Despite a hugely challenging year for the wine industry due to the drought, CapeWine 2018 is an impressive showcase of optimism, friendliness, and proudly South Africaness, running at the Cape Town International Convention Centre until tomorrow. I attended yesterday, with my Parisian friend Aurelié Jullien, and we were both impressed with the magnitude and professionalism of the exhibition, held every three years, and attended by the local and international wine trade.

The exhibition was presented regionally, and within each region winemakers had got together, and each had a tasting desk. The stand designs were impressive, to attract attention. So as we arrived we could not help seeing Botriviera, an unusual name for a wine region which is not at the sea. The Hemel en Aarde Stand was impressive, and it succinctly positioned this Hermanus region as representing excellence in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Aurélie and I started our tasting here, sipping Pinot Noirs from Hamilton Russell (2017, this being the pioneering wine estate in the region, established in 1975) and Creation (2016), with Creation owners JP and Carolyn Martin present.

I have a soft spot for Wellington, being the town in which I grew up, but do not know its wine industry well at all. I saw Johann Fourie of Doolhof briefly. We got to know more about Jacaranda Wine Estate, belonging to Rene Reiser and Birgit Schmiederer, tasting their Chardonnay sparkling wine (24 months on the lees), and one made with 60 year old Old Vine Chenin Blanc (26 months on the lees, with a lovely fresh apple and citrus taste), which had just been degorged and still had a slight yeasty taste to it. We also tasted an Old Vine Chenin Blanc named SALT, a blend of grapes from three blocks of 40, 60, and 80 year old bush vines, with a slight salty taste. The grapes are hand harvested, full bunch pressed, with spontaneous fermentation. They make organic wines but are not certified. Brigitte recognised me as a Facebook friend. They bought the wine estate in 2009, and built their own cellar in 2013. Interesting was seeing a stand for Cape Dutch Vignerons, offering non-alcoholic Sparkling White and Rosé, the alcohol having been removed via reverse osmosis. 

The Swartland wine route is known for its mavericks, and Adi Badenhorst was dressed the part in a green safari suit with a comb in his sock. Winemaker Hanneke works for him now, an ex DeMorgenzon winemaker, and she was pouring Secateurs White and Red.  Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines looked very non-maverick, yet wore shorts too. At Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines we tasted a 2016 Syrah made as a blend of grapes grown in granite, schist, and quartz soil.  Chris Mullineux was pouring their Granite Shiraz.

I finally met Mandy Dewing of Saronsberg, whom I only knew from Facebook. We tasted the Saronsberg Rosé, such a beautiful wine in colour and on the palate.

The surprise was bumping into Inge Hoffmann, now with Zandvliet, which was bought by Clemengold. Inge left Boekenhoutskloof last year, to move to Zandvliet and Clemengold brands. They are very happy with their Tim Atkin scores, announced earlier yesterday, receiving 92 for the Kalkveld Shiraz 2015. She was so excited to see me, and wants to buy a copy of my SwitchBitch Book before she travels back to Johannesburg. We tasted the Zandvliet Shiraz 2015, which was my favorite, probably because I have fond memories of this fine wine brand as a young drinker. Their Hill of Enon scored well too.

We chatted to Peter Ferreira and Lisa Keulder of Graham Beck about their seven MCCs.

We tasted KWV Centenary Blanc de Blanc bubbly (100% Chardonnay), created in a limited quantity to celebrate the 100 years of making wines.  We had a taste of Holden Manz’s new Merlot Reserve with Wayne Buckley-Koch. I was intrigued by the unusual Simonsberg stand designed by Glen Carlou and Noble Hill. The Elgin Stand disappointed, it visually not living up to its pay-off line of  ‘…seriously cool wines’, it being very dark, and we could not find Paul Cluver on it. Breedekloof called its region ‘The Valley of Generosity’. We loved the craziness of the Zoo winemaker collection, with a wig on the stand and the winemakers were presented as movie stars on posters.

The Spier Stand was a large stand-alone one, with an emphasis on greenness. The Franschhoek wine estates did not exhibit together, so I saw none of them other than Holden Manz. 

Deoné MacLean of McGregor Wines was the most bubbly wine estate ambassador at Cape Wine, in her proactive friendliness in attracting us to her stand. Very Spring-like pack design. 

Accolade Wines had a Circus tent type feel to its stand, and a colorful Kumala zebra alongside it. 

As we were making our way out, we bumped into Jean Vincent Ridon, and we did the obligatory Selfie with him.

CapeWine 2018 is a comprehensive exhibition and showcase of our country’s wine industry. I have only presented a taste of what it entails. I encourage wine enthusiasts to visit CapeWine 2018 today or tomorrow. 

CapeWine 2018, 12 – 14 September, organised by WOSA, CTICC, Cape Town. www.wosa.co.za www.capewine2018.com Twitter @ CapeWine2018 Instagram @wosa_za

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein