Limestone, Love, Life on the Langeberg

Robertson is an appellation full of big men and women (mostly called either De Wet or Bruwer) who make wines with big flavours in big volumes. But there are also small indringers like Johan Fourie and his wife Marié, who bought 1400 ha of paradise on the slopes of the Langeberg eight years ago and planted 10ha of vines. For 15 years Johan was a corporate critter at the Development Bank of SA in Midrand. But dreams are for following and thank heavens they did for their 6000 bottle Shiraz blend called Limestone Q and 1800 bottles of Carignan called Carignina punch way above their weight and add immeasurably to the diversity of the SA wine offering.

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Johan at Societi Bistro yesterday

The importance of diversity being a point well made by Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte in WineLand magazine and contradicted by Tim James CWM on the Grape communal blog yesterday. One of the many shortcomings of the SA wine writing fraternity is a failure to stir their stumps and get out more to taste the explosion of new wines in the Overberg, Robertson and Agulhas, to name just three appellations that are fizzing with excitement at the minute. Pontificating from Pinelands, complaining from Claremont and whining from Wynberg like Tim does, really doesn’t cut it.

Johan and I enjoyed his Fourie & Le Roux reds along with an intensely flavoured venison Bourginon of Stef Marais at Societi Bistro yesterday and each wine complemented different aspects of the dish. The slippery tannins of the Limestone Q (named after the limestone quarry on the farm and the profusion of limestone that adds a crushed seashell minerality to the reds) and dense sweet fruit flavours echoed the venison while the spicy Carignan was great with the wilted spinach I ordered in lieu of buttered mash.

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Straw bale cellar

Johan has built a straw bale cellar on the farm and he comments “it is the first straw bale cellar and also the highest (9m) straw bale structure in the southern hemisphere. It’s got wonderful thermal capacity dramatically reducing our electricity cost as well as having a low carbon footprint from an energy consumption point as well as the building materials used with a old world feel of its 500mm wall thickness and stucco plaster with 50% lime rendering for breathability.”

Imagine the incredible wines SA would produce if just 10% of bankers followed Johan’s example and did something constructive, like make authentic wines in a terroir-rich environment. Something SA has no shortage of.