SA ‘sporting’ wine route features golf, cricket and rugby

Jacques Kallis
EARLIER THIS YEAR, shortly after former South African golf star David Frost sold his wine farm in Paarl it was announced that Protea cricketers Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher had teamed up with Rietvallei Wine Estate in Robertson to launch a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc under The Innings label – good value wines, with the 2010 Cab at R65 a bottle subsequently garnering a gold medal at the Michelangelo Awards. Some David Frost quaffers are still being made and sold by the Perdeberg Winery at around R30 a bottle, and therein lies a similarity – sporting greats having their own wine label without owning the farm or cellar where it’s made.
Funnily enough, golf legend Gary Player was doing the same thing with the Quoin Rock Winery in Stellenbosch, commemorating his greatest victories with the Major Championship Series – even though he doesn’t drink wine! However, while it’s cool to have your own label, it’s even more cool to own the whole estate, make your own wine, do your own thing…

The late cricketing great Eddie Barlow did it in Robertson with a farm he named Windfall, and former rugby star Jannie Engelbrecht did it in Stellenbosch with the superb Rust en Vrede, now run by his son Jean, a friend of golfing great and winner of this year’s British Open, Ernie Els.

Ernie Els
The current holder of the Claret Jug has been the most successful professional sportsman in the Cape winelands to date, as in the range of top Ernie Els Wines made by Louis Strydom at Els’s cellar in Stellenbosch include a flagship or two that have earned their place among the best wines in the modern era of South African winemaking. Although, that said, fellow major golf success story Retief Goosen is a shareholder in the outfit producing interesting stuff at The Goose Wines in the Upper Langkloof outside George. Plus, Springbok rugby family Schalk Burger & Sons have achieved success with both their premium Welbedacht and budget-priced Meerkat ranges – albeit that the labels and the Wellington farm complete with pitch and oval say more about ‘Groot’ Schalk’s love of cricket and wildlife than they do about the game for which he and Schalk Jnr are famous!
Schalk Burger Jnr

Just as mind-bending was when Ernie the golfer rather than Schalk or another of the big names who’ve represented South Africa in the green and gold – such as ‘Boland’ Coetzee of Vriesenhof or ‘Hempies’ du Toit at Annandale – was awarded the licence to produce a couple of SA Rugby wines in the build up to the last World Cup!! But hey, you be the judge…


AMONG THE HIGHLY RATED ‘SPORTING’ WINES OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS:

Annandale Shiraz 2001

David Frost Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2000
David Frost Par Excellence 2002

Ernie Els Big Easy Red 2009, 2010
Ernie Els Big Easy White 2012
Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, 2010
Ernie Els CWG Auction Reserve 2009, 2010
Ernie Els Merlot 2010
Ernie Els Proprietor’s Blend 2003 – 2010
Ernie Els Signature 2000 – 2010

Meerkat Burrow Blend 2008
Meerkat Pinotage 2009

Rietvallei The Innings Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Rust en Vrede 1694 Classification 2006 – 2008
Rust en Vrede Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, 2006
Rust en Vrede Estate 1998 – 2009
Rust en Vrede Merlot 2003 – 2011
Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010
Rust en Vrede Single Vineyard Syrah 2007, 2009, 2010

Schalk Burger & Sons Myra 2007

Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 1998
Vriesenhof Chardonnay 2009, 2011
Vriesenhof Enthopio 2002
Vriesenhof Kallista 2001, 2003
Vriesenhof Pinot Noir 2003, 2007

Welbedacht Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2005
Welbedacht Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2005
Welbedacht Barrique Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Welbedacht Barrique Select 2003, 2005, 2007
Welbedacht Hat Trick 2005, 2006
Welbedacht Pinotage 2006, 2008

Windfall Shiraz 2007

For details of the latest reviews together with the prices of the top-rated SA wines with a sporting connection, click here.