OWNING a wine farm is a dream for many, who leave assorted careers to follow their passion and make wine, but there can surely be few who started off chokka fishing and named their farm and their wine after their favourite fishing boat. Raka owner Piet Dreyer did just that – naming the farm after a vessel that he'd cleverly painted black to avoid endless repaints due to sprays of squid ink.
Naming of things has been quite a challenge for this family business, with numerous ideas for wine names having had to be tossed because someone else had them first.
When his name for his now-flagship Shiraz was already taken, Dreyer threw up his hands and said "that's the story of my life!" – leading to the multi-award-winning wine being called Biography.
Raka is very much a family business, with son Josef the winemaker; another son, Pieter, the viticulturist; and PE-based Gerhard running the fishing fleet.
A decade on, the estate outside Stanford has a clutch of accolades to its credit. In this year's Platter's, both the 2009 Cabernet Franc and 2010 Biography Shiraz have five stars, while the Spliced red blend is rated "exceptionally drinkable and well-priced".
The Raka range is a great example of wines that deliver quality well above their price.
Platter's is right on the money about the Spliced 2010 (R45) – its blend of Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Mourvedre delivers layers of complexity and flavour in a medium-bodied, easy-drinking wine.
The Sauvignon Blanc, also R45, is light but not lightweight, well-balanced and crisp, with fruity and green flavours (think asparagus and figs) and a good finish.
While the Spliced blend differs yearly, depending on what the season has produced best, the Bordeaux-blend Quinary (R90) sticks more closely to a "recipe", which must surely be a closely guarded secret, because the wine is just superb.
The 2008 tasted recently is a deep, jewel red, a big mouthful of complex fruit and woodiness, definitely built to last.
The 2009 Biography Shiraz (R94) well deserves its flagship status. From a strong, spicy nose it moves into subtle, complex flavours and is an outstanding example of the cultivar.
These are just four of Raka's extensive range, which is well worth exploring.
Raka wines are available at Spar Tops at Figtree and Humerail, and Preston's Main Road Walmer, Westbourne Road, and Summerstrand. Prices in this article are from Preston's.