Thank God it’s raining again
South Africa started fascinating us two years ago. We tasted a lot of different kinds of Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, then searched, selected and one of our favourites became the Painted Wolf winery, which was founded by Jeremy Borg and his wife. Beside the wines, we were also impressed by their views and responsible attitude.
After The Den Pinotage, it only took one more step to fall for the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc. We asked Jeremy about the variety and we also chatted a bit about the most endangered carnivores, the African wild dogs – not to be confused with hyenas – the conservation of which has been his mission for decades.
f we’re talking about South Africa, for white wine it’s Chenin Blanc that first comes to mind. Do you have more serious plans with Sauvignon Blanc in the future?
I’m a Chenin Blanc fanatic. Earlier, the Sauvignon Blanc raw material arrived to us from warmer regions, from Swartland or Paarl. However, in 2019, our second cellar was launched in Cape South Coast, which I think is an excellent region for Sauvignon Blanc. I constantly search for cooler plots like Elgin or the Walker Bay because they are very exciting for the variety.
So far, we’ve heard about Swartland being one of the most important wine regions for Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa. How general is the trend of ‘moving’ to the wine region?
Yes, Swartland was the first region in the country where they planted Sauvignon Blanc, and the oldest plantation is from 1967. This is surprising as it’s always been a hotter region: silky, very mature wines with tropical fruit were born here. In the last few years, more and more younger winemakers are open to windier, cooler wine regions that are more influenced by the ocean, which is Elgin, Walker Bay, Constantia and Darling.
Talking about challenges, what’s the greatest task of the next couple of years?
In the last four years, we were struggling with drought that affected the quantity of the grapes, and also the earnings of the grape growers. A lot of the vineyard owners have switched to orange and blueberry growing that appeared to be a lot more profitable.
Thank God it’s raining again! We’re making such distinctive, unique wines with the help of which we can pay such a fair price to the grape growers while also supporting the conservation of indigenous wildlife.
What’s it like making wine and dealing with African wild dogs at the same time?
Sometimes it’s funny. Once my wife, Emma, was on a business trip to England. We held a tasting for our friends and when she entered the room, the only puppy in the place got so scared of her that it ran away and hid somewhere. Our friends were shocked, as animals love Emma. However, on that day, she’d come straight from a South African sanctuary and the puppy was not very fond of the wild dog smell on her shoes.
Am I right that word Den on the label is also connected to African wild dogs. What does it mean exactly?
Den is the name of the place where the wild dog puppies are born. This is the heart of the wild dog community: a comfortable, tranquil surrounding. The Den at ours is the world of good drinkability and vivacious wines. We drink it to have an even more fun time with our family and enjoy the moment with those who are close to us.
What are people most surprised about when they visit you?
We don’t have our own winery. We rent the places from other winemakers, thus we practically make our wines at our friends