I’m not sure what my expectations of The Giant Periwinkle where when we got invited for a wine tasting at their boutique winery in Baardskeerderbos. I guess I was thinking it would be a nice day out and a great way to spend some time with Flippie without the kids in tow while drinking wine, one of my favorite pastimes. However, I was totally wrong. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely day out, but if you enjoy and know your wines and are always seeking out that winery that makes something just a little different, where the tasting experience is just that, an experience – then you HAVE to put The Giant Periwinkle on the top of your list.
Flippie ended up having a stomach bug so it was just Lieben and I that set off to a hidden wee valley at the back of Baardskeerdersbos about 10 mins drive from De Uijlenes. Winding uphill through vineyards, olive trees and farmland we found ourselves at a simple farm store that has been tastefully and unpretentiously turned into a tasting room and winery – every bit you would expect from a boutique winery that is all about what is inside the glass. And with a view overlooking the farms below and the southern most tip of Africa, somewhere in the far distance, you don’t need anything more than what you find at The Giant Periwinkle tasting room.
We were lucky to have The Giant Periwinkle wine maker Pierre Rabie at the tasting and what I thought was going to be a very low key tasting, turned into an epic wine class, 101. Pierre has wine running through his veins and discovered his love of the art at the tender age of 9, when he helped his Oupa in the Nuy Vallei make wine. Although he is a full time Advocate in Cape Town, he has never been able to shake the wine and soil calling him and now spends most of his off -time here in this hidden valley, somewhere on the foot of Africa. We also fleetingly got to meet Pierre’s partner in crime, Robert Stelzner. Robert has an air of business about him but he still manages to pop in with a smile when there is a tasting going on. You can see that the balance of both Robert and Pierre makes for a winning combination for TGP.
Lieben is the De Uijlenes GM and has a professional wine background and wine knowledge from his experience in restaurants and lodges, and along with Pierre’s passion for the TGP wines, I learnt a massive amount of how much the climate in this distinct area of South Africa can influence the notes and flavors of the wines.
With such a different micro climate here in this area of the Western Cape, one you won’t find anywhere else in South Africa, the Savignon Blanc, Pinotage and Syrah grapes gown here produce a wine that has distinct characteristics that you won’t find from any other producers of these grapes grown here in South Africa – TGP wines really are the first and only of it’s kind in South Africa.
The Sauvignon Blanc range took me back home to New Zealand in a bottle. This was the first time I have enjoyed a South African vintage of sauv that shot me straight home to the shingle beaches and dry hills of Hawke’s Bay – but it still had a South African influence. And then the Blanc Fume which is a lightly wooded Sauvignon Blanc took the tasting to new levels of appreciation for what I know now is a thoroughly underrated variety here in South Africa.
Then we went onto the red varietals, this is when the tasting took a turn down a road from pleasant tasting, towards full on schooling. Now, I always saw myself as an avid wine drinker and I thought I knew a wee bit about wine and the process of making wine. I did study with the wine makers in my microbiology classes at uni and we would often meet up at a winery for some tasting and while they were all making notes in their little note books, I would be knocking back the wines, with one ear taking in some of the facts and discussion about the wines. Even though that was many years ago, I did retain a small amount of those memories and felt like I could keep up on the conversation happening around me in the present day tasting.
As the tasting progressed we spoke more about the special climate we have here in this tiny region within the Overberg and how that plays a role in each and every vintage, the next moment Pierre is opening bottles from each vintage so we can compare the wines and taste the distinct difference from each year, and how one year we can taste the father of Pinotage coming through and then the following year you could taste the mother of Pinotage, then the third child took on roots of its own and came out completely different.
Although we were learning so much about the wines from Pierre, it didn’t feel like you were in a classroom situation at all, you felt like you are learning from someone who truly just wants to share his passion, and enjoy your reaction when drinking his art.
The Syrah was the perfect finish to what we thought was the end of the tasting. With pepper and cherry notes which again are distinct to Syrah grown in these soils in this climate, TGP Syrah will only get better with cellaring, if you can wait. Then Pierre told us to bring our glasses and follow him out to the winery, around the back of the tasting room. Here we got to taste the next generation of wines, yet to be bottled, and could see that not only are The Giant Periwinkle wines getting more bold and settling into the originality of Baardskeerdersbos wit each new generation of vintage, but Pierre is learning that in this area, you have to let your wines be what they want to be and not try to influence their true characteristics, rather work with them. Just like our own children.
Tastings are by appointment only. If you are staying at De Uijlenes and wish to do a tasting, let us know and we can arrange it for you. Or, you can get more info on The Giant Periwinkle website here.