The Intellego Kedungo

The gateway drug to natural wines

An ideological tussle

I do not consider “weird wine” to be synonymous with “awesome wine”. Unfortunately a lot of proponents of natural wines really do. Which means they promote weird wines when they could be promoting good wines. And the end result is that – through their inability to avoid being antagonistic – they end up undermining the very movement that they seek to promote.
And so it was, with this little ideological tussle in the back of my mind, that I sat listening to Jurgen Gouws chat about his range of Intellego wines, and he kinda started to freak me out.
Perhaps it was caused by the cognitive dissonance caused by his passionate talk of the ridiculously low yields of precious, precious fruit from his organically-farmed Swartland old vines (harvesting roughly 1 or 1.5 tonnes of fruit per hectare…as opposed to…say 15 or 20 tonnes of grapes that one might get from a hectare of younger chardonnay vines in Stellenbosch) juxtaposed with his rather lackadaisical assertions that he “tries not to look at the numbers too much” and “prefers to trust his gut” and “leave the wines alone to become what they want be.”
Last time I checked, if grapes are left alone to “be what they want to be”, you soon discover that many grapes just want to rot in the soil, or (if they escape that fate) might raise their life goals to producing vinegar that occasionally sports a blue mould toupee.
Fortunately, a little more probing into exactly what Jurgen does in his vineyards (and in the cellar) helped to resolve the unbearable mental tension. For when Jurgen talks about *minimal intervention*, and refers to “just lettings the grapes be what they want to be”, what he *means* is something quite different to what one at first imagines. What he means is this:
IF you are ruthless in your pursuit of healthy soil, farmed in a regenerative style, and in accordance with organic principles…
IF you vigilantly patrol your vines and guard daily against mildew, virus, pests, and marauding malicious pigmies…
IF you treat your hygiene cellar with the prodigious attention of a CDC worker in a hazmat suit…
IF you watch your wines closely as they ferment, and test vigorously post-ferment in order to ensure that they are stable in the bottle (ask him about his Four-days-in-the-Swartland-Sun” test)…
THEN, and only then, can you just let a wine be what it wants to be.
Luckily for wine drinkers, the Intellego range of natural wines appear to have been made with grapes that have turned out to be remarkably community-minded. They co-operated in a rather splendid manner to deliver flavour profiles that some how manage to be both highly accessible, and strikingly distinctive.
While the Kedungu featured here is not the most distinctive, nor the most acclaimed of his range (those would be his “Elementis” skin-contact Chenin Blanc and his “Sleeping Co-Pilot” skin-contact Viognier), it is a magnificently low-risk gateway drug for people who have mistakenly thought natural wines to be faulty, cloudy, funky, or all of the above. A superb wine (and subsequent education) for modest ZAR140.00 (GBP17.00 from @port2port for UK-based fans).

Where to find them:

If you’re willing to wait a few days to receive them, the Intellego range is easy enough to find online at sites like www.exanimo.co.za ; www.publik.co.za or www.ballihoo.co.za