FOR years wine producers outside the Stellenbosch area of origin have looked with varying degrees of envy on the success of the Wine Route. It was founded in 1971 and now comprises five sub- regions in which more than 200 producers are represented.
Other areas have tried to compete but with little success. The Stellenbosch farms, after all, are virtually an extension of tourist-laden Cape Town. The Klein Karoo route, which is the closest to us in the Eastern and Southern Cape, has put on a brave show with a demarcated route of its own. Karusa and iconic little Herold remain among my favourites, but Stellenbosch still rules.
Now there's another pretender on the scene. Producers around the village of Elgin, officially part of the Elgin, Walker Bay, Bot Rivier area of origin, are all set to provide some stiffer competition and have launched a wine route of their own.
Sixteen of them have committed (among them Highlands Road Wines, which is jointly owned by Port Elizabeth lawyer Michael White) and the big launch of Elegantly Elgin is set for October 6. On that date, and on one weekend every month thereafter, cellars will be opened to the public and one theme will be promoted by all 16 participants. In October it will be Flagship Wines – Celebration of Cool Climate Wines, in November sauvignon blanc will feature, in December chardonnays take the stage and in January the theme will be aromatic blends.
Tastings and advice from the pros will be fundamental to the exercise, so here's a chance for us enthusiastic amateurs to amble down the Garden Route from time to time to improve our education.
Note, however, that these cool climate wines tend to be white, so don't expect too much in the way of reds even though top quality pinot noir and cabernet are produced in the region.
And so to the wine of the week. In my constant search for an appropriate beverage to accompany curry I have tended to go for off-dry whites and fruity merlots and shiraz.
But for the devil of it I chilled a promo bottle of Du Toits Kloof sav-blanc 2012 last week and matched it with a chicken vindaloo at Royal Delhi.
Nice one. I was expecting conflict, but the gooseberry and litchi plus the tell-tale lemongrass and slightly higher sugar (7.8g/l) picked up well on the punchy vindaloo spices with delicious results.
At around R30/bottle it's well worth a try.