Words from Erl

When wine-making in the southwest Capes Region was first mooted it was recommended that only two grape varieties should be considered; Cabernet Sauvignon and Rhine Riesling. At the time there was a Shiraz glut and a vine pull scheme in progress in South Australia.

Tasting Nebbiolo in the village of Barolo in 2011 brought tears to the eyes. I saw characters in the wine I had never seen despite the fact that I had been making wine from Nebbiolo for twelve years. Our Nebbiolo is no slouch. At a retrospective in late 2016 we thought the 2000 to 2003 vintages quite lovely, perhaps the most outstanding wines we have ever made albeit very different to the Barolo that you find in Piedmont.

I have climbed the Hill of Hermitage in summer, amidst vines that have been in cultivation for 1000 years, each vine tied to a stake with strands of straw. I have drunk Merlot over lunch at Petrus in Autumn and Riesling in the Rheingau in September when the vines are golden...

But, I don’t get excited by doing old stuff. By 1978 I could drink wines made from those very early plantings of Cabernet and Riesling. Nobody knew at that time what would be good or great. I wanted to find out.

That’s why we are ‘unusual’ at Happs. I am the sort of fellow who likes to wake in the morning with a project in mind.