore still being cloudy when we tasted it, but it will settle, he said. The vine is tended to by Christophe, pruning it and harvesting, and he said that it is the oldest grape-bearing vine in the southern Hemisphere, an older vine in Hungary dating back to roughly 1682.
At the Hout Street entrance to Dorrance Cellars there was building work happening, in preparation of the opening of Bouchon Bistro at the beginning of next month, to be co-owned by Christophe and Faisal Khakoo of La Boheme. Christophe will be bringing in wines from France, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Peru, India, and other countries, and will offer three international wines by the glass per day, rotating them daily.
As old as the vine is, is the age of the buildings on Heritage Square, the Robben Island stone used in the building being visible in sections in Dorrance Cellar, and in the other outlets in Heritage Square.
The 1771 wine will be auctioned to benefit a charity, we were told. Dorrance Cellar is well worth a visit in this inner-city wine centre.
Dorrance Cellar, 95 Hout Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-0695. www.vinsdorrance.co.za Twitter:@DorranceWines Monday – Friday 12h00 – 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Tel (021) 433-2100 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here