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Rawbones Butchers Block Merlot Cabernet Franc 2008

A Mzoli's patron throws some moves.
A Mzoli's patron throws some moves.

“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.


  1. I think your reference to Anni Dewani murder is sick, i shall no longer read your blog! Whatever happened to blogging just for the love of wine? :(

    • Peter won’t get to read this on account of his boycott of my blog but for everybody’s else’ sake all I would say is that while Anni Dewani’s death is hugely regrettable, what we know about the circumstances under which it happended is bizarre. How to cope with the sheer senselessness of it all? I think acknowleding the humour in it (newly wed hubby allegedly stiffs beautiful wife) is one way, while of course not losing sight of the fact that a human tragedy has occurred with obviously massively negative implications for South Africa’s international standing. Wine for wine’s sake can occasionally become a little tiresome.

  2. Peter i think it a bit harsh to say you never reading Christians blog again, however i agree with you that its content leaves an undesirable taste in your mouth. To be real honest i never knew this blog existed until i saw one of my friends on facebook say how dare he bring this into the wine industry, the comments on facebook should have you concerned due to the negative response it got. I have these questions for you Mr E, how is it you only implement the words REGRETTABLE or SENSELESS in an attempt to justify your article and not in the article itself? That led me to believe you are trying to sensationalize her death in order to get people to notice what you have to say, and if it becomes a little tiresome do you not think its your inability to come up with original content that has something to do with the lifestyle around wine? Yet your article clearly highlights one of CT biggest stains, and the fact you claim there is humor in it confirms you are heartless. Dont quit your day job whatever that may be, actions like this will only bring you down, just a pity the wine world media has to be dragged down with it. Just my 5 cents!

  3. From Wikipedia: “Black humour (from the French humour noir) is a term coined by Surrealist theoretician André Breton in 1935, to designate the sub-genre of comedy and satire in which laughter arises from cynicism and skepticism… The terms black comedy or dark comedy have been later derived as alternatives to Breton’s term. In black humour, topics and events that are usually regarded as taboo, specifically those related to death, are treated in an unusually humourous or satirical manner while retaining their seriousness; the intent of black comedy, therefore, is often for the audience to experience both laughter and discomfort, sometimes simultaneously.”

    For contemporary examples of the genre you could, for instance, check out some of the movies by the Coen brothers or Tarantino.

  4. Each to their own. With so much tragedy and undeniable evil that exists in our world it would be a very dark place if the existence of humor (including “Black humor”) was to be censored, regulated and quashed. Our local cartoonist Shapiro uses it to not only convey his messages and to highlight certain issues that exist in our country but also for financial gain. Lighten up people, media in all forms is consumed by you in two ways -either to inform you or to offer an opinion. What you choose to do with that information/opinion is up to you. The fact that the lunch was at Mzoli’s makes the opening paragraph and reference relevant (and funny as far as I am concerned – that’s just me).

    Had Christian have made other references and/or comments regarding Annie (there are a lot I can think of) it would have been in bad taste.

    Have a drink, sit back and relax and enjoy the time with your families and loved ones, it is the Festive Season after all.

  5. All very valid points from all sides, For me i would have preferred it to be only wine and lifestyle, as some have said each to his own, and correctly so, friends sticking up for friends dont make it right, What does Oak Valley have to say about it? I will ask Pieter Visser next time we dine to see if the Brand Management agree with the writer or the unhappy consumer, after all the consumer has the last word.

  6. Although I wouldn’t want my wine brand to be seen in this light, just chill and pop a cork! some articles will always show badly to some, and awesome to others! Different tastes for different people, and some very different people lol, Sally hope we are invited to that dinner? ;) Its been too long!


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