Glow-in-the-dark wine labels. Whatever next!

Cathy looks at one of the quirkiest wineries around and tastes their wines.

17 Mar 2011

Competition is fierce in the world of wine. Well-established wineries are resorting to marketing themselves for the first time ever and all new kids on the block are required to work twice as hard to find themselves an edge.
Lucky for new wine brand, Boer & Brit then, that they have twice the brain power and at least four times the initiative, chutzpah and pizzazz as other wineries! I say twice the brain power because this is a partnership between two university friends – Stefan Gerber (the Boer bit) and Alex Milner (the Brit bit) – who studied viticulture and oenology together at Stellenbosch. At some point – and doubtless over a couple of glasses of wine - they discovered that they both had famous great-great grandfathers (President Paul Kruger and Field Marshall French respectively) who 110 years ago fought bitterly over the right to own the Cape. Sinking their past differences in a few vats of wine seemed a good idea and so the Boer & Brit wines were born.
But having a catchy name isn’t enough these days so Stefan and Alex have taken it a little further and injected a little quirkiness throughout their whole range of wines. With their retro-labels, unusual names and hilarious tasting notes, they remain best-known for their ‘Bob’s your Uncle’ range which is sold in 500ml brown beer bottles sealed with a crown cap - if you haven’t read our Zef Vin-atics review, click here.
So where do they go from here? Well, following in the footsteps of one of the most original people in wine, Californian Randall Grahm, they are about to launch a new range with a ‘glow-in-the-dark’ label. The Trans Karoo duo of Pinotage and Chenin commemorate the daily express train which ran from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Made in an old school style from ancient, low-yielding Swartland vines, these are limited edition wines made for the love of tradition and heritage, not necessarily for profit. Sales manager Leon Coetzee was reluctant to give away too much on other plans (although I think we might see some more family members joining the range of wines soon), “But basically, we just want to get through our first year, deal with nice people and get folk into wine any way we can.” A good ambition, and surely both the President and the Field Marshall would approve of that.
I tasted through a few of their wines. These are my favourite:
Bob’s Your Uncle White Brew NV            R20 cellar door
A ‘secret combination of lekker grapes’ this is simply a very decent and surprisingly interesting blend of several different varietals – I suspect some Chenin is involved but for the rest – it could be anything! It’s dry without taking the skin off your teeth, fruity without being overly-concentrated and has a nice, balanced acidity and freshness. You could pay a lot more for something far worse than this!
Suikerbossie White 2010             R35 cellar door
A blend of Chenin and Viognier, this is a nicely-balanced combo of crisp,crunchy-apple Chenin with lavish and luscious Viognier in a yellow/green fruit melange. Quite a lot of bang for your buck here with a decent amount of concentration and a good length.
The Field Marshall 2009                                R65 cellar door
This is their Rhone-ish blend – usual suspects of Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache & Carignan but also Tinta Amarela – an offbeat Port grape which also makes very fine still wines as well. Interesting flavours of spice and ham with some red fruits and a slight herbal quality to it. Needs food, but hey - don’t we all??
The General 2009            R65 cellar door
Very quirky- this is a Bordeaux blend but minus the two most popular components of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot! This is Petit Verdot, Cab Franc and Malbec and offers a savoury mouthful, quite tannic (that’ll be the large proportion of Petit) but plenty of ripe black fruits as well. Again, a food wine – a big fat steak worked for me.

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