Greg Landman meets the country’s top winemakers and samples their wines.
Three great mountain ranges meet and enfold the town of Tulbagh, which lies cradled in their embrace like an infant in the crook of its mother’s elbow. The only way open is to the south, to the Breede Valley and the distant sea.
Around you spectacular mountains rise, crags and kloofs etched against the vast open sky—the whole feeling is one of peace and calm. The Theuniskraal farm lies some 6kms out of town and you will see sheep grazing peacefully in the fields as you drive there. On the estate itself, flocks of ducks wander through the vines snacking on the snails, keeping the ecological balance. The people here have a relaxed air, a calm generosity of spirit which makes you aware that they are different.
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Andries Jordaan is the third generation of his family to make wine here – in partnership with his cousin Wagner, a viticulturist of note. They both grew up on the farm, it is in their blood. The wines Andries makes are very much fruit-driven, with the minimum of interference in the business of nature. He says, “Mother Nature is one of the major factors influencing the final outcome.”
A winemaker must be able to identify with what SHE is giving him – the good and the bad – and with his knowledge and experience take that to the best possible result. “The farm is famous for its iconic Theuniskraal Cape Riesling which won a Gold Medal in London as long ago as 1947, but the range has been expanded of late as well as getting a spanking new look label. Andries says his major influences were the previous winemakers in his family. He grew up in the cellar, “watching what my grandfather and uncle were doing, helping out from an early age, so I think I basically grew into it without noticing.” The tradition of Theuniskraal, where the family has been since 1927, sits easily on his shoulders.
More about Andries Jordaan…
Andries was born in Ceres Hospital in 1966 into the family that owns Theuniskraal, where his uncle Kobus was the previous winemaker. His mother was a De Wet from a farming family in Bonnievale. Her brother Sterik runs Ashton Co-Op after years at KWV, so these farming/winemaking roots run deep in the family ethos. He and his cousin Wagner are the current Jordaans who run the farm which the widow Jordaan from De Doorns bought for her sons in 1927, the elder of whom was also called Andries. He grew up on the farm and eventually went to Stellenbosch University where he graduated with a BSc in wine and Viticulture.
He has spent almost all his time at Theuniskraal except for a season at Simi Winery in California in 1991. He met his wife Lizbe during his rugby playing days in Ceres. She is a “mother, housewife and teacher and helps a lot in the admin side of the business.” They have three children, two boys of 14 and 8 and a girl (10) who have the privilege of growing up on the farm where the family lives. Andries loves braaing but the cooking is done by Lizbe. They both love watching cooking channels for new ideas. His passion is fishing, at the Breede River mouth, well known for its big cob, in a game park or “somewhere close to nature.” A near-fatal car accident in 1994 left him in a state where doctors said he would never walk again, but his determination to prove them wrong, his great inner spirit, has seen him conquer the naysayers, a credit to his forbears.
Theuniskraal Cape Riesling 2012
Crisp and deliciously dry with plenty of fruit flavours like apple and some citrus, even a grape or two, from a varietal also known as crouchen, so no resemblance to the German Rieslings. Great with fish and chips, even better with sushi. A classic at R32 a bottle.
Nice soft red blend based on Ruby Cabernet and her sister Cab Sav, made to drink young, and remember the golden rule—put reds in the fridge 20 minutes before drinking and take out the whites. Excellent with steak or a boerie roll. Well priced at R34.
Semillon Chardonnay 2011
Unwooded, uncomplicated easy quaffer, a delicate marriage of these two classic varietals, packed with fruit. Delicious with light Thai curries, pork, and cream pasta dishes. R32 at the farm.
+27 (0) 23 230 0688; [email protected]
Words Greg Landman