Swartland Winery releases the Spirits of Harvests past

Tuesday, 6 April, 2004
Beryl Eichenberger
Swartland wines rose to the occasion
'Releasing the spirits of harvests past' was the theme for the launch of Swartland Winery’s new 2004 releases, Bukketraube, Chenin Blanc, Rosé and Swartland Light.

Taking place on April 1st, some may consider that the event, being a Ghost Tour, might be a foolish link, however, as the day dawned there were other forces at work. With thunder and lightning crashing around Cape Town in the wee hours of the morning our guests might be forgiven for thinking that we had had a word or two with the spirits – a bizarre weather pattern for the Cape!

With definite curiousity and perhaps a bit of trepidation guests gathered outside the Mugg and Bean at the V&A Waterfront. With a glass of bubbly in hand guests were handed their 'padkos', duly dressed up with ghostly cobwebs!

The lights flickered and spluttered on the bus as we heard the chilling stories of the German Lutheran church, and our well-informed guide continued with the ghostly experiences as we drifted slowly past and on to the Hiddingh Hall campus and the Little Theatre.

From there to the Good Hope Seminary School where we strained our eyes hoping to see one of the reported apparitions. We jumped off the bus at the Perseverance Tavern for a drink to calm our nerves and found that this was the room where the 'scissors murder' was plotted.

Passing The Castle of Good Hope we were pleased not to have to roam the dungeons! Informative and fun, the area of Cape Town is full of sightings, ghosts and poltergeists. At District Six much movement has happened in the past and continues to this day. On to Groote Schuur Hospital and we heard about the ghostly nurse in the tunnel, (one of the party regaled us with an experience she had had in a UK hospital as a student nurse – sending shivers up our spines) then to Drie Koppen, Rondebosch (saints, sinners and students), SACS and finally ending at the Alphen Hotel.

The spirits (both ghosts and guests) were rising as the end of the tour drew to a close and whether our guests had had any 'sightings' only they can tell, however we were all guaranteed of seeing the Swartland spirits. The story of the Cloetes was acted out before our eyes and as the drama came to an end the actor played his part with great aplomb, proceeding to introduce the Swartland 'spirits of harvest past'.

The ghost of Swartland Chenin Blanc 2004 came to rest on the edge of the table and was revealed as a crisp, dry and spirited wine with a fragrant bouquet reminiscent of hot summer days, the exuberant ripe fruit burst on the tongue as the guests sipped the chilled libation. The ghost of Bukketraube flew into the welcoming mouths with strong Muscat flavours supporting the rich flavours of honey. Sweet and full the flavours mingled with the bouquet and swirled in a memory of youth and decadence.

The velvet darkness reached out to each of the guests and the Natural Rosé, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Pinotage burst on the tongue and set the guests commenting on the new, dryer style.

Finally, soft and gentle mists revealed the friendly spirit of the lightest wine of all, Swartland Light. A Fernao Pires, low in alcohol and sugar this spirit of harvest past was greeted as a light touch to the evening that had been dominated by the heavier tales of old. The 'ferned' flower bouquet, supported by honey sweetness, told a sweeter story.

As guests settled down to dinner at the Alphen Manor House and some serious drinking to calm the nerves, the Swartland wines rose to the occasion with Indalo Shiraz and Pinotage matched to the old homestead’s delicious food. With entertainment by Daniele Pascal, it is hoped that the experiences perfectly matched the spirits of harvests past to linger on into the future to be enjoyed and savoured!