South Africa: Safari so goodie
Tuesday 31 August
So I’ve finally made it to South Africa after eight years working in the wine industry and this being Africa, day one meant safari.
I’m not sure what I was expecting as I boarded the Big 5 Wine Safari vehicle at Warwick Estate in Stellenbosch but it wasn’t a comparison between a white rhino and Sauvignon Blanc, that’s for sure. But life is full of surprises.
Wrapped in a fuchsia pink blanket to stave off the cold spring day, our tour guide Ivan took us around the wine safari, also known as a vineyard tour.
“Cabernet Sauvignon,” he said “is like a lion. The lion is the king of the jungle. When Cabernet is young, it is aggressive on the palate; as it becomes older, the tannins calm down, just like when a lion ages.”
Hmm, a bit tenuous, but I see what you’re driving at Ivan and I’ve never heard a wine compared to a wild animal before. It’s refreshing for a wine journalist who has seen enough stainless steel tanks and barrels to last a life time.
Sauvignon Blanc…which of the Big 5 safari animals would it be? The white rhino, of course. The link was fresh green grass: the rhino eats it; the wine smells like it.
Cabernet Franc is apparently like an elephant because they both have thick skin and you can keep the wine for a very long time. Warwick does a single varietal Cab Franc, a relative rarity in South Africa, but I couldn’t see any relation to Dumbo or Nelly.
The buffalo is another safari favourite but it’s unpredictable and wild hence the comparison with Pinotage. And last but not least Merlot gets likened to a leopard – because it’s smooth. For wine connoisseurs, it might seem a bit silly but the wine industry needs a bit of fun injected into its rear end. It’s a great way to educate the consumer, link the wine trade with a successful tourism industry - and make wine seem less elitist.