The wine company of famous Chablis producer Michel Laroche purchased Stellenbosch property L’Avenir in 2005 and then in 2010, an even bigger French wine company JeanJean took over Laroche to form AdVini (apparently becoming the third largest still wine producer in the country) and in so doing taking over ownership of L’Avenir.
Last night the reveal of a (much needed) redesign of the labels and the upgraded tasting room. AdVini clearly intend to make much of the South Africa-meets-France idea – the evening took the form of a cocktail party on the lawn outside the cellar, each wine paired with both a local and a French dish. So Single Block Chenin Blanc with Cape Malay prawn curry (SA) or roasted rabbit (FR) and Single Block Pinotage with boerewors and braai broodjie (SA) or fillet au poivre (FR) and so on…
The format of the evening was not conducive to formally reviewing the wines and perhaps the most insightful aspect of the whole affair is how AdVini, who have operations all over the world, have done their pricing.
Bottom-end and in my opinion dead ordinary Far and Near Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (with label featuring Boerbul side-by-side with French poodle) goes for R50 a bottle, for instance, while the appealing but straightforward mid-tier Provenance Chenin Blanc 2013 (featuring safe-as-houses line drawing of cellar and vineyards on the the label) R90 a bottle.
The two flagship wines are a Single Block Chenin Blanc 2012 at R180 a bottle and a Single Block Pinotage at R300 a bottle. Both wines are very good but are now pitched at the very top of their categories – the Chenin above Beaumont Hope Marguerite and on par with De Morgenzon Reserve, the Pinotage ahead of wines like Rijk’s Reserve and Simonsig Redhill. Does this imply that local producers have got their margins all wrong?