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Kevin in the Kruger: how cricket great KP is raising funds for conservation with one of SA's top wine labels

Cricket, conservation and Chenin - Dan Nicoll drinks for a good cause.

by: Dan Nicholl | 30 May 2019

Is there really a Douglas Green? As in is he, or was he, an actual person? Did the eponymous character really exist, or was he just the creation of a room full of creatives, conjured up over ethically brewed coffee and focus group feedback? 

Which brings me to Ken Forrester…   

Ken Forrester is a label entrenched in the South African wine landscape. It’s a champion of Chenin Blanc in particular, but comprises a broad range of wine that finds its way to markets around the world. But if you thought it was simply a good name for a wine brand, then you’d be wrong. For Ken Forrester does indeed exist; a jolly, smiling, department store Santa of a man, and he makes for most charming company, particularly while camping out in the Kruger National Park in support of a famous cricketer’s new passion for conservation.

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The Forrester wine brand lent its considerable weight to the Legacy Experience last week, the bespoke wildlife escape that combines intimate lessons in conservation’s challenges (headlined by the war on rhino poaching) with some impressive fundraising.

The event was conceived, and is hosted, by Kevin Pietersen. Inspired by a trip to the bush with fellow cricketers Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel six years ago, Kevin has become an evangelical voice for rhino conservation around the world. His National Geographic documentary screened to great acclaim in Australia. His ‘Man And Beast’ podcast tops the BBC download charts. His commercial partnerships have brought luxury brands into the rhino conservation game. And his Legacy Experience, now two years in, is having a significant impact.

As well as creating a new army of global advocates for conservation, the Legacy Experience raised a considerable sum of money. It was headlined by a Charlotte van Dyk elephant sculpture – a mighty near-life sized piece from a young artist with the gift of bringing life to bronze – that was auctioned for $100 000. I was more partial to the Ken Forrester lot, though: an entire barrel of red, blended to your preference, but with the recommendation of following the Rhone-style example of the estate’s Gypsy.

Together with Kevin – whose legacy as a cricketer will be surpassed by that of a champion of conservation – Ken and I toasted the success of a wonderful week, of terrific memories, and of brighter days ahead for rhino. The wine – as usual – was lovely, but even more so when sipped beneath a starlit Kruger night, surrounded by a natural splendour that has much-needed guardians in people like Kevin Pietersen and Ken Forrester.   

What I’m drinking this week: I suspect I wasn’t the only one desperately sad to see Graham Beck bid farewell to their still wines a few years ago. The Joshua was a red blend I drank happily for years, and The William was bought regularly in memory of my late grandfather, William West. However, Erika Obermayer – who made wine at Graham Beck – has her own label, and her newest range throws back to some old Beck favourites. Sauvignon Blanc from Darling recalls the Pheasants Run, and there’s a reinvented play on The Joshua. Keep an eye out for a supple, elegant, poised Syrah that might surpass the five-star Cabernet Sauvignon she already produces. Erika is having a great deal of fun making wine on her own terms, and the results are delightful.

Want to see what else Dan Nicholl has been drinking? Watch his latest episode of Dan Really Likes Wine

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