This weekend's fifth edition of the Swartland Revolution confirmed that the region has established itself as a wine (and food and party) force to be reckoned with. Putting into words what the 500 odd involved experienced this weekend is not easy, and I have thus decided to make it a little bit personal.
Speaking on behalf of (by now) legends such as the Mullineuxs, Eben, Adi and Callie is too big a responsibility - they have said what they felt needed to be said, and it is up to each of us to take from it what we need...
So what you find here is my interpretation of my favourite weekend of the year, in a region where I was born and bred, a region I fled as soon as I could and to which I have very recently returned with much excitement and expectation of even greater things to come.
I have grown up with the event, and I stand in awe of what happens in Riebeek on this weekend every year...
We had decided to change the format of dinner and lunch a little, we were experimenting and we were ready for change... We were going to sit down, with table cloths and chandeliers on Friday, we would lay down on the grass for a pre packed picnic on Saturday and for the first time we looked outside of France for our opening act...
With 3600 glasses packed out and poured, we were ready for Serge Hochar to guide us through his wine. Almost two hours later the crowd still hung on his every word. The man's philosophy, his unique approach, patience and his quirky comments certainly inspired me (and made it clear why he is Adi's idol!).
A few of my favourite quotes:
"Wine was created by God to be the link between him and humans..."
"I started selling only half of my vintages and aging half in my own cellar"
"Taste, don't talk!"
"Nature is very worrying for me today... No vintage is the same. Each day I learn and discover more."
"When I was a boy I was a philosopher and my philosophy was protect the environment"
"I have never understood wine. I still have so much to discover".
"Wine touches the whole world."
"If you come to my winery I open a bottle of '64 for you"
"Take your time, you drink too fast. Enjoy your nose!"
"Wines are made to be opened and enjoyed. Tomorrow the wines may not be here or you may not be here"
"Wine can lead you to know yourself better..."
The lesson here, from a 75 year old who has been making wine for 56 years, was clear. Slow down, give yourself, your life, your wine time and space. Appreciate, enjoy.
After the tasting it was time for dinner. This year we had asked revolutionaries to dress it up a bit to fit with our (tongue in cheek) glitzy but a little bit f-ed up Bootleggers Ball theme.
Mama Cucina waiting staff, all dressed up.
Revolutionaries don't pose for pictures.
Smashing Eben's "winery of the year trophy" hand made by the talented Mrs Mullineux.
After the auction DJ Chopper got the crowd dancing (till the cops stopped us, the third time...)
After dinner the bar opened... The extended Badenhorst Family were launching their Caperitif with four unique cocktails. Read more about it all here.
Eventually I believe I might have physically chased people out of the tent in an attempt to evacuate, at around 3am. Now THAT is a good party...
Saturday morning (luckily) came with Babelas Burgers and good coffee from local Beans about Coffee,
Moderated by David Clarke this tasting was an excellent look at the young polarity in the region. David (originally from Malmesbury) and Craig (a Sharks fan from Gauteng) both showed great interest in investing in the future of Swartland wines and vines. From planting new vineyards to planning for the years ahead and growing solid relationships with local farmers... these guys get it.
David's two wines say it well:
Aristargos - meaning to lead by serving people and Elipidios, which means to have hope and expectations for the future!
Then there was a beer and Southern Smoke snack break (I can't tell you much about it, during this hour we clear the tables of 3600 glasses, 450 tasting sheets / spittoons / waters, and replace it with new ones, filled with wines, numbered 1-8...) before Expert Opinions.
This year we made our Revolutionary big 5 the Experts with Opinions... Adi, Andrea and Chris, Callie and Eben each picked a wine that has inspired their love (for wine) and winemaking and we tasted it next to one of their own wines.
What caught me as significant here was that Chris mentioned that any one of them could have easily picked any of the wines on the table as their inspiration. To see this connection and link between the diverse personalities making such unique wines shows that the Revolution and the region is on the right track.
To hear Eben say that he has to continue to drink wines better than his own to grow and evolve shows that the egos are under control. Being reminded of the 5am braai Adi and Eben sometimes shares shows their commitment to the cause and it is always fun to listen to Callie tell a pointless Afrikaans joke...
And then it was time for lunch. With fantastic picnic packs by the Revolutionary Mums, music by our old(!) favourites Die Baardskeerdersbos Orkes and wines by The Swartland Independent... and a lot of people laying around on big blow up pillows and blankets, some until after the sun had set.
Till next year... I hope you also left exhausted yet satisfied and inspired.
The 2015 edition will be on the weekend of 6/7 November and ticket sales will be announced as soon as we have decided. Give us a break, please ;)
Yours in Swartland gees
All pictures (c) Maree Louw.
Food menus / Tasting sheets coming soon.