This may sound like an odd thing to say, but bear with me. In the South African wine industry, much like the music industry these days, indie is where it’s at. Independent wine producers are doing some great things locally, while their wines are also carving out a new niche in international markets, where they consistently amaze wine journalists with their quality and value.
When it comes to wine shows however, WineX is sort of the equivalent of a Big Concerts event. This year’s show was particularly lacking in indie cred, because many of the smaller producers spent their money attending another big show earlier this year. Needless to say this played havoc with my “to drink” list, since some of the best wines we’ve produced over the last couple of years were absent from Wines 2012.
Unfortunately though, this is where my carefully constructed metaphor collapses because, while they have created some truly amazing wines over the last few years, great wine is hardly the exclusive purview of indie producers in South Africa. To compensate for the lack of smaller wineries, or possibly because we just got lucky this year, the big producers really brought their A-lists to this year’s show.
And, fortunately for me, a quick metaphorical recalibration will allow me to give these wines an added sheen of indie cred. Here are some of the greatest hits from WineX 2012:
(Note: the wines listed below mostly featured on my aspirational drinking list. I had another list of wines to try that I could actually afford. Obviously these were far less memorable.)
Mulderbosch Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2007
If this wine were a musician it would be: Frank Ocean. Complicated, thought-provoking and gleefully defying convention, this is a wine to bring a tear to the eye and a smile to the face.
Alvi’s Drift Wines International ADS Chardonnay / Viognier 2011
If this wine were a band it would be: That one that you’re listening to now that no-one else has heard of. They’re going to be huge, but you’d prefer they remained underground.
Paul Cluver Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2009
If this wine were a band it would be: Bon Iver. Challenging, earthy and amazingly rewarding, once you get into it. Perfect for sipping in a dimly-lit log cabin while contemplating the cruel symmetry of naturel and the inscrutability of the human heart.
If this wine were a band it would be: Coldplay. Poised, polished, but lacking enough edge to make a lasting impact.
Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage 2009
If this wine were a band it would be: Arcade Fire. Big, bombastic and brilliant. A true South African classic, this is a wine to crack open when your child makes their first appearance for the Springboks.
A pop-culture obsessive armed with lasers and a carefully chosen turn-of-phrase. The Inspector has spent years developing an advanced system whereby only the finest movies, TV shows, books and events are able to evade his carefully-calibrated sensors. Those that make it through will be elevated, celebrated, venerated, and generally enthused about online. Those that don’t will be incinerated.