Today is the release of a current favourite of mine – a wine I’ve never made before. HAAN 2016 – Grenache blanc from 3 different vineyards located in 3 regions – Piekenierskloof, Wellington and the Voor-Paardeberg. Added to these 3 is wine from one of the very first South African plantings of it’s grey-in-skin colour, white-in-juice, mutation brother – Grenache Gris. With wines like these there is no single vineyard-driven story to inspire the label, so I picked an experience close to my heart – something I want to celebrate and cement into my brain for years to come.
June 2016, we were on a family getaway staying in a little farm cottage in Outshoorn. The farmer, an ex-extreme flying-all-over Africa and Asia pilot in his mid 30’s, took over the farm from his dad. With the intention of farming with WAGYU’s, the Japanese super beef cattle, he was forced to get rid of their pet-like Nguni cattle. Each one was named and treated as a person rather than an animal. So it was a very sad trip to the abattoir. In order to keep the memories alive he kept the hides, each one tagged with its original name, and started using some of them in his guest cottages. My wife loved them, in particular one from his private collection – a bright white hide with little black and grey spots, named HAAN. The farmer was willing to sell the hide but of course at a price such a treasure deserves.
As I mentioned in a previous newsletter (“Idiots guide in managing a growing wine business”), cashflow management is my constant companion and at that stage it was not in my favour. So I told the farmer that I might be phoning him in a few weeks. He wrote Pieter and Aneen on the back of the hide, we left and I never phoned back. A few months later, I was taking a Sunday afternoon snooze, when I missed a call. Monday morning I returned it and it was the young farmer on the line. The previous day he had been in Somerset West and was looking for my winery. We had apparently forgotten something on his farm a few months prior. So he dropped it at a restaurant down the road from the cellar called 96 Winery Road. Thinking that it probably were a few left-behind blocks of Lego, my assistant passed by 2 days later to pick it up. And there it was – the white Nguni black and grey spotted HAAN. Super confused I phoned the pilot/farmer. “I was getting tired of the constant struggle of fighting off the trendy Capetonians, all wanting to buy HAAN. You never phoned back, so I decided to give it to you, no cost….” was his answer.
HUUUUGH! I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know people like that still exist…