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La Capra Chenin Blanc 2009


Is there anybody in South African wine to touch Charles Back of Fairview, Spice Route and Goats do Roam when it comes to marketing?  His latest initiative is the launch of La Capra, a range of “lifestyle” wines and while they take their name from the Italian for goat, they go so much beyond “critter wines”, the category that arose out of the success Australian brand Yellow Tail (a type of wallaby) had in the USA at the beginning of the 2000s.

Bridget Back. Will read your palm if you buy a bottle of La Capra.
Bridget Back. Will read your palm if you buy a bottle of La Capra.

Official media launch took the form of a gypsy-style caravan being installed at Wembley Square in Gardens, Cape Town. Three musicians entertained passers-by while Bridget, daughter of Charles conducted private tastings within.

Supposedly, the brand is inspired by one Attila Balébôs, a colourful drifter with a taste for music and good food and wine who was encountered by Back many years ago when he stopped off at Fairview. Asked if this story is legit, Back Jnr replies “Your guess is as good as mine.” After studying marketing and psychology, she has been put to work on every aspect of the Fairview business over the last year or so, and describes it as “the longest job interview anybody could undergo”.

If those consumers who drink “lifestyle” wines are the same as those into new media, then the launch is working gangbusters: Bangers and Nash, Cape Town news blog and A million miles from normal are all blogs that have covered La Capra already. Not much I can add except to say that the wines are really well put together on the whole, and while approachable to even the most uninitiated wine drinker, don’t use obvious devices like overt sweetness or oak-derived flavour to do this.

The range consisting of a Sauvignon Blanc ‘09, Chenin Blanc ‘09, Chardonnay ‘09, Viognier ‘09, Pinotage Rosé ‘10, Pinotage ‘08, Shiraz ’08 and Cabernet Sauvignon ‘08. Among the whites, I thought the Chenin Blanc was particularly likeable with good palate weight and fresh acidity (part Agter Paarl fruit accounting for the depth and texture, part Darling providing the zing) . With Sauvignon Blanc flavour of the day, I have to say I found this a little phenolic and ungenerous. It comes from a bushvine vineyard in the Swartland planted in 1965 and recognised as the oldest in the country so perhaps it should be treated with more veneration. A passable Rosé for thos who can’t help themselves drinking the stuff and the reds all more than competent, even the Merlot. Buy any six for R200 from Fairview.


  1. You’re too right. When it comes to marketing wine Mr. Back is the top dog in SA (but let us also acknowledge his daughter’s and ad agency’s influence (the latter a  good choice perhaps, and the former good genes).

    It does make me wonder how these wines would be assessed without the tents and hoopla. Probably similarly, as I don’t think it would be fair to accuse commentators of being swayed by a blonde and a tent. I do think, having tasted the wines, that its coverage seems out of balance with the quality of wines (on coverage, you forgot FoodieZA’s post http://foodcapital.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/la-capra-cabernet-sauvignon-2008/).

    So maybe they would be judged similarly, but probably with less vigour and excitement. 

    Basically people are going to buy this wine not for it’s inherent quality, but because  there are bearded gypsies involved.

    I hope more serious wines start taking this approach. Competing for the local market. We need to start loving our wines as much as we love our Castles. 

  2. But Harry, that is called marketing.
    I have not tasted La Capra wines myself, but have been to Fairview to taste before and based on that experience would expect that the wines would be decent enough, without blowing your hair back. And the other articles are saying just that, not claiming that they are icons. If Back can draw an emotional connection to his products from the punters, then he is achieving what most of the rest in the industry can only dream of.


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