Bridget battles terroir

If blonde Swartland surfer Eben Sadie is the expressive face of SA terroir then the counter argument is equally toothsome and convincing. Brunette Bridget Davidtsz works for Columbit, largest supplier to the SA wine industry and her sexy black-hooped Seguin Moreau dense grain medium/long toast barrels are popping up in some of the Cape’s most fashionable cellars. A taste of the 2008 Cabernet component of Constantia Glen’s brilliant Bordeaux blend is sufficient to settle any arguments: Bridget’s barrel is no Vanilla Ice rapper with a Pinocchio pompadour. Rather the slow, subtle oaking enhances the minerality of fruit from eight year old vines while adding a dusting of spice and hazelnut. CG winemaker Karl Lambour is such a fan, he’s ordered another thirty.

kl Bridget battles terroir

Bridget’s benedictions do not come cheap – at around E9600 a pop they are 50% more expensive than the competition but one look at the barrels tells you why. Forget the fetishistic black steel hoops – it’s all about dense grain. They don’t even tell you which French forest the oak comes from. And as for toasting the interior, it’s all about slow heat for a long time for maximum penetration resulting in a slow reaction with wine in bondage. Exactly the selling point of the Chassin Burgundian barrels imported by Hemel en Aarde hero Gordon Newton Johnson and Julien Schaal and confirmed by a tasting of Gordie’s Chardonnay made from Hemel en Aarde (as opposed to Kaaimansgat) fruit.

Barrels are the next battlefield for SA wine quality. David Sonnenberg handed the industry a casebook lesson in the shape of his coffee/mocha Pinotage from Diemersfontein. The People’s Pinotage proved that the oke at the boma bar was partial to the heavy toasty oak flavours of medium plus producers of oak staves. Bridget offers a far more sophisticated solution along the lines of high tea with Madame de Pompadour versus a rave with Paris Hilton.