I buy grapes from a farm in Wellington for one of my wines, Moment of Silence. Once you get to know the people of these BOVLEI farms, you sometimes stumble upon interesting stories. One such story is about this one block of vines growing on the lower Groenberg slopes, vines the farm workers refer to as Professor Kukurowitz. This block of grapes is in a way a landmark block – you either drive just past Kukurowitz, or turn left at Kukurowitz, or look just to the right of Kukurowitz etc. In 2010, for the first time, I asked one of the guys working in the vineyards who exactly this Professor is?
And how glad am I that I asked. I bought the grapes and bottled my first Professor in 2013. At the time, I wanted to do some proper research to verify the story of the Professor and to try and identify the cultivar. You see, no one knows what cultivar it is. My first stop in my research was the University of Stellenbosch. On my way there, just as I was about to walk out the door, my wife asked me if I was sure I wanted to know the truth? It could ruin the story?
So I never did go to the University. And this is the story. The truth? I have no idea.
Long long ago, 52 years to be exact, a Professor from the University of Stellenbosch traversed the Western Cape of South Africa in search of great vineyards. Once he had identified some, he then selected plant material. From that he reproduced little vines at the University, made wine from the grapes and ultimately selected the best of what he had. He then went to farmers in different climatical conditions (terroir) and asked them to plant little vineyards as experiments. The slopes of the Groenberg in Wellington was one of these sites. And then he died. Before disclosing to anyone what he had planted! So for the next 49 years all the grapes from that vineyard went to a large Cooperative winery in Wellington and disappeared into tons of Chenin blanc.
Now, if I stumble upon a story like this, I will do my utmost to get it into a bottle. And that is what I did. It sells for R115 a bottle and was just now rewarded 4 stars out of 5 in the 2015 Platter wine guide. This is what they had to say about the wine.
“Honours founder of 50+ year old Wellington chenin vineyard. 2013 raises bar on 2012 with rich & silky layers of spiced apple, greengage & almond balanced by freshening citrus thread.”