A talented workaholic who displays engaging humility. A winemaker who, according to a colleague, gives new meaning to the word dedication. These characteristics became evident during a chat with KWV’s head winemaker, Johann Fourie, who has been with the Paarl wine and spirits giant since 2006 and heads a team of five – all of whom have good reason to celebrate this month.

KWV’s transformation from conservative co-op with a stranglehold on the industry to a company where BEE shareholders control more than 60 percent of shares is a well-documented story.

The parallel increase in quality of its numerous brands of wines and brandies is perhaps less widely publicised, but best illustrated by the fact that KWV was voted best producer for the third successive year at the Veritas Awards. Four double gold and 15 gold medals makes an impressive tally, and the winning streak started with gold for the 2013 Classic chenin blanc at the Michelangelo wine awards a month earlier – a satisfying victory for a wine that costs R38.

There are three brands of KWV wines for consumers to contemplate: the entry level Classic Collection, the Cathedral Cellar range and the flagship The Mentors labels.

Taking chenin blanc and chardonnay as examples, I asked Fourie to expound on the philosophy behind each range. The affordable Classic chenin and chard are high-volume wines, where a mere 5 percent of KWV grapes is augmented by those from the producer’s partners – in the chenin’s case, from Paarl, Wellington and Malmesbury. The goal is to produce clean, fresh and fruity whites at palatable prices.

Cathedral Cellar is a range that showcases premium examples of a South African cultivar, produced from a blend of single variety vineyards from several regions.

“We are fortunate to be able to source grapes from Lutzville to Hermanus,” says Fourie. “So, we find structure in one area, fruit in another, while a third region supplies the mouth-feel component that is so important.”

All of this is evident in the elegant, citrussy 2012 chardonnay which now sports Veritas gold, while chenin fans will savour the 2012 – a fine balance of aromatic fruit with citrussy zestiness and subtle wood.

The Mentors wines are simply, says Fourie, the stars of the vintage, showcasing cultivars from a single region, judged to be the best.

Elgin supplied the chardonnay for the current vintage, but if the next harvest does not meet the standard, the wine will not be bottled. These are “outstanding wines with personality, made in the style we believe in”. The Veritas judges clearly concurred.

Muratie’s curry evens the score

Which wine with which curry? A light-hearted contest between two wine producers recently saw two versions of our indigenous Cape Malay curries being presented to diners, accompanied by wines from their cellars.

The historic Muratie estate vied with Dutoitskloof Wines from the Breedekloof, each presenting tender lamb curries. The latter paired its sweet and sour creation with the cellar’s 2013 Beaukett, a semi-sweet blend of muscat, chenin and gewürztraminer; an affordable wine that stood up well to the spicy meat.

Muratie teamed its hot curry with its flagship Lourens Campher 2012, an off-dry blend of chenin, sauvignon blanc, verdelho and viognier. This is a patrician wine that some felt was overpowered by the fiery dish – and could rather enhance a Persian classic like aromatic chicken with pomegranates and walnuts.

But it was Kim Melck’s curry that won the day, evening the score after Dutoitskloof took top honours last year. –

Source: Weekend Argus – iol Lifestyle – Myrna Robins