If ever I were to be asked to pinpoint a wine, which changed the way, I think and feel about my business it would have to be My Koffer 2011. In fact, I would love to make a movie about this wine. In the meantime, I felt it at least deserves a newsletter dedicated to its story.
The story of this wine starts way back in 1994 when I, still a student at the time, walked into Western Cape Liquor Store in Stellenbosch and bought my first bottle of Tassenberg for R3,50. Not only was this the first bottle of wine I ever bought with my own money, but it was also the first I finished on my own. In the years to follow, I drank a lot of Tassenberg to put it mildly.
All that drinking gave me ample time for reflection and I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t particularly fond of the whole wine, but there was one flavour component in the wine I loved. That flavour component reminded me of fresh strawberries. Important to note is that I’m not referring to a strawberry jam flavour, but rather to that smell you get whilst walking through ripe strawberry fields – a sweet, green, wholesome sort of freshness.
My first winemaking job was at the then capital city of Tassenberg – Eersterivier Wine Cellar, Stellenbosch. We literally made hundreds of thousands of liters of Tassenberg. This is where the light went on for me and I identified my mysterious fresh strawberry component as Cinsaut. Now I’m talking about the old-style pre-1998 Tassenberg, which, as some of you might remember from your Matie years, was worlds apart from the Tassenberg you get nowadays. Or that is how I remember it anyway…
So this is where my fascination with Cinsaut really started. Ever since then I’ve had the dream to produce a Cinsaut that tastes exactly like that specific fresh strawberry component I fell in love with. And during all my adventures through vineyards and cellars in the past 8 years working on interesting BLANKbottle wines, I had many opportunities to taste great Cinsaut – but NEVER found exactly what I had in mind. Then someone told me about this little vineyard in the Breedekloof.
I had a meeting with the farmer and spent some time in the vineyard. The grapes used to go to a big cooperative winery where these particular grapes had been mixed with other Cinsaut grapes and I therefore could not taste a wine produced from that vineyard alone. So I took the plunge and bought some grapes. For various reasons, Cinsaut is up to date the most difficult varietal I’ve ever had to make a single varietal wine of. Take the picking of the grapes as an example. Cinsaut is known as a varietal that produces lots of grapes per hectare. Selective picking is crucial. I used a team of about 40 women and it took us 2 hours per ton to pick. From there, the grapes went to the winery where I cooled it overnight. I then employed another team of 10 women to sort the berries. Each bunch was taken by hand and all the berries that did not meet a predetermined quality standard were removed and thrown away. We were left with bunches that looked like grade A export quality table grapes. Besides the fact that Cinsaut has huge bunches it also has massive berries. You therefore have much less skin versus juice content and therefore end up with a lighter coloured (red) wine. The grapes fermented in small open-top French oak barrels and were aged in the same barrels for a year before being bottled. The wine sells for R250 a bottle, by far the most highly priced wine I’ve ever produced or sold.
This is a weird wine, and saying that this wine is very different to what you are used to would be a huge understatement. Firstly it is, typically Cinsaut, light in colour. It has a totally different fruit spectrum – no black fruit flavours reminiscent of plums and blackberries, but rather things like cherries and strawberries. It has a feminine elegance to it with a huge amount of personality. In fact, come to think of it, it reminds me of my 3-year-old daughter: a surprisingly intense personality for such a sweet, elegant little frame!
I made this wine in fond memory of old-style Tassenberg with all the emotions connected to a first love. This is “My TASSENBERG”, “My TAS” – BLANKbottle My Koffer 2011 – a suitcase full of memories.

E-mail: pieter@blankbottle.co.za
Telephone: +27 (0)82 872 8658

Please note

Due to the many small batches of wines we make, availability changes on a daily basis. Please email aneen@blankbottle.co.za if you’d like to order any of our wines or if you are looking for a specific wine, and she will reply with a list of wines now selling. If the wine you are looking for is sold out, we could suggest some alternative excitement and/or we could also put together a unique selection for you.

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