JUST THE FACTS
Price: R280 (as of Oct 2016)
Winery: Badenhorst Family Wines
Varietal: Red Blend
Wine Region: Swartland
Country: South Africa
Ponce Factor: Through the roof
Occasion: Anytime you’re on a date with a vegan
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If you read nothing else
Some estates harvest in strict accordance with the correct physiological ripeness. Maverick winemaker Adi Badenhorst prefers “psychological ripeness”; when the timing “just feels right”.
The result is a fresh, elegant Shiraz-fronted red blend with herbal and spice aromatics, fine grapeskin tannins, and exquisitely pronounced laser-like red fruit acidity. At its core, the wine holds juicy red cherries, currants, and red plum fruit, finished off with delicate hints of pepper & cloves. An exquisite example of just how elegant and refined a shiraz blend can be.
The man, the mystery, the boerewors
Adi Badenhorst is a visual mélange of Old Testament Abrahamic beardy majesty and a skater from Tableview. But one very soon realizes that his conflicting visual cues are simply a premonition of the multiple contradictions that this winemaking legend embodies. When speaking publically, he mixes his penchant for profanity with regular religious references (he makes wine that are like sermons – they “comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable”) and, most noticeably, he is relentlessly self-effacing, while clearly carrying the sort of charisma that has his audiences hanging on his every word. When asked what his wines pair well with, he replies, “Shit, I don’t know. But they taste bloody lekker with boerewors.”
It’s really hard not to like him.
Why Vegans love Adi
Vegans are, by and large, pretty down on the human race. Humans are all idiots who messed up the planet. Humans drink milk, even though they are most certainly not baby cows. And humans think they’re clever but are almost always doing something that will inevitably lead to their extinction.
So the big question is
How does a man, who wakes up at 5am to eat boerewors with fellow Swartland legend Eben Sadie, make wines that are perfectly suited to impress a disdainful vegan? Well, quite simply, by embodying all of those elements into a wine that still manages to pair well with boerewors (just because she’s vegan, doesn’t mean you have to be):
Adi acknowledges that people can be dumb:
Adi harvests his grapes according to “psychological ripeness”. Instead of running around with a brix meter measuring sugar levels of various grape varieties, he prefers to simply pick a day when it “feels right” and then harvest his grapes. Why? Because the more that humans try fiddle around with a harvest, the greater the chances that they’ll mess it all up. As Porseleinberg’s Callie Louw likes to remind us, “your wine is just a measurement of how well you farmed”. So farm well, and then relax about what comes afterwards.
Irrigation should not be a thing in the Swartland:
Adi farms with utmost respect for his environment. Not only does he select grape varieties that grow well in the hot dry Swartland (his view is that varieties of Portuguese origin work wonderfully, by and large), but he also refuses to irrigate his vineyards. Why? Because water is scarce, and irrigating your grapes shows a distinct lack of respect for both water as a natural resource, and for certain grapes’ ability to thrive against the odds.
There is always hope for humanity:
In his own words, Adi was fired from making wine for the iconic Rustenburg Wine Estate for a combination of offenses that included using foul language and making a particularly dodgy rosé. But had that never happened, he wouldn’t have found the magical piece of Swartland land that is Kalmoesfontein – the home of all AA Badenhorst family wines.
So however disdainful one may be of the human race, one has to believe in second chances, and Kalmoesfontein, (and the wines that have brought Adi international acclaim and rave reviews from half of the world’s leading wine critics) is a tangible piece of evidence to support this. While vegans may exhibit a tough exterior, they really just hanker after genuine hope for the future of the planet, and Adi’s wines are a delightful combination of sensory bliss and ideological uncle banana which may or may not set you in good stead for a glorious evening of soul connection with any vegan worth his or her biodynamic salt.
About the Author
Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.