JUST THE FACTS
Price: R210 (as of June 2017)
Varietal: Red Bdx Blend
Wine Region: Botrivier
Country: South Africa
Ponce Factor: Higher than Jamaican pharmacist
Occasion: Any time, anywhere. Hell, you could swig this at breakfast on a Wednesday, and it would still go down a treat.
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If you read nothing else
Few would dare suggest that the Paul Sauers, VilaFontés or DeTraffords of the world are overpriced. But it’s worth noting that folk are producing equitable wines at 20% of the price.
At R210.00, Gabrielskloof Five Arches is a BDX blend worth hunting for.
Nose is positively Roman, with mammoth tobacco, cocoa, cassis & explosive oak.
Mouthfeel is full, with a concentrated cassis that is every bit the match to the preceding bouquet.
Superb structure on the tail, with rich cedar aromas over well-proportioned oaky tannins.
You will very seldom find such outstanding quality at such a reasonable price.
The lost art of being nice
Taking some tourists around the wine lands recently, I was trying to compile a short list of must-sees for them to tick off. The task proved hugely challenging on account of the fact there was no single metric for measuring the quality of a wine farm. There were multiple overlapping metrics. Does one pick based on the quality of the wine? The views? The architecture? The restaurant? What about the double whammy of an architectural-award-winning wine cellar that makes award-winning wines (Tokara)? Or maybe you just lust after a short stroll in a tunnel of giant hanging pumpkins. Who doesn’t?!
Depending on your inclination, all of these are meaningful ways to pick a final location. But casting a retrospective eye over the weekend, none of these factors were instrumental in nailing down the firm favourite.
When asking the group which estates stood out to them, the unanimous verdict was that the winners were the farms that made them feel most welcome.
“In an industry that relies on notions of exclusivity, it is no wonder that so many would-be wine lovers end up feeling excluded.”
Now that fact that Gabriëlskloof’s tasting centre feels very much like someone’s home goes a long way to creating the impression of warmth. But nowhere near as much as the people who work there.
In an industry that relies (in part) on notions of exclusivity , it is no wonder that so many would-be winelovers end up feeling excluded. Not so at Gabriëlskloof. The beginner is encouraged to learn more, and the more seasoned alcoholics are taken further down the rabbit hole, having their more involved questions affably answered, without it costing the attention of the rest of the group.
Even Gabriëlskloof’s pricing structure screams an ethos of customer-centrism, with its outstanding flagship wines sold at prices well below those of neighbouring estates with questionable pedigree.
A Journalist’s Kryptonite
Probably most telling fact about the efficacy of hospitality is that, as a journalist who prides himself on being objective in his work, I find it supremely difficult to critique the labour of a winemaker who appears to genuinely like people.
If I was a hippie, I would suggest that perhaps one can taste the love in a man’s work, but I’m not (and the thought makes me a little bit queasy), so I won’t. But what I will say is that wine estates that learn to win over people as often as they win medals will have a far stronger future than those that don’t.
Also, apologies for being so serious. I will definitely include fart jokes in my next post.
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.