Beards, Barrels and Barton @ Botriver

It was lexicographically appropriate that PJ Geyer in a retro Swazi shirt with a cowlicked bolla, should win the prize for best beard in Botriver last night for he makes wine at Barton, that new estate you end up at if you get lost on your way to Herm-anus, so named as its the bottom of Africa for the fashionable Hèrmes brigade. Although Hermanus and its works are not popular in Botriver after producer Hermanusincrediblylongname banned them from using a sheep as their logo, after they’d already printed the stick-on decals. Which now will have to find use as sticky holders for car license disks on the windscreen of the village’s many Landrover Defenders.

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Winner PJ Gerber last night

No surprises to report that PJ’s best wine last night was a soft and fruity Bordeaux-style blend from the 2011 vintage and if Barton’s besiter (owner, for all you non-boere), a retired English barrister who owns a bunch of properties outside Heathrow in the UK, runs true to form, then it should be on the shelf soon for under R100. PJ is a transpose of JP Rossouw, the most famous mediast in the valley whose annual restaurant guide holds the hand of wannabe gastronauts and the edibly insecure.

I first met PJ back in the days when he made wine for Alain Moueix in Somerset West, a town whose traffic lights have gotten more numerous and even less synchronized than when I last drove through, if that’s at all possible. Somerset West city fathers waste more tourist time with their hopeless roads than any other destination in SA – they should be sure to take a stand at Vindaba, the controversial wine tourism show at the Convention Centre in Cape Town in September.

Back then PJ’s brand was Ingwe the leopard, a Cartier among cuvées. Very few SA wine lovers understood the subtle wines, preferring the more obvious blockbusters that win show medals and are punted by the media, so Alain went back to France, converted to biodynamism and no doubt grew a beard which were celebrated in style last night.  Kobie Viljoen, who makes the angelic wine at Gabrielskloof, was transformed into the spitting image of Rolling Stone Keef Richards by his beard, dreads and bandanna, below.

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Kobie Viljoen, spiritual grandson of Keef Richards

In a beard, Niels Verburg is transformed into Vincent van Gogh and his father into a torch singer who added a bluesy influence to the Stoepsitters boereorkes, the Baardskerdersbosorkes not being available. They say never trust a man with a beard, but from what I tasted last night, bearded boys make the best wine in the Overberg, and that’s no hairy story.