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A trip to South Africa

My trip started with a fabulous visit to our exciting new supplier Lemberg, famous amongst many other things for having the mother block of the – hitherto unknown to me – Hárslevelü. Check out these wines before they get snapped up, especially The Lady.

The following day, I had a great tasting at DeMorgenzon with Carl van der Merwe, winemaker, and Hanneke Botha, assistant winemaker. The range tasting had almost finished when Carl pointed skyward asking if we could hear a noise. Looking up, we saw two pairs of majestic fish eagles carousing right above our heads. Truly beautiful and an unexpected treat. Carl also told us of an unexpected weekend visitor to the winery…. a Cape cobra!

I found Glenelly in some degree of excitement and turmoil with its brand new restaurant and terrace bar opening the very next day. Luke (O’Cuinneagain, winemaker) was his usual unflappable self and the wines shone, as did the blazing, 35° sun.

Next was a dash back to the Bottelary Hills of Stellenbosch to meet and taste with the emerging talent that is Danie Steytler Jr of Kaapzicht. I was a little surprised when I drove up to find a winery with no roof! Danie assured me it would all be fine by vintage – an impressive upgrade is underway with old concrete tanks being replaced with shiny new stainless steel. The star wine of the tasting was 2015 Skuinsberg Cinsaut, which was appropriate as that night it scored 5 stars at the Annual Platter Awards ceremony. Well done to Danie, Carin, Danie Sr and Yngvild.

That evening, I managed to arrive at Rustenberg bang on time for a winery tour, tasting and overnight stay with the Barlow family in their beautiful Cape Dutch manor house. Rozanne excelled as usual at the table and in every aspect of her warm and generous hospitality. A 1966 Rustenberg Red blend was served in honour of my birthday the day before! At the time of my visit, the annual Open Weekend was taking place. I have to stress that the Rustenberg gardens have to be seen to be believed, they are quite breathtaking even for someone like me with decidedly un-green fingers. It was also incredible to see the Simonsberg Mountain springing back to life after the terrible fires of January that caused so much devastation. The resilience of Nature seen at first hand is truly remarkable.

The next day saw me arriving in Franschhoek at the rather discrete winery that is home to our newest partner, Topiary. This is a rising star with critical, and indeed popular, acclaim arriving on a daily basis. The Chardonnay is set to make its name but I truly adore the Shiraz. Its perfumed elegance is, in my opinion, unique in the Seckford portfolio.

Finally, it was back to Stellenbosch for a meeting and dinner with the beautiful soul and amazing woman that is Cathy Marshall. There will be some very exciting new wines to tell you about in the coming months, watch this space…

All in all it was an exhilarating trip with some amazing memories. Thank you to all our wonderful partners in the Winelands of South Africa.

David Cartwright
November 2016