I’m a garagiste’, I enjoy wine and I guide many wine tours in the Cape Winelands. Without a doubt my favourite winery is Annandale. Many people ask why I am so enthusiastic about this cellar. Well for a start, it is housed in an old historic buildi
ng that was built in the late 1600’s. It is beautiful and peaceful here and it as a very small intimate destination. Theses days it seems to me that many of the wineries are status symbols of wealthy individuals and corporations. The tasting rooms are enormous, opulent and ostentatious and cost so much to build and maintain that the owners can never honestly hope to make a return on their investment. Annandale is about wine, honesty and character.
And when I talk of character, I am not only referring to the heritage and aesthetic of Annandale but also to the wines produced here and mostly to the owner and winemaker – Hempies du Toit. Hempies in a down-to-earth man with a real passion for making superb wine. His focus is on superb quality wines made in the traditional way without compromise or short-cuts. For this reason he limits his range to a few single-cultivar wines and two blends. You won’t find flash and glitz here to seduce you or distract you from the wine. Tastings are done in a small old cellar. In the summer swallows fly in through the windows to tend their chicks. Hempies’s giant Boerbul dog (Bliksem) or his miniature horse may stroll in to greet you while you taste wines that demand your attention and no one cares how you dress. Hempies believes that good wine deserves long periods of maturation on wood and his Cabernet Sauvignon spends a minimum of 6 years at the farm before he deigns it ready for release. His Shiraz spends a minimum of 4 years in barrel and is so famous that much of it is normally sold before it is bottled.
Hempies recently hosted me and a group of VIP’s for a private wine tasting. I consider all my guests to be VIPs but let me know whether you can recognise any of these . . .