Confessions of a White Glove Chaser 2019: 60% Cabernet franc with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon - all from the Helderberg. This is a story of very creative and budget-friendly wine-making that goes back to 2013 when Pieter Walser was a little strapped for cash. It's a remarkable wine - graceful yet with terrific concentration, velvety with a savoury, earthy touch making it very complex. For me this is reminiscent of a New World St Estephe. This certainly punches above it's weight.
For a start, you have to realise that at the time (2013) I didn't have a budget for a vineyard consultant. So I was forced to be creative. Strategic vineyard-site selection is where all wine begins. I was mostly focussed on many unusual varietals of which there were very little on offer, so in a way it made it easy to choose a site. You take what you can get. But I wanted to start making Bordeaux - stuff like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The Helderberg has many plantings but I didn’t have a clue how to separate the chaff from the wheat. And no money to pay someone to do it for me. So this one particular day I was driving past a vineyard and saw something strange: the picking team was wearing white surgical gloves! I pulled off the road and asked the pickers who they were picking for. At the time there were rumours going round about these guys and I knew that they were spending obscene amounts of cash on local and international consultants in areas like viticulture and soil science - basically terroir fundi's. Their ultimate goal: to sift through the huge amount of Bordeaux vineyards on offer to pick only the very best. So I asked the farmer if I could buy the grapes as close as possible to the piece going to the White Gloves. This is my confession about how I started chasing the White Gloves. Where they bought, I bought as close to them as possible. Sometimes right next to them. It was that simple. My creative low-budget strategy.