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Friday, December 12, 2008


New wine from Groote Post brings a distinct touch of Christmas cheer.

A new wine from the Groote Post Vineyards, an hour’s drive north of Cape Town, brings a distinct touch of Christmas cheer, especially to those who are not in the first flush of youth.

It is a Methode Cap Classique sparkling wine, made by the traditional champagne method. The French say that the term champagne must be restricted to wines produced in the Champagne region of France, hence the South African term Cap Classique. I think it is faintly ridiculous; we should be allowed to call our own excellent bubblies Cape champagne.

Anyway this one has a name you won’t forget in a hurry. It is called The Old Man’s Sparkle, and it joins two other Old Man wines made at Groote Post. The name is intended to honour Peter Pentz, co-owner of the farm with his son Nick.

Peter Pentz (who is not so very old) is a former dairyman who has converted to wine farming with great success and is also well-known as a conservationist. Groote Post itself is a historic farm near Darling, on the Cape west coast. Its homestead was built in 1808 and was a “shooting box” for Lord Charles Somerset, governor of the Cape nearly 200 years ago. The name comes from its original role as a post to protect farmers and their animals from stock thieves.

And The Old Man’s Sparkle? This is a most unusual Cap Classique in that it is made entirely from a red grape, merlot. Groote Post has some fine merlot vineyards and the grapes were picked green to make this wine.

The result is a brut (dry) white sparkling wine with a slight and attractive salmon pink tinge. It was made by the slow and painstaking French method of second fermentation in the bottle, and it was cellared for two years before release for sale.

It is an intense wine with a biscuity flavour, a yeasty texture and a fine mousse (the fancy name for the bubbles). It retails at about R75 a bottle.

The Cap Classique field has many other fine wines. This is one of the most distinctive, in character and in name.

Groote Post has also released two new vintages in its Old Man range, which has become popular in recent years. The 2008 vintage of The Old Man’s Blend White, sauvignon blanc/chenin blanc, is available at about R39 a bottle and The Odd Man’s Blend Red, 2007, mainly merlot, is R44. Both most enjoyable and well up to the standard of previous vintages. Both wines won silver medals in the 2008 Michelangelo international wine awards.

Groote Post is open for tasting and sales and it has a restaurant called Hilda’s Kitchen (Hildagonda Duckitt, the celebrated cookery author, was born on this farm in 1840). Booking essential. And there are game drives, a dam-side bird hide and nature walks (the farm is part of the west coast spring flower route). Phone 022 492 2825.

As these are my last Wine Notes of the year, may I wish readers a happy and relatively sober Christmas. Remember, enjoy the taste but watch the volume of alcohol consumed. – Michael Green