Pinotage and politics. Two things I always get asked about when meeting winos abroad and two topics I’m rarely enthused to discuss.
It took a half Scotsman with one foot firmly planted on the African continent and a penchant for Frappato to make me appreciate Pinotage and the story that got us here.
See I am no exception when it comes to stereotypes myself. When meeting a Sicilian I think Frappato and the mafia. And much like the less savoury elements of South Africa's past there’s little either us or the Italians can do to change history. But we can craft the future!
And as is so often the case with a progressive society it’s easy to become addicted to change at all cost, out with the old and in with the new. But what does that leave us with?
Should we really strip away everything considered to be tainted until we’re left with only the best or the newest or the most pure? Clinical cities devout of any oppressive history? Empty rhetoric stripped equally of offense as well as meaning?
The wine industry, young winemakers specifically, are certainly not immune to this hysteria.
Out with overripe, over extracted burnt rubber and banana replaced with yet more esoteric new aged minimal intervention wines with 11% Alc, strange floaty bits, no oak and a retail price tag that makes grown men shiver for a wine that supposedly made itself all because it contains the spirit of the winemaker. Yet with no real indication of how this mysterious element made its way into the wine?
Could one instead be both progressive and conservative? In a world seemingly allergic to nuance at least one winemaker is looking to aid in the evolution, not revolution, of not just South African wine but also the perception thereof.
Grounded in an appreciation of tradition, born out of a passion for classic literature, a love of travel and his adopted homeland of South Africa; Angus has crafted a maiden release line-up consisting of Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and a Chenin Blanc straw wine, that are quintessentially South African with a tangible sense of place! A rare feat of updating classics without losing their spirit.
- Barry Scholfield<
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows,
I summoned am to a tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end:
Methinks it is no journey.
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.
Angus moved to South Africa 9 years ago to study winemaking and viticulture. Although he was born in Pretoria, he lived in Edinburgh his whole life before the move. After studies he went harvesting locally and abroad.
Excited about what is unique, Angus is specifically fascinated by the way indigenous grapes have become intertwined with history, culture and heritage.
For him It creates an experience that can be reproduced nowhere else in the world; much like culture and old architecture, these indigenous grapes give insight into the past of a particular place.
Angus has coined the terms “Cape Identity” and "heritage varieties", varieties with genetic foothold in South-African history.
Chenin blanc, Pinotage, and Cinsault, the Muscats & Semillon. The wines are made with little interference - basically just SO2.
Angus has two tiers, his Mesas range which is a bit cheaper, lighter and juicier. Here you will find Pinotage and a Chenin/Muscat blend. Then his flagship range, a Pinotage made in a classical style, not too new wave, but more Pinot noir than traditional Pinotage, and an old vine Chenin.
SA wine heritage really began at the absolute end of the middle ages (~1500) when the Europeans and particularly the Portuguese took to exploration, whilst still having their incredibly superstitious Middle Age mentality within them. As such, Angus’ bottles connote the myths, fears and fantasies of the explorers charting unknown territories.
Contained in these wines are elements of superstition and stories the mariners of the age of exploration told one another, or learnt in foreign ports.
Boast no more about the subtle Greek
Or the long odyssey of Trojan Aeneas;
Enough of the oriental conquests
of great Alexander and of Trajan;
I sing of the famous Portuguese
To whom both Mars and Neptune bowed.
Abandon all the ancient Muse revered,
A loftier code of honour has appeared.
And you, nymphs of the Tagus, who
First suckled my infant genius,
If ever in my rustic verses
I celebrated your companionable river,
Return me now a loftier tone,
A style both grand and contemporary;
Be to me Helicon. Let Apollo choose
Your water as the fountain of my muse.