I recently paid a visit to one of the most beautiful Constantia Wine Farms, Buitenverwachting, and it truly lived up to the meaning of its’ name!
Buitenverwachting = “Beyond Expectation”
It started about 8 months back when a good friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go round and see his winemaker mate at the farm. I still remember the day well. I got so caught up in the cellar, I totally forgot that I had to be home at 5pm and my cell phone rang just as I was sipping on a Pinot Noir that Brad was quietly working on.
Not wanting to drag myself away from this exciting experience I proceeded to tell my wife that I was leaving ‘as we speak’. Honestly though, I just couldn’t drag myself away. I continued to make my way to the top floor cellar to taste a special cab sauv!
As I raced home an hour later than I had said, I was greeted (frostily) only because she had to go to an evening event and was now over an hour late and I had to mind the kids! If it weren’t for the event I recon my night might have been spent sleeping in my car!
Needless to say that Brad also remembered the day I fobbed off my wife to carry on sampling his wines. It’s funny, now!
In the Cellar
When the opportunity presented itself to make a return visit I was quick to take it up.
As Brad and I strolled through the giant maze of stainless steel tanks, tapping, tasting and spitting I had a burning question to ask him.
On that notorious previous visit, I noticed that his wines were relatively “tannin’y”, and on this second visit I really wanted to wrap my head around why. But it’s a foolish wine amateur who thinks that a calculating winemaker on a farm of this stature would have mistakenly done so, as I was to discover!
From my experience, which is limited at best, I have this impression that if a wine is not brilliant or noteworthy, then you ‘quaff it with a meal’. A somewhat derogatory assumption I thought needed clarification.
Brad notes my subtle comments and we continue to walk around talking and tasting. While sampling some cabernet sauvignon at various stages of oak maturation he comments that he makes ‘old world’ style wines where the tannin is there to give structure, depth and character to the wine.
The Buitenverwachting Tasting Room
Moving from the cellar to the Buitenverwachting tasting room I am beginning to understand and appreciate tannin in wine, particularly red wine. I can honestly say that as I accepted tannin in wine for what is, it started to make sense, and, finally it clicked!
Sitting at the tasting bar, I was shuffled a glass of white. I actually cannot remember the name of the wine and I forgot to take a picture, but I do recall the name had a prominent ‘G’. I guessed Sémillon, only to be told it was none other than a Gewürztraminer, hence the prominent ‘G’. I do enjoy a good Gewürztraminer and this one was notable.
Steady streams of white filled my glass as I sampled various varietals from different vintages to compare them side by side.
The Maximus 2014 Limited Release was fruity and floral, but subtle on the nose, with a decadent fresh acidity and full-fruit follow through.
The 2015, was cooler, temperature-wise, which may have restrained the fruit a little, making it slightly lighter, leaning more towards the floral notes on the nose with a slightly more acidic follow through on the palate. I could taste Sémillon again, but guessed a white blend – the easy way out!! To my surprise, it was actually a Sauvignon Blanc of all things. Both vintages were astounding. Be sure to go and taste them for yourself!
Then it was on to the Meifort 2015, a full bodied Bordeaux blend. As we continue our discussion, Brad mentions that his wines are ‘savoury’ in character. and with this word in mind, along with my new appreciation for tannin and the contribution to the wine’s personality, I gave the Meifort a swirl and cemented the valuable lessons learnt during this visit.
The Meifort 2015 has made its way onto my ‘favourite reds’ list. We recently spent a night at the Tintswalo Atlantic and I took this tidy bottle along where we both thoroughly enjoyed it as a compliment to this wintery view of Hout Bay while snacking on biltong and dried mango.
Thanks Brad for sharing your tangible passion for making distinguished wines! It was a real treat.
Buitenverwachting is one of the 9 wine farms making up the Constantia Wine Route, and I count myself very lucky to be able to pay this farm a visit every now and again.
Have you enjoyed a bottle of Buitenverwachting wine recently? Which is your favourite? I would be quite happy with a wine fridge stocked full of their beautiful bottles!
Let me know your favourite wine in the comments below…
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