AS 2024 hoves into view it’s not too soon to begin reflecting on this year. It’s had some moments, I tell you, but on the plus side of the ledger is my discovery of Alvi’s Drift wines. Technically, they discovered me and began sending me some excellent wines, beginning with the Signature Viognier back in April. The 2021 vintage was awarded a Gold medal at the 2022 Viognier Challenge, with the wine also being the highest-scoring wine in the overall line-up.
This is but one example of the multi award-winning range of wines. Next up was the CVC, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay with which I am besotted and frequently recommend. Then came two Cap Classiques: Brut and Brut Nature. I have not drunk these yet but I was invited to a dinner hosted by Alvi’s Drift at Beluga, where we tasted them along with several other wines.
I used to love Beluga when it was in Green Point and one of the first places to offer half price sushi thus ruining full price sushi for everyone forever. It’s now in the cruise terminal at Makers Landing in the V&A Waterfront and very fancy and glitzy with a stunning view of the harbour. Being a function we were accommodated in a private dining area with a set menu from which to choose. Despite the waiter’s enthusiasm and promise of “phenomenal” dishes, those of us at our the end of the table were largely underwhelmed by the food, which is a pity. I mean, it wasn’t awful but it wasn’t great either. This isn’t a restaurant review. however, and the wines were the stars of the night. At each place setting was a boxed bottle of the Brut or Brut Nature and my friend and I are still kicking ourselves for forgetting to take ours. At least I do still have at home.
We were welcomed with Alvi’s Drift’s two sparkling wines (not Cap Classiques) – Brut Rosé and Blanc de Blanc. I loved the latter and curtailed my Cap Classique snobbery. We were wonderfully entertained and informed about the origins and making of Cap Classiques by Junel van der Merwe (a Cape Wine Master of international renown and a host as sparkling and gracious as the wine), and two guests got to sabrage (I’ll post a fun pic on Instagram; the camera has a way of capturing facial expressions in a moment).
This is her biog: “Starting in KWV [in South Africa], Junel rapidly rose up in the industry, becoming one of the Cape Wine Academy’s first lecturers. She has also been formally appointed by embassies abroad to represent South Africa and South African wine and was inaugurated into the prestigious l’Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne as Chevalier in 2013 and then as Commandeur de Bordeaux in 2014 for her outstanding contribution to the industry. Presently, Alvi’s Drift is honoured to have Junel acting on their behalf as international brand ambassador, carrying the brand name worldwide.”
The “we” to which I refer above included fans and friends of Alvi’s Drift; if you join its mailing list, you’ll get notified of future events like this. There is one planned for Johannesburg on 9 November, and socials and the website will keep you updated.
Here’s some more information (supplied) about Alvi’s Drift and a few of the wines we sampled. At one point, I asked the woman pouring if all the wines win awards. She paused briefly and said “yes”, so I’m not the only one who thinks they are fabulous.
Alvi’s Drift is located in the mountains in the cooler southern reaches of wine ward of Scherpenheuve in the fertile Breede River Valley, a family-owned winery which tells the story of dedication, perseverance and passion for their craft.
Family owned and managed for three generations; the Van Der Merwe family is dedicated to the art of crafting fine wine. More than that, as WIETA (Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trading Association) members, Alvi and Junel Van der Merwe are deeply committed to their role as custodians of the land. As such, the family employs sustainable farming practices that enables them to give back to the land what is taken from it.
Alvi van der Merwe is a third generation winemaker and qualified and practising medical doctor. He oversees wine creation of the wines at Alvi’s Drift, bringing a unique perspective borne of this combination of passion and medical background. Moreover, Alvi’s penchant for innovation and his vision to making high-quality wines is what continues to drive Alvi’s Drift’s success internationally.
More information here. Fun fact heavy with significance this week: In 1928, South Africa took note when a young, unknown rugby player, Albertus Viljoen van der Merwe – “Alvi” to his friends and the current Alvi’s oupa – made history by scoring the first try in history against the All Blacks on African soil.
THE WINES (some of them)
- Sparkling Brut Rosé: This vibrant, salmon pink-hued sparkling wine presents notes of crisp, green apple with hints of strawberry, watermelon and pomegranate on the nose, following through to the palate. Supported by a lively mousse, it is a clean, fresh and unpretentious wine with a dry finish that offers subtle hints of watermelon and candyfloss. Perfect for summertime enjoyment and celebrations of all kinds.
- Brut Cap Classique: Youthful in character with a refreshing bouquet of citrus, creamy lemon and just a hint of almond, this refined sparkling wine boasts a lively, finely textured mousse. The wine’s crisp acidity bursts onto the palate with a lovely, creamy texture, delivering a good, mid-palate depth with a deliciously lingering aftertaste. An excellent companion to grilled fish or chicken, this dry sparkling wine is best served as a welcoming drink alongside canapés filled with smoked salmon, or raspberry-baked Brie.
- Brut Blanc de Blanc: Pale straw-coloured with lime-green hues, this vibrant wine has an intense attack, with lots of lively bubbles racing from the depth of the glass towards the rim. It boasts a charming, fresh palate with zippy acidity and fresh fruit following through, with the bubbles creating an exciting explosion in the mouth. This wine was created for celebrating good times, great friendships and special moments.
- 221 Chenin Blanc: This bright wine boasts intense, forthcoming aromas of tropical fruit, nectarine and blossom honey, with subtle notes of vanilla. The palate is creamy, with luscious fruit following through, while the refreshing acidity is beautifully balanced with gentle tannins, leading to a lingering fresh, lemony finish. Enjoy this wine immediately, or allow it to mature for another three years. (note from me: Alvi’s Drift Chenins are *chef’s kiss*.)
- Brut Nature Cap Brut Nature Cap Classique: This bone-dry Cap Classique wine boasts a charming, gold-leaf colour, with lively bubbles racing to the rim to form a delicate, fine crown of mousse. It has an intense, complex and appealing nose with aromas of baked brioche and lemon cream, with hints of walnut and nougat. Lively on the palate, the mousse is chalky dry with notes of nut and stone fruit following through to a full mid-palate, lingering long for a refreshing creamy-lemon finish. It is a zero dosage wine.
- Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc: Star bright with a pale lemony colour, this wine boasts a forthcoming nose with intense notes of peach, blossom and lemon. These aromas follow through on the palate, with fresh, crisp acids perfectly in balance with firm tannins. The wine’s fruit aromas open beautifully to linger on the mid palate. An elegant, well-rounded wine with a structure that will support ageing for at least up to eight years and beyond.
- Albertus Viljoen Icon Range Bismarck: An opulent, full-bodied-yet-elegant wine with great complexity, exhibiting deep, dark black fruit, ripe mulberry, spice, vanilla and just a hint of white pepper. This wine showcases well-rounded, velvety tannins with a long-lingering aftertaste and has the potential to mature for at least 8-10 years. This wine takes its name from Bismarck, the farm’s beloved Great Dane and self-appointed custodian of the cellar. A friendly welcoming party to anyone visiting the farm, Bismarck commanded respect as the undisputed alpha male and leader of the pack. With this wine, his legacy is honoured. Awards for this flagship blend of Shiraz 39% | Pinotage 23% | Cabernet Sauvignon 16% |Grenache 9% | Petit Verdot 6% | Durif 4% | Viognier 3% include the 2021 Great Gold Catavinum World Wine & Spirits Competition Spain; 2021 Top 100 National Wine Challenge & Top 100; Double Platinum National Wine Challenge & Top 100; 2021 Shiraz SA Challenge Top 6 Shiraz Blends; 2021 Great Gold International Wine & Spirits Awards Spain; and 2021 Gold Veritas Awards.
- Reserve Range Muscat Nectarinia 2017: This delectable natural dessert wine boasts a velvety mouthfeel with a lift of zesty freshness and a sweetness that’s beautifully balanced with its energising acidity. The wine’s luminous amber hue reflects both the perfect ripeness of the grapes, and five years spent developing in French oak barrels. This remarkable wine boasts a profusion of intense raisin, fig and honey aromas with notes of dried yellow peach, deliciously enveloped in hints of mixed spice. After crushing, prior to fortification, grapes (100% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains) are left on skins to allow for the full extraction of crystallised sugar in dried berries. Thereafter, wine is matured in old oak barrels for 60 months.