A spot for ‘my’ perfect little wine cellar
08 June 2016
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Thanks for joining me for another episode of Old Mutual Live Wine Edition, I’m Jenny Crwys–Williams . Now, I can’t lie to you, Gary Oberholzer was my producer on Radio 702, no wine was left un-tasted, no meal. Particularly when we were out of the studio and on location somewhere, was ignored, we had some memorable wines and some memorable food. He’s an enthusiastic foodie and we are very competitive when it comes to both. What does he have in his cellar? I can’t wait to see and in fact, I’m standing in the cellar and Gary Oberholzer is standing next to me.
Gary Oberholzer: Jenny, it’s been a while.
JCW: It has been a while, but there have been some wonderful occasions that we’ve shared together. Tell me about this absolutely gorgeous little cellar.
GO: It’s a corner of the house that when we were renovating, we decided was going to be a very dark side of the house. While the architect and my wife were wondering what they could do with it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I created a small little wine room that has no direct sunlight, that’s on a shady side of the house.
My long love for my Meerlust
JCW: Let’s go through some of this collection, is that Meerlust that I see up there?
GO: It’s lots of bottles of Meerlust, yes, and they’re probably my first purchases. There was a time at university where a sign of your worldliness and your wiseness was to have a Meerlust Rubicon stuck away somewhere. Just for a special occasion, perhaps you had a special visitor that you wanted to impress.
So after a few trips to Cape Town during university, I had built up a small collection of Meerlust wines, mostly Rubicon’s. Which I’m pleased to say that I’m diminishing very slowly. But also I still have the hangover of Pinot Noir’s here that I really haven’t got an idea what I’m going to do.
JCW: When you say you’ve got a hangover of Pinot Noir’s, you’ve got an early Meerlust Pinot Noir.
GO: Yeah, 1998. I have to say, I probably bought this just after graduating. I’m very happy to have it and I don’t want to waste it. All these wines are here for very special occasions. There will be an evening paired with this wine.
It’s not only food, it’s also about the people that come to visit and the music we’re playing and just the mood of the night. While I don’t want to waste this wine, I do sometimes laugh about the fact that these ones are the ones that move the slowest. I don’t know if they mean the most to me, I don’t know.
JCW: Listen, I think Meerlust is still special. When you say Meerlust Rubicon, from France to America to London, Meerlust Rubicon is known isn’t it?
GO: They absolutely are. The irony is that they’re parked right next to all the newcomers. The Ataraxia’s, the Creation’s, the Southern Right’s. So I think they are feeling like they’re getting nudged out a little. They’re all shiny tops, the more modern wines and these are sort of faded.
JCW: And the labels look as if they’ve been fondled quite a lot.
GO: Yes, they have, the have moved with me and so they’ve done quite well. Because my moves haven’t been great over the years, I’ve lost quite a lot of wine in my moves, sadly.
A great collection of Pinot Noir’s
JCW: The other Pinot Noir’s you’ve got, I know you’ve been talking about the Ataraxia, but what about this crowd up here?
GO: I’m actually very lucky to have a friend who comes to stay over for work every now and again. Quite regularly actually and his wife collects wines. So his gift to me, after staying a night, is normally a very pleasant wine from Stellenbosch. I’m sitting on quite a lot of Cape Winemakers Guild De Trafford, 2000 Pinot Noir. If I knew what to do with these darn Pinot Noirs, I’d be able to start enjoying them. I know this is a good wine –
JCW: I can make lots of suggestions, I really and truly can!
GO: Come and visit more often!
JCW: I can see Thelema over there, very distinctive in its packaging.
GO: Yes, and I think a lot of this was bought; the Thelema wines were probably bought while we were working together. Because I knew you were a fan of Thelema’s and when I ever got a chance to taste it, magnificent wines. I haven’t known them for long, so there’s a 2012, I’m sitting on. I think this is a 2010 but it’s a young section of Thelema’s that I’m going to sadly work through, only in a few years’ time.
Finding New Zealand wines back in SA
JCW: Let’s talk about some of your foreign wines because you did that epic trip to New Zealand. I kept getting pictures of you, there was one picture, I just thought it was too much, it was at the side of the road –
GO: At the Pork Pie.
JCW: Please describe it for everyone.
GO: It’s a tear jerker. Roadside stall pie, basically a little homemade pork pie with pineapple and cheese inside it. But the crust on top of the pie is port crackling. You can’t drive and waste something like that. I had to pull over, I was taking photos to send to you, but also, I convinced my wife on the way back up South Island to stop at the same farm stall so that I could have a repeat experience.
JCW: Was it as good the second time?
GO: Which was near surreal, yes, without a doubt. I had to manage my expectations, but we had had such great experiences in New Zealand. Very similar to the restaurant that we sat in in London where I had been introduced to Maori Tapas for the very first time in Cloudy Bay.
I don’t know if it was Cloudy Bay or the Maori Tapas which I enjoyed the most, but New Zealand delivered on food and wine and then some. Coming home, I had gone now to Norman Goodfellows to try and source very similar New Zealand wines to what I had been tasting. Some of the New Zealand wines we had found very expensive.
I found one very reasonable wine called The Ned, it’s a Sauvignon Blanc and we bought quite a lot of it. I think it was around, the equivalent of about R100-R120. Which for a Sauvignon Blanc, and especially from New Zealand, that was very reasonable. If anybody is travelling to London, I would recommend you look out for it, The Ned.
Then at Normal Goodfellows I found Mud House, and that was around R140-R150, they recently had an international wine sale. I just bought two bottles because my experience was such a positive one in New Zealand.
JCW: I think your introduction to New Zealand wines at that New Zealand restaurant in London. It is the first time I have ever seen anybody ever cry while they were eating their food. Actually, I thought you were upset!
GO: I was upset. When you say we’re going to experience, half of it is to savour that moment. But also you start panicking that now that it’s started, there’s an end coming. It’s the inevitable end and can we come back here tomorrow. I knew you weren’t going to bring me back the next day. In fact, I probably couldn’t afford to go back there the next day.
Some of my most precious wines
JCW: These wines down below, just take us through some of them because some of these are very precious aren’t they?
GO: Yes, very precious to me. The Cloudy Bay’s, we bought, just after our London experience. I bought them as a way to re-ignite the passion for New Zealand wines. When we did get to go to New Zealand, I was very excited. This was also bought on that foreign wine sale from Carry’s place. An Italian wine, a Primosic. I mean this is, I think that’s it, you want to try and bring your travels back home.
The rest of my foreign wines are wines that I’ve experience somewhere else. We were lucky enough to go barging last year. I brought back a number of wines from Burgundy, where we did barge. If my wife can just make that beef bourguignon the same way that she did on the barge, I’ve got a wine to go with it!
JCW: What would that wine be?
GO: Well, I did go quite crazy –
JCW: Cote Du Rhone?
GO: Yes, Cote Du Rhone, but also from the same brand. I’ve got a little Latour down here that I’m just waiting for the right occasion to open, but I think this is another Pinot Noir, it is, look there.
JCW: Okay, I see a Pinot Noir evening coming up, without a shadow of a doubt, that looks magnificent. It’s a Louis Latour.
GO: But it’s a Pinot Noir. You’re coming around, anyway, that’s the foreign selection.
JCW: When you go and buy South African wines, you used to have a house down Kommetjie Way, but you scoured that region and the Overberg, a lot of time spent on the Overberg.
Traversing the Overberg
GO: Very lucky with the Overberg, to spend as much time as we do there and as you know the area, very lime stony, very dry, very harsh, arid. While I would encourage anybody to go and travel that part of the world; what I can warn you is that you’re going to, at some stage on your trip, wish that there was a comfort break. There was a restaurant, something to drink, something to eat.
Luckily in the last few years that has happened on a wine farm called the Black Oyster Catcher. While you drive for maybe an hour or two to get there, over very dry, dusty roads and there’s very little to look at. It’s very beautiful.
When you get to the Black Oyster Catcher sit yourself down to the most magnificent meal and make sure you crack the Black Oyster Catcher Rosé. Because while you have to sit there with your sunglasses on because it’s that right and that stark and just arid. That Black Oyster Catcher, it’s like honey when that Rosé lands with a bit of ice, it’s magnificent.
JCW: And it’s almost equidistant between Elim and Bredasdorp.
GO: Yes. First Sighting is nearby, which is another great farm to visit. They claim that, I think it was their Shiraz, they said in the tasting notes. That it tastes like wet gravel. I had never got that tasting note, but I’ll keep trying. We’ll go back again in December and we’ll try again.
JCW: Is there a wine here; I recently interviewed a guy and he said he would not allow his wife, Wendy Lowby to go into his cellar. In case she grabbed one of his precious bottles, made bolognaise out of it. He would come in and he would find the prize possession had been gobbled by people who knew nothing.
My most prized possession
GO: Yes, there is. On price there would be one of the New Zealand wines. I bought a wine on the Island of Waiheke from a very small vineyard. They’re all very small there, but the vineyard is called Te Motu. I bought a wine called The Grafter. It’s a 2013, but it cost me what a case of wine does here. If she had to open this, there would be a little antagonism on price.
When it comes to the actual wine and the story, I think it would probably be the Pinotage from Stellenbosch that I bought from Super Single Vineyards. If you’re taking the road to Jordaan and you go past De Waal Wines, there’s a little road on the left, a little country lane with lavender. The reason why we turned down the country lane was because of the lavender, and we came across the Super Single Vineyards.
They make a very acclaimed Syrah called Mount Sutherland, which you’ve found out about before. But what they also claim is that they have a Pinotage that comes from an ancient vineyard. From a vineyard that is rumoured to have been some of the very first Pinotage crops grown in South Africa. A very special Pinotage.
I think if my wife had to open this without my knowing, and then pour it into one of her meals, she would have to take me back because it was such a lovely experience. She’d probably gladly take me back to go and replace it, to be honest. It’s a lavender and wine farm together and just to be there for the day, I wouldn’t rush the wine tasting. I would take a glass and go and stand outside and just look onto just a field of lavender, it’s very pretty.
JCW: Is there anywhere in that part of the world that doesn’t just take your breath away?
GO: Well, carry on down the road, Jordaan, De Morgenzon, all those places are just, ja.
JCW: I see you’ve got a bottle of Delaire Graff, is that an early one?
GO: It’s early for me. When you interviewed the winemaker from Delaire Graff and they were spending so much money on replanting their vineyards and buying very good equipment for the farm. Just after Lawrence Graff took it over, if you recall. Probably a year after he had started becoming very active on that wine scene, I went to visit the farm.
We didn’t eat the Polynesian restaurant like I had hoped, but what we did do was a wine tasting and the Delaire Shiraz. I’ve got a 2009, it’s a Silver Medal award winning wine. But I’m looking for a very special occasion to open this Shiraz. I’m guessing it’s probably going to be a lamb shank or something like that involved, it’s got to be a big one.
JCW: Loved talking to you, thank you very much in. Thanks very much for listening to Old Mutual Live Wine edition, on mobile, on digital, on demand.