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Kanonkop quietly getting on with raising the bar

27 August 2019

Kanonkop is not known for big flashy media events (or any media events for that matter), so I was intrigued to be invited to a tasting & snoek braai at the winery recently.

The farm has been in the Krige family for many years, and this was where Beyers Truter cut his teeth on making some of the best Pinotages in the country, and Jan Boland Coetzee started off his wine-making career. Johann (former WOSA Chairman) and his brother Paul have quietly gotten on with making the right wine at the right price. They were one of the first South African producers to use new wood, and accordingly to Paul, the long queues for the wines at international shows illustrated them hitting the right spot at the right time.

Abrie Beeslaar is the current winemaker, and already has made a name for himself, and slowly but surely adding more interesting and classy wines to the Kanonkop portfolio and just recently also won an ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Award for 2019 for their Kanonkop Pinotage 2015.

Abrie recounted how unusual it is to work for the Kriges - where his instruction from Johann was  'You don't have to win any competitions'', so he just gets on with making the best wines he can with the best grapes he can, which clearly is a recipe for success!  With Kanonkop being the first  (and only so far) South African winery to receive an unprecedented 100 points by UK Wine Master Tim Atkin in 2018 for their 2015 Paul Sauer, so named to honour one of the original owners of the farm, it augurs well for their continued success.

Their iconic Black Label Pinotage (also lauded by Tim Atkin at 96 points) is priced at R1850 from the cellar, showing that South African Wines are not all cheap and cheerful.

Abrie sources the best Pinotage from the Stellenbosch area, and clearly there is not a Pinotage vineyard in the area that he is not aware of! Their Kadette (the young soldier) was first produced in 1985, and this 'ready-for-action' soldier wine is really their business card.  They make 1.8 million bottles of this! - excellent value - Cab and Pinotage. There are very few wineries making this quantity of great wine. Kudos to them.

But Pinotage is certainly not their only area of success.  Stellenbosch is of course Cabernet country - and they produce some very fine Cabernet Sauvignons too!

I am great snoek fan, and so the very casual lunch of ''soet patat'' and simply braai-ed snoek by the family after the tasting was absolutely delicious.