Very often, in this increasingly-globalised big brand world we now inhabit, it is the smaller outfits that deliver most – rare breed farmers, organic vegetable growers, artisan cheese makers and, in the case of wine, small, family-owned vineyards.
One such vineyard is Waterkloof in South Africa. I had dinner recently with Louis Boutinot, the son of the owner Paul Boutinot. Louis speaks with a broad Manchester accent, thanks, he told me, to the fact that his French grandfather, a hale and hearty 90-year-old, was a chef who opened a little 35-seater restaurant in that city more than 50 years ago.
In 2004, Paul found south-facing Waterkloof in Stellenbosch and, after purchasing the vineyard, produced his first vintage in 2005.
Also over from South Africa for the dinner was Waterkloof’s winemaker, Werner Engelbrecht. He explained that the vineyard and the attached farm have been converted to sustainable bio-dynamic production. Horses, no machinery, do the heavy work. The winemaking philosophy is basically hands off as far as possible. It all sounds perfectly idyllic – and on the evidence of the wines we tasted at dinner the result is a small range of very impressive wines. The wines are made in small quantities and are available in Redmond’s, Jus de Vine and The Mill.
By Myles McWeeney