Angela Daniels | Weekend Post | SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2014
Picturesque Garden Route town exhibited best of wine, bubbly and food
As a boy growing up in the Transkei, Plettenberg Bay mayor Memory Booysen would have laughed had anyone told him he would one day be sipping Chardonnay and swilling Sauvignon Blanc while slukking down an oyster or two. In a similar fashion renowned wine maker Anton Smal – in his early days as a vintner on the Stellenbosch wine route – would have given a wry smile and a shake of his head had he been told that his career would take him to an area many believed would never yield vines good enough to create award winning wines.
Yet, last weekend, the affable pair took centre stage at the inaugural Plettenberg Bay Wine and Bubbly Festival. Speaking at the festival’s opening ceremony, at swish hotel The Plettenberg, the charismatic Booysen said the switch from umqombothi (traditional beer) to wine took a little bit of getting used to. And just when he got used to the whites people pressed him to try the reds – something he managed with the help of a little bit of coke. The mix of red wine and coke, known colloquially as katemba, is no longer Booysen’s poison as he “has become middle class now” and enjoys his wine undiluted.
And what wines they are. In an amazing display of excellence many of the wine farms are winning awards – nothing short of a miracle when one considers that the first vines were only introduced to the area in 2000. Now, 14 years later, 16 estates can be found in Plettenberg Bay and the wines of origin region pulled off a magnificent show at the Beacon Isle.
Much of the success of the wines can be attributed to Smal who is the vintner for most of the estates and who says he is loving life in the picturesque Garden Route town. While the Plett Wine and Bubbly Festival could not compete with the recently held Port Elizabeth wine show in terms of foot traffic and the number of exhibitors, it won hands down in terms of atmosphere and sophistication. Top SA band Watershed provided the entertainment, artisanal food was on offer and waves crashed behind the white canopied lawns of the Beacon Isle.
With nine estates exhibiting and over 30 wines on offer there was plenty to tempt the palate. And while it’s all a matter of personal taste, I would advise people to try the Sauvignon Blanc from Anderson’s, the Chardonnay from Newstead, Bramon’s MCC and Packwood’s Pinot Noir MCC. For quirky gifts Rare Earth’s funky MCC Champu is a must – it’s irreverent, fun and delicious to boot.