Swartland Organic Org de Rac Showing its Class

Tuesday, 14 November, 2017
The Wine Goggle, Emile Joubert
I first met Frank Meaker in one of the coldest winters Paris has ever experienced. It was 1985, the weather so cold that the Five Nations rugby match between France and Scotland, which had drawn us to meet up in the City of Light, was cancelled as the Parc des Princes’s turf had frozen solid, making play unsafe and not conducive to avoiding cracked skulls and crushed bones.

No rugby then, so for the next three days Frank and I walked, talked and drank our way through Paris. This was my first real bout of continuous engagement with somebody for whom wine, the vine and their roles in life’s many layers is not only a profession, but a vocation and calling. Then a young up-and-coming winemaker working in Champagne as part of the Distillers Corporation’s quest for top-end Cap Classique production, Frank was not trying to impress me with wine-speak, his knowledge of Champagne or lists of the great wines he had drunk.

We just walked around Paris, stopping off at every second bar for a glass of house red or white, the wine a lubricant for conversation and a companion to the hearty, simple country-dishes Frank enjoyed ordering. I remember the two of us queuing in freezing night-time conditions to gain access to a popular couscous joint. When we eventually arrived at the door, frozen to the bone and me not being able to feel my nose, Frank discovered that no wine was served at the place whose fare we were looking forward to enjoying. No wine, no food, he said, so we turned around and traipsed to the nearest normal bistro for some liver and cheap Rhône red.

Almost forty years later, I am drinking two wines that, for me embody the soul of winemakers such as Frank Meaker. Yes, wine is made in the vineyard, but it is the winemaker, the artist, the commander, who must approve and put his or her final seal on the result of the vines’ efforts.

As cellar master at Org de Rac in the Swartland, Frank has become a keen follower of organic agriculture. No gimmick or marketing hype. For him, organic is purely about farming as it had been done in the early days. Before a chemical that could blast hell out of the slightest sign of a critter or one pumping volumes of nitrogen into the soil could be ordered at the touch of a button. Farming as in the days when Frank’s grand-father, wine icon Paul Sauer, got to know wine-farming.

In Org de Rac’s case, this is helped by the fact of the farm lying in isolation, a lone pocket of vineyards next to the N7 just before Piketberg not having to contend with any invasive farming activities by keenly spraying neighbours.

The first vines were planted on Org de Rac in 2001, and after stops and starts and trials and errors, it would appear that the fruit raised there is now proving to be something very, very special.

These two new wines alluded to, are a white and red blend going by the name of Die Waghuis, referring to the old guard-house on Piketberg. 

To read more online, click here.

Org de Rac
Org de Rac

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