Wine as History and Theatre

Thursday morning might be an unusual time for a wine-tasting. Then again, Haute Cabrière isn’t your usual wine estate.

Words Eugene Yiga. Pictures supplied. 

“My parents created a diamond,” says cellar master and production director Takuan von Arnim. “We’re here to polish it, not change it.”

Indeed, one gets a sense of history during the tour of the cellar, built into a Franschhoek mountain range. It’s not just the family crest, whose colours of red and white correspond to the estate’s main cultivars of pinot noir and chardonnay. It’s also when Takuan points out a chandelier made from 30 bottles of Dom Pérignon. They’re from a celebration his parents had exactly a year (to the hour) after he was born.

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“It’s all about guiding wine to the future without disregarding the past,” he says as we enter the cool barrel maturation cellar, which also functions as a wedding venue. “It’s about finding a structure and sticking to it but not being afraid to play.”

And how refreshing to see that he lives up to his beliefs, not just in his range of colourful quips that would make rosé blush, but also in adding an element of theatre to the experience of drinking wine.

For example, with sabre in hand, he tells of how Napoleon and his troops used to drink before battle in case they didn’t survive. Then they’d drink after battle to celebrate still being alive. And then… slice! Off with her head! And by ‘her’ I mean a bottle of fresh, crisp Pierre Jourdan Brut.

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“We forget how fortunate we are to have a glass of wine in this day and age,” Takuan says as we take our seats for an outdoor three-course lunch. “It’s about sharing wine and enjoying it with food. It’s about magic, not technicalities. And it’s about having fun.”

Haute Cabrière is on Franschhoek Pass (Lambrecht Street) in Franschhoek. Call 021 876 3688, email [email protected], or visit www.cabriere.co.za.

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