“I could have you bumped off for R15 000. Cheap at the price,” said my wife, as I departed for the launch of Oak Valley’s second label Rawbones at Mzoli’s in Gugulethu. Her black humour was of course a reference to the recent honeymoon murder of Anni Dewani which took place there, allegedly organised by her husband Shrien.
Glamourous unmarried colleague Jeanri-Tine van Zyl had a different view of what might be achieved on the visit, announcing her intention to go home with a “black diamond” and judging by the shiny black Mercedes-Benz saloon parked outside of one of the homes that we saw as we took a detour via Langa courtesy of Cape Town Tourism, she had every chance of coming right.
I’m embarrassed to say I’d never been to Mzoli’s before despite its reputation for fabulous grilled meat. Rather than the possibility of meeting with a premature end, my worst fear was that it might be an inauthentic tourist trap but it very much is the real deal.
No airs and graces are tolerated: you eat with your hands, the food on offer consisting of huge off-cuts of lamb and unidentifiable parts of chicken in a slightly spicy and utterly delicious bbq sauce, while the boerewors is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Owner Mzoli Ngcawuzele is a man on a mission: “We need to address the racial tensions of the past. Through a piece of meat, I believe we can achieve integration.”
As for the wine, Oak Valley owner Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen made the observation that as a result of the ongoing recession, “stressed-out consumers are buying down” and the Rawbone range is an effort to make wines of quality available at everyday price points.
There are two wines under the Rawbones label: The Wishbone Sauvignon Blanc 2010 selling for R45 a bottle from the farm and Butchers Block Merlot Cabernet Franc 2008 selling for R55.
The Sauvignon is overtly fruity and winemaker Pieter Visser lets on that he deliberately made the wine on the sweet side to be as palate friendly as possible. Residual sugar is in fact 4.5g/l, which is hardly excessive and the wine does indeed make for easy if not particularly complex drinking.
I thought the red blend (79% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc; 18 months in oak, 30% new) was particularly well done being medium bodied and fresh and having just enough tannic grip to keep it interesting.
Mzoli’s was in full swing yesterday and as Visser and I sipped our Sauvignon Blanc, he said to me “We need to get drinkers of other alcoholic beverages to switch to wine”. The Mzoli’s regulars seem pretty loyal beer drinkers to me but as the gentrification of South Africa’s townships continues, perhaps the day when we become a nation of wine-drinkers is not that far off.