Leave it to Louis

Louis van der Riet is the new winemaker at De Krans in Calitzdorp. He was previously assistant winemaker at Allesverloren in the Swartland. Alles was one of the original Mordor producers back in the day before the appellation was “discovered” by Franschhoekfranschhoekcellarwines Leave it to Louis
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marketers and spin doctors. The current furore over the place of Charles Back in the history of grenache in SA and the Piekenierskloof in particular, confirms that producers such as Alles, who’ve been delivering the goods (including SA prime ministers) for generations, should stand up and be counted. Any chance that Cape Legends, the marketing department of Alles, will evict the marketing Swartland squatters? Not likely. But mazeltov to Chas and matzoh balls all round for calling time-out on wizened anoraks seeking to rewrite history.

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Marketing mis-selling is not the thing Louis misses most about the Swartland. It’s rocks. “I wish I could bring some rocks from Riebeek” he told me last night “the soils here are mostly alluvial.” Which could account for the vast differences in flavour between Tinta Barocca from Alles and the same grape grown on De Krans.

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Tinta Barocca is the Pinot Noir of the Klein Karoo, making long lasting wines with a herbal character the locals refer to as Hotnots Khoigoed. Which was confirmed last night when De Krans owner Boets Nel led us on a vertical tasting of his Vintage Ports back to 1997. The 17 year old was as sprightly as the ostrich must have been that brother Stroebel transformed into braaigoed.

The favourite Port was a 2003 where the floral complexity added by Touriga Nacional came into its own. But what an achievement: ten world-class Ports all in great shape in a Klein Karoo setting so green, it looked like the Transkei. On the subject of green, Louis has produced a 2013 Chenin Blanc in a fresh and fruity style that is a doppelgänger for something from the cellar of Zakkie Bester in Riebeek-Kasteel.

But not half as green as the lively Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Outeniqua bottled under the Garden Route label. Hats off to Boets for not calling it De Krans and preserving the taste integrity of his desert appellation. Unlike the big name Franschhoek producer who sources his Syrah from Riebeek West. If the big brands won’t take terroir seriously, is there any future for the Cape Vintner Classification some other Franschhoek producers and their friends are trying to coax into life?