June 18, 2010 Reyneke Wines
Reyneke Wines Cornerstone
South Africa (Stellenbosch)
cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and shiraz
Celebrate the beautiful game with a wine from South Africa, homeland of Bafana Bafana!
The world is football mad at the moment. World Cup 2010 offers plenty of reasons to raise a bottle in front of the TV screen.
Reyneke Wines Cornerstone 2007
Behind the minimalist label on an etched bottle is a fine and tasteful blend. It draws you in with the depth of its flavours and the obvious skill of the winemakers. Dark violet in the glass, with aromas of spice and black fruit, it is dry, yet lively in the mouth. This is a seriously balanced wine. The oak is there but doesn’t dominate, allowing the terroir to come through handsomely. A few more years in the bottle would have evened out the tannins a bit more, but it drinks very nicely in its youth.
Play on! $
Johan Reyneke began his foray into wine-making in 1998, on his family’s farm not far from the long-established town of Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. Years before this, the farm had begun a move to increase biodiversity, with the planting of indigenous vegetation, in part to encourage the return of local wildlife. Cultivation of vineyards along organic, then biodynamic, lines was a natural inclination.
The terroir held true to its promise. The vineyards, on hillsides a few kilometres from False Bay, benefit from cooling ocean breezes. The ancient soils (routinely, tilling uncovers stone age axe-heads) are sandy in nature, atop decomposed granite and clay. Biodiversity on the farm has now reached a level that exceeds even that found in the natural environment. Approaches as simple as planting clover to divert the mealy bug from the vines show how a route away from herbicides and pesticides need not be as complicated as some winegrowers imagine.
The 40-year-old vines of Reyneke produce grapes for what became in 2004 the first biodynamic winery in South Africa. It remains one of the very few wineries in the country taking such an approach.
Johan Reyneke is a university graduate in environmental philosophy, an avid surfer (he narrowly escaped attack by sharks late last year), a man noted for putting his solid social conscience into practice. Most praiseworthy is the establishment of the Cornerstone program to help winery workers acquire their own homes, and to further educate themselves and their families. Proceeds from the sale of the Cornerstone blend are earmarked for this program. In a country working to pull away from a long history of inequality of opportunity, it stands as a promising endeavour.
Cornerstone — a commendable initiative. Cornerstone — a commendable wine.