One of the worst things about Cape Town is you will almost always know someone wherever you go. This lack of anonymity has people constantly posturing, keenly aware that somebody they know is watching them and will report back to their peers at the next dinner party or book club. Even those not posing are rarely truly relaxed, unless they are part of the barefoot bunch or older than 65, meaning they genuinely just don’t care.
During an easy Saturday morning stroll along the promenade I spotted a new Bantry Bay coffee shop and immediately felt the need for a coffee. Not having a wallet or a cellphone on me meant I couldn’t just walk in and order, but if only I could find… yes, there was someone I knew, perfect. A hop over the road and a few minutes later I was seated with a friend who generously bought me a coffee and introduced me to his guest, Philipp Axt of 4G Wines.
If you’re South African and love wine but are not familiar with 4G, I don’t blame you. At a retail price of R4 000 a bottle, their current vintage G 2012 is not aimed at the average punter. Amongst South Africans, the first thing a price like that usually generates is scepticism. Even when one hears of the excruciating lengths the winery goes to for quality, it’s easy to disregard them with claims that they’re too new an operation to make wine deserving of that price.
But a winemaking team that includes French winemaker and professor Denis Dubourdieu (consultant at Chateau Cheval Blanc) and Giorgio Dalla Cia (creator of Meerlust Rubicon), a mandate to find only the best grapes at whatever cost, the highest quality cork as used only by Chateau Y’Quem and a label printed in Switzerland are clear signs they’re out to make a statement. The price tag only emphasizes this goal.
My impromptu coffee shop encounter with Philipp resulted in us pouring the G 2012 by the glass at Publik Wine Bar this past Friday night, mainly as an experiment to see how it would be received. At R520 per glass it was never going to fly out the bar but the four people who enjoyed it felt their purchase worthwhile and the lengthy discussions with them and other customers were highly enjoyable.
Not that 4G Wines needs the South African market support. Each vintage of the wine has sold out since launch, mostly to the UK and European markets, and at a recent blind tasting of seven Robert Parker 100-point wines reported on by German magazine, Falstaff , the line-up including Petrus, Latour, Penfolds Grange and Dominus, the G 2012 rated second place. Prices for some of these highly collectible wines dwarf that of the South African so perhaps a genuine question is whether the G 2012 price tag of R4 000 a bottle is too little?
If you’d like to try it for yourself, get in touch with 4G Wines at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Cope owns and runs Publik wine bar in Cape Town which focuses on unusual and interesting wines. When he’s not pouring the stuff he attempts to make wine more fun and approachable as a contributing writer to various local magazines.