Apt celebration drink

Wednesday, 14 January, 2004
Camilla Perks
Rhodes University alumni to celebrate University’s 100th birthday
Hundreds of Rhodes University alumni are expected to visit Grahamstown in 2004 to celebrate the University’s 100th birthday. To assist with the celebrations Rhodes has produced an appropriate memorabilia gift in the form of the Special Edition Centenary Six-Pack. The Six-Pack consists of two bottles each of special edition red and white wine from Villiera Wines and two bottles of iQhilika, Grahamstown's very own honey based alcoholic beverage.

The Centenary White is a 2003 blend of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc while the Centenary Red is a 2000 vintage and a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The labels for the wines, designed by Tony Poole, reflect the campus icon, the Herbert Baker clock tower, the white label image captures the daytime view and the red at dusk.

Prof Rob Midgley, chairman of the 2004 Centenary committee, was the fuel behind the Six-Pack and has enjoyed seeing and tasting the final product. Midgley greatly appreciated the efforts from all those involved in the venture, and especially Villiera Wines and Makana Meadery for their roles in producing a great end product.

‘It was a pleasure to work with Jeff Grier from Villiera on this project. He was most helpful in explaining what was possible, and what was not, and when we ran into distribution challenges, he kindly made his resources available to us. Villiera has a reputation for wines that offer value for money and that appellation applies equally to their after-sales service,’ said Midgley.

The Centenary Red has a prominent berry aroma and the flavour matches one's expectations. It is quite light and full of fruit while not overbearing. The Centenary White is a well-balanced, easy-to-drink wine, light and fresh on the palate with fruity undertones.

iQhilika, which is a Xhosa word for mead, an ancient beverage, is not wine or beer and is produced from fermented honey hence its golden hue. The Makana iQhilika Meadery company which was founded by Garth Cambray, Dr Winston Leukes from Rhodes University and Vuyani Ntantiso and has grown to 21 full time employees and is more than 50% owned and funded by previously disadvantaged individuals. For the first time, an African mead is being packaged and brought to the world's shelves.

The Makana Meadery has stayed true to the traditional brewing method in using the ingredients of honey, water and the roots of an indigenous succulent herb known as ‘imoela’. The Xhosa people tell the story that bees are the spirit of the ancestors and that honey is a gift of the gods. To the Xhosa iQhilika is known for both its health giving and aphrodisiac properties. Keeping an age-old tradition alive iQhilika is still served with honour and pride, at weddings and ceremonial rites. Hence the use of the iQhilika for the Rhodes Centenary celebrations is so suitable.

‘The nose is reminiscent of valley bushveld flowers with a strong honey overtone. The taste is dry at first with a crisp smooth feel, which leaves the mouth feeling clean and the throat pleasantly warm. The moderate glycerol content, which rivals that of a good red wine, allows the rolling development of a number of subtle aftertastes, mostly derived from the various floral nectars represented in the honey. In terms of alcohol content, our iQhilika contains 13% ethanol and no measurable contaminant alcohols. This means that true to its traditional reputation it will not give one a hangover. Its osmotic balance means that it allows one to spend the whole evening at the dinner table and best of all, the magic ingredient, pollen makes your skin feel supple and healthy the next day,’ said company founder Garth Cambray.

‘iQhilika offers unusual alternatives at a well dressed table. Strikingly perfumed, it whets the appetite, well chilled as an aperitif and comes into its own to accompany equally characterful sweet desserts. Even matured cheeses,’ said nationally respected wine taster Prof Dave Swingler from the Rhodes Psychology Department.

The Rhodes Centenary Six-Pack will be available from January at R270 per box including VAT (excluding postage).

To order, please contact: Katlego Gabashane, Centenary Events Co-ordinator
Tel: +27 (0) 46 603-8432
Email: k.gabashane@ru.ac.za

Caption: The Centenary trio combination of white wine, mead and red wine.
Picture taken by: Trevor Crighton

Issued by: Camilla Perks
Tel: +27 (0) 46 603-8517
Email: c.perks@ru.ac.za