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South Africa in pictures

South Africa’s producers pulled out all the stops to entertain and impress visitors to Cape Wine 2015. the drinks business got stuck into a week of trebuchets, vertical tastings, errant goats and soaking up some spectacular scenary.

What better way to blow off the cobwebs from a 12 hour flight than in sunny Stellenbosch? The ever colourful Helen Chesshire, centre, and Ruth Spivey brought the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa (PIWOSA) producers together with the UK’s Wine Car Boot concept for a day of classic cars, childrens’ races and lekker wine at Journey’s End.

The famous Journey’s End trubuchet added to the party atmosphere with numerous attempts to destroy a caravan by hurling barrels of wine at it. Sadly the target proved a remarkably resilient and tricky adversary.

Showing off the Cape at its finest was Delaire Graff, where guests soaked up this evening view before joining winemakers for a masterclass on South African Chardonnay. Producers including De Wetshof, Groot Constantia, Delaire and Jordan demonstrated the distinctions in regional expression and age-worthy nature that they can achieve with this international grape. 

Then it was back to Cape Town for the results of the Amorim Méthode Cap Classique Challenge. Achim von Arnim of Haut Cabrière was awarded the Legacy Trophy for his pioneering work with this sparkling wine style and proceeded to give an impromptu sabrage masterclass. 

Duncan Savage of Cape Point Vineyards joined forces with De Toren to host a dinner at Ellerman House for a showcase of how successfully South Africa can interpret Bordeaux-style white and red blends. In the background lies the hotel’s “Terroir Wall”, featuring soil samples drawn from estates across the Cape. 

Anthony Hamilton Russell of Hamilton Russell Vineyards pours 10 vintages of his Pinot Noir at an event designed to show off the track record and age-worthiness that many of South Africa’s producers can now demonstrate. The broad range of regions and styles represented here reached from the great sweet wines of Klein Constantia through to the Bordeaux blends of Kanonkop, Warwick and Vilafonté, Hartenberg’s Stellenbosch Shiraz and Eben Sadie’s Columella, a Swartland take on Mediterranean grape varieties. 

From classics to mavericks: one wine shop in the trendy Cape Town suburb of Woodstock was proudly displaying this old vine Sauvignon Blanc, despite – or perhaps because of – its rejection by the country’s certifying Wine & Spirit Board. 

Fine dining in South Africa no longer means steak. Accolade Wines invited guests and fellow South African producers to an indulgent evening at one of South Africa’s top restaurants, Test Kitchen. This Japanese-influenced langoustine dish was complemented by the shimmering acidity of Paul Cluver’s 2014 Elgin Chardonnay.

After all that gastronomy it was time for some exercise. A group of Constantia producers led a tour through Kirstenbosch botanical garden and up over the Constantia Nek to their vineyard region. Here Debra Meiburg MW does a double take as we pass a couple out walking their pet goat. 

The trip came to a close with a visit to Hemel en Aarde, where established names such as Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson have been joined by an exciting band of younger producers, from the arrival of Newton Johnson and Sumaridge in the mid-‘90s to even newer estates including Ataraxia and Creation since the turn of the Millennium. 

And finally, as the Rugby World Cup kicked off, Waterford Estate hosted a braai and tasting of local producers before screening England’s victorious opening game against Fiji. Following South Africa’s shock defeat by Japan, db’s Gabby Stone proved that anyone can get a Springbok cap these days.

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