THE NAKED TRUTH ABOUT VINO

ESTATE PASSIONATE ABOUT NATURE AND WINEMAKING

WHAT has wine got to do with ducks mingling in a vineyard with men and women harvesting grapes while stark naked – all without care in the world about society’s sensibilities?

Well, this Adam and Eve scene is not quite a re-enactment of the biblical Garden of Eden but one might encounter when visiting the boutique Avondale wine estate in the Cape winelands.

If all this is a bit confusing, it was to me as well. But that was until I met and had the chance to ask a fully dressed Avondale owner Johnathan Grieve about naked frolicking in his vineyards. This was at a tasting of Avondale wines at the newly opened Michel Bistro in Birnam last week. Good to know that Michel Morand, formerly of Gatrille’s and five-star Auberge Michel, is back in town with another gourmet offering.

“Naked” winemaking, is this a new scene? I asked Grieve between the food-and-wine pairing courses.

No, Grieve said, it’s all about embracing ancient farming by practicing organic and biodynamic ways of winemaking while also using modern science.

So, instead of using chemicals which harm the environment anyway) to kill intruding insects in the vineyards, his winemaking team lets the ducks do the job. What about the naked harvesting teams – a scene which has adorned Avondale brochures until recently?

Grieve laughs, saying the idea was to show how the estate had gone back to the old ways of farming by allowing nature to takes its course in the vineyards and cellar. “If you happen to visit Avondale nowadays, you will find our harvesting teams half-dressed instead.”

Drinking wines from the estate, one is immediately struck by a distinct, seamless palate – almost pristine – and one peculiarly lush and laden with nature’s goodness.

It is testimony to the estate’s unmistakable passion for balance between nature and winemaking, which translates into discernible style of high quality, elegant wines.

Notching between four and five stars in Platter’s in South African Wine Guide is pas for the course for this estate nestled in Paarl.

With prices averaging anything upwards R100 for a white wine and up to R1 300 for their flagship red wine, Navitas, the wines definitely appeal connoisseurs high up in the food chain.

The range consists – among other wines – of Armilla, a sparkling wine made in the Methode Cap Classique tradition; Camissa rosé with a hint of muscat grape on the nose; Cyclus, a delicately balanced white blend; Anima, a chenin blanc; La Luna, a classic red blend; Samsara, a spicy Syrah; Navitas, a big and bold red blend with herbaceous and utterly elegant palate finish.

La Luna, priced at R336 a bottle, is a real stunner and favourite.

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