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The magic of “De Liefde”

“De Liefde” farm situated approx 10km from Wolseley in the Western Cape of South Africa. De Liefde is the source of our Shiraz grapes for the Bizoe Estalet Syrah since 2008.

How did we find this magical piece of vineyard? I was lucky enough to work at Mountain Ridge Wines after completing my degree at The University of Stellenbosch in Oenology and Viticulture. Mountain Ridge Wines what is called a Co-op in South Africa is one of those hidden gems that has been the stomping ground for some of South Africa leading winemakers. Winemakers in like Eben Sadie from Sadie Family Wines and Bartho Eksteen from Bartho Eksteen Wines has worked under legend winemaker Olla Olivier at Mountain Ridge or as it was called Romansrivier back in the day.

Getting my first Assistant Winemaker position under Francois Agenbag in 2007, I have met Org Viljoen (Alberts late dad) then owner of De Liefde. There was always something different on the days Org grapes was harvested. The whole of the cellar got to a standstill and waiting on Org to arrive with his grapes. Special tanks were kept open for Org. Typically in a Co-op grapes from different farms gets harvested together but not Org’s grapes. It wasn’t because of Org but rather on the quality of the grapes that was grown on De Liefde. It was and is just different.

Remembering the day “Oom Org” told me the story when he planted the Shiraz grapes we use today still. He approached as he called the “wise men” in the industry for advice what to plant on De Liefde. Presenting them with soil samples they advised him to rather start a brick factory. The soil consist of a high density of clay and not conducive for the growing of grapes. Today I am fortunate enough to be buying grapes from Org and Albert since 2008. The vineyard just year after year producing amazing grapes.

De Liefde grapes is also each year the last grapes to arrive in the cellar. There can’t be better people owing that property. The passion Albert has inherited from his dad and love for De Liefde is magical. Thanks to Albert for the love and care he puts into his grapes. We are looking forward to write about the Bizoe Estalet Syrah 2022 in a few years’ time and look back at this post and say we know back then it will be a magical wine!

Let’s hit the road Jack

Let’s hit the road Jack …. (Part 1)

One morning driving my kids to school on our local radio station in the Western Cape, KFM 94.5 played the famous song “Let’s hit the road Jack” by Eva & The Heartmaker. This made me realize it’s time to get on the road again. Visiting our distributors, retailers, restaurants and sales agents around the country.

Michelle and Kirsten from Extreme Wines in Cape Town was my first call. Kirsten introduced me to one of the most exciting wine stores in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town called Wine & Craft.

Next stop is my all-time favourite store and person in the Western Cape trade, Sue Proudfoot of Wine Concepts Kloof Street. Sue has been supporting Bizoe from our first day we released our Bizoe Henrietta in 2008.

Grub & Vine of Chef Matt Manning was next on the radar where we met with Keize Matumbe, Sommelier at Grub and Vine. Grub & Vine has the Bizoe Robertsvleipad Semillon 2019 and Bizoe Idioglossia Malbec 2018 on their wine list.

Wine trade doesn’t stop in the Western Cape, the following week to Johannesburg to work with Nadia Enslin of Le Vino Vita. Always a highlight on Johannesburg trips is tasting at DW11-13 with Chef Marthinus and Richard.

Spending our last few days in Gauteng with our friends at Into Wine. Late afternoon visit to The Godfather restaurant where you would find our Bizoe Estalet Syrah on their list was one of the highlights.

Final stop in Gauteng was at Capito Restaurant. Must confess I had dinner the previous night there and my sock was blown off again about the quality of food Robbie and his team dishes up at Capito. Looking forward to continue on my next blog about my week in the Garden Route ….

A Semillon Affair (Part2)

Semillon Affair (Part2)


In our previous post we have explained the Morningstar Semillon. Our next Semillon originates out of the beautiful Franschhoek Valley and is named Robertsvleipad Semillon.Naming the wines after the roads that leads to vineyard is a practice that is used in the Hunter Valley.


This vineyard is planted 20 years ago and consists only of the GD1 clone that is synonymous with the Semillon vines you will find in the Hunter Valley. Franschhoek is also known in South Africa as the mecca of Semillon. Semillon is just one of those varieties that gives you,as a winemaker,so many options and different styles to make.


The Robertsvleipad Semillon is 100% stainless steel fermented and aged on the lees for 10 months before bottling. Our aim is to sell only 20% of our production every year and build up a vintage that you as a consumer always have the option of vintages.


When we arrived back from the Hunter Valley,we purchased two smallstainless-steel tanks to specially produce our Semillon’s. In 2018 the maiden vintage of the Morningstar and Robertsvleipad Semillon,our two tanks were too small for the amount of grapes received. I decided to co-ferment approx. 500kg of each vineyard in a Flextank and inoculate the wine with Lafford Spark yeast. This type of yeast is predominantly used to make MCC (Champagne) style wines. The idea to use Champagne yeast was advised by Tulloch Wines. That was the birth of our Bizoe Crossroad Semillon.


During our time in the Hunter Valley we met amazing people and tasted great wines. Wines and people that stood out during our trips,were the wines of Andrew Thomas (Thomo) Wines that specialise in Shiraz and Semillon. No wonder we had a great time and tasting with Andrew. Our other highlight was spending an afternoon with the great Ian Riggs of Brokenwood Wines. Ian just recently being inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) – Congratulations Ian!The Wealthof knowledge I received from Ian, Bruce and Andrew is much appreciated.

Malbec isn’t only a Argentinian Wine

Malbec 2020 Challenge Awards

 At the awards function held at 96 Winery Road outside Somerset West on Thursday 15thOctober, the winner of the 2020 Malbec Challenge was announced. First time entry Mount Vernon 2015 Malbec was the highest scoring wine in the line-up of 21 wines.

There were 11 gold medals awarded, including Mount Vernon, well up on the five in 2019, a recognition of the quality of the wines and growing expertise of the winemakers.

Despite the Lockdown challenges, the 21 entries compares favourably with 26 last year, (which included multiple vintages), and while seven of those producers didn’t have wine to enter this year, that was compensated by 11 new producers who entered their wines in the 2020 Challenge. It bodes well for the future, for when things get back to normal, that there is such a high level of interest.

The Challenge was organised by Celia Gilloway of Events by Celia.

Once again, judging was done blind (no origin or vintage given) by a panel of five tasters using the international 100 point system, and took place on September 29th. The panel, chaired by Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, consisted of Anton Swarts, Cape Wine Master and senior winemaker at Spier in Stellenbosch; award-winning wine and food writer Malu Lambert, all of whom had judged in 2019; Samarie Smith, ex-editor of Versnit in Die Burger and currently PR consultant for the Cape Winemakers Guild; and Johannesburg-based sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka, founder of Kumusha Wines.

When asked what had inspired them to plant Malbec at Mount Vernon, the answer from Debbie Hooper, cellarmaster and co-owner with husband Dave, was that it was on the advice of Walter Finlayson. That wasin 1999/2000, and while initially they shared early harvests with David and Walter at Glen Carlou, as their own demand increased, the full crop was harvested for Mount Vernon.

Plantings nationwide are still small, well under 1% of vineyards, and production is limited.

A juicy, soft-skinned variety, Malbec requires care in the vineyard to avoid over-cropping or sunburn damage, and in the cellar quick and careful fermentation to prevent oxidation. The winning gold medal wines used either only older oak or a combination of new and used barrels, to showcase the succulent drinkability part of its character.

The competition has a generous sponsor, RX South Africa, agents of Tonnellerie de Mercurey wine barrels, an internationally respected family-owned specialist business based in France. The oak comes from three different forests, to create a wide range of barrel styles and qualities for international wine cellar requirements, with the stave mill located in Champagne.

Mount Vernon’s prize is a free new barrel, size of their choice, while additionally, RX South Africa provided funding for the Awards function.

Mount Vernon Malbec 2015

Bizoe Idioglossia Malbec 2018
Anura Reserve Malbec 2017
Bellevue Malbec 2017
Morgenhof Vintage Select Malbec 2014
Mitre’s Edge Malbec 2018
Benguela Cove Malbec 2018
Bushmanspad Malbec 2018
Ondine Malbec 2018
Sol & Pieter Willem Eksteen Nosotros 2018
Sonklip Malbec 2018

The New Normal Wine Trade (Part2)

New Normal Wine World (Part 2)

A lot of people will think that the new normal wine world, will most likely … only be ordering wine-on-line. Luckily that is not the case, it is always fun presenting wines at dinners. Last week we had an amazing wine dinner experience at Capito Restaurant in Hazelwood Pretoria. Capito opened its doors a few months ago in The Club Retail Centre in Hazelwood.

Bizoe Chardonnay

The old faithful in Pretoria will always remember their days eating beautiful Italian Cuisine at Capeesh. Robert Paoletich (Robby) has opened a new restaurant called Capito. We could write articles of the new setting, but that would be ‘normal. Congratulations Robby, the new Capito will be a success. A night to remember. I would recommend Capito to anybody, worth visiting a hundred times.

Exciting new wine bar in Pretoria also opened up recently called IntoWine. The whole Bizoe range is available at IntoWine per glass. What added to the excitement is that Croydon Vineyard Estate wines and some of my University of Stellenbosch class mates’ wines is also available at IntoWine. IntoWine is situated in Selati Str, right underneath Caraffa Restaurant.

Back to the mother city, I had the opportunity to introduce my wines to the guests, at the Grub & Wine Restaurant of Chef Matt Manning, in a free wine tasting format. The evening is free as long as you make a booking. It’s well worth booking your seat for the tasting and make sure you get a seat in the restaurant afterwards.

Getting back into the thick of things in the new normal wine trade is fun. There is new opportunities opening its doors. As said in my previous blog post it’s not all doom and gloom, the light is starting to shine bright at the end of the tunnel.

Change is only scary until it becomes your new normal, Keep going.

New Normal Wine World

Rikus Neethling ready to travel

“In the rush to return to normal let’s use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” – Shelley Giglio

 As we move down to Level 1, I thought it’s time to get back on the horse and start visiting our trade clients in Johannesburg. Unsure what to expect, but excited in getting back on the road and visiting some of South Africa’s best restaurants that stock Bizoe Wines.

 4h00 Wake up, getting ready to make my first flight for 2020. In a normal year this would be a typical flight no 15. Arriving at Cape Town International Airport around 05h15 to make my 6h30 flight – Wow was I surprised, clearing security within 10 min of arriving at the airport, I was expecting to be in long queues.

Arriving at O.R Tambo International Airport disembarking the plane was interesting and I hope it remains a new normal. Given instructions from the crew to disembark row by row, less chaotic than normal, where everybody jumps up the moment the plane stops and bolts for the aisle to grab their suitcase and wait 10 min in a line for the airplane door to open. I think disembarkment was better organised and quicker than normal.

 Walking through an empty O.R Tambo Airport towards the Gautrain station was depressing. Normally buzzing with people, there were only me and a few other souls walking to the station. Checking in to the Radission Blu Gautrain was an easy pleasant experience and well organised.

 10h00 met up with Adri Liebenberg, representative of Le Vino Vita who looks after Bizoe in the Gauteng trade. Our first restaurant tasting with DW11-13 was a pleasant experience at one of my favourite restaurants in Johannesburg. Interesting the phone was ringing the whole time and to take bookings. Trade is getting back to normal in some way. The Bizoe Morningstar Semillon 2018 and 2019 is available on their wine list. Day 1 back in trade was different but great!

Day 2 back on the road in Johannesburg took us to lunch at Barazza Restaurant. This is always one of highlights in Johannesburg. Shaun and Aki sits you down and a 30 min tasting ends up in 2 hour lunch tasting their food and our wines. It’s a restaurant worth visiting.  Late afternoon tasting with Wikus Human sommelier of Marble Restaurant was our next stop. Marble has always been a good supporter of Bizoe Wines. Bizoe Henriëtta 2017, Bizoe Morningstar Semillon 2018, Bizoe Kruispad Semillon 2018 and Bizoe Idioglossia Malbec 2017 is all available at Marble.

 Ended my 2 days in Johannesburg with a wine dinner at Buonissimo Restaurant in Modderfontein. Italian restaurant keeping it authentic Italian making beautiful tasty food. The Bizoe Estalet Syrah 2016 and Bizoe Kruispad Semillon 2018 is available at Buonissimo. All in all the new normal is here but it looks like a positive new normal.

Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’

It’s Spring, with2021 around the corner. We have heard plenty of people making the statement, can we delete 2020 and move onto 1 Jan 2021. WellI always tell myself the moment I see the first bud burst on the vineyards, I know the new harvest is around the corner.

Rikus in the vineyardsThe moment has arrived, it’s here, the vineyards are budding and the 2021 harvest is just around the corner. 2020 hasn’t all been bad so far. We had a record harvest in South Africa, and the quality of the wines in tank and barrel is looking good.  Plenty of positives to take out of 2020 so far.

The dam levels in the Western Cape are rising, the last figures I am aware of, is around 95% full. It’s been an excellent rainfall in 2020, water tables are high, and vines are looking healthy. Growing season starts now and critical steps will be taken to ensure a good quality harvest in 2021. The 2021 harvest might be the one to remember in the future. I don’t expect all growers to aim for volume this year, it will be a year to focus on qualityis my prediction.

 In the cellar currently we are preparing our wines to be bottled soon. Bizoe will be bringing a new wine to the market this year called Bizoe Genant. The wine will consist of Shiraz/Grenache/Mouvedré.

Arriving back home after some wild flower watching down the West Coast of South Africawe received excellent news via twitter, @gregsherwoodmw has rated the Bizoe Estalet Syrah 2015 – 91 points. Unfortunately, the wine is not available in South Africa anymore and only a few magnums are available.

 May we all see the miracles in our garden each day, be strong and full of courage for the new season.

Around the world during Lockdown

Around the World during a South African Lockdown

As South Africans we prepared ourselves for a 21 day lockdown that turned into a 40 day lockdown. We did the 21 Day Braai Challenges, what next? We decided to take a trip around the world in our own house.

One of the best part of being a winemaker, on your travels aboard, your receive a lot of ‘not that commonly known wines’, or other wines that you can’t get in South Africa. You also get the opportunity to buy a variety of wines for your collection at home. We looked through our home cellar and we drank international wines from different regions and countries around the world, during evenings around the braai or dinner table. What an experience that was to share with my wife.

Started our journey with a Quinta del Obispo Mencia 2016, from Catilla y León Spain. Mencia is a grape variety common in the northwest of Spain. We have covered most of the European countries (see list below of wines we drank). I am going to mention some interesting wines. Ningxia Helan Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 from Ningxia Province in China, what an interesting wine. Tasting the wine and knowing the capability of the Chinese people, I am convinced as their vineyards aged, it will be a country making more beautiful wines, like this one, in the future.

Some of my Italian friends would be proud to know another outstanding wine was Barolo from Principiano Ferdinando Serralunga 2006. The wine that blew my socks off was a wine from Serbian Vrananc from Jovic Winery. This is something I will buy if it’s available in South Africa. We have crossed the world in a few days after starting in Spain, made a visit to New Zealand, Australia, USA, China, Serbia, France (Rhone, Burgundy and Bordeaux) and we ended our journey with a 2004 Tokaij from Hungary.

The only down side of this journey is that we would have to start our collection from scratch again. But it was worth it. Life is too short not to enjoy good wine.

List of Wines not named above blog

21 Day Lockdown turned into 21 Day Braai

Rikus Neethling of Bizoe Wines while cooking on Weber

Rikus Neethling of Bizoe Wines

When President Ramaphosa announced a 21 day lockdown on 23rd of March 2020 we all started thinking how to survive 21 days at home.  Driving back from town to home just before the lockdown started on the 26th, I thought to myself what are we doing for the next 21 days? As a typical South African I thought a 21 day braai challenge will be just perfect to keep the mood in the house.

That evening pulled out some recipe books in the house, asked the neighbours to borrow theirs, and I went to the local bookstore and got hold of the latest Jan Braai book. Planning started drew up a 21 day braai schedule with a pairing of Bizoe Wines.

To the shops on the morning of the 26th before the rush, got hold of most of the cuts that we didn’t have in the freezer, some extra spices and we were ready. Married to a Karoo Farmers daughter we are fortunate to have some of the best Karoo lamb.

The fun started on day 1 with an easy Beef Fillet and Bizoe Malbec Idioglossia 2017 pairing. The braai become more stressful knowing that we had 15000 people on social media following 2 amateur braaiers. Must admit I had some chefs in the industry on speed dial somedays to get advice. During the 21 days we braaied, fish, pork, lamb, beef, pizza, even a tomato soup, banana bread and pasta on the fire. Ended the 21 day braai with a family favourite Leg of Lamb on the Weber and Bizoe Estalet Syrah 2015.

All in all this was an amazing 21 days I had with the family. Pictures taking during this time will be cherished.  It gave me the opportunity to sit back and enjoy some of our great vintages, Bizoe Wines made in the past 12 years.

In the winery during lockdown and liquor prohibition

Rikus sampling barrels

Bizoe Estalet Syrah barrels

In the winery during lockdown and liquor prohibition

What are we up to in the cellar during these difficult times? It is a time to reflect on the 2020 harvest, as the red wines are completing the malolactic fermentation and it’s entering the final destination for maturation in lovely french oak barrel.

It’s a time of hope and excitement as we are tasting the future in the barrels. It gives you a sense of believe that times will changes as these wines will change over time and become better. The hard yards done for 2020 harvest, time to sit back and see how these wines develops and matures.

As 2020 harvest goes into maturation its time to turn focus to getting the 2019 harvest red wines in perfect shape to enter the bottle. Creating the perfect blend from the barrels. Getting the wines ready to be bottled is always fun part of the year to see if the dreams you had during the previous vintage will be coming a reality.

There is no guarantee in making wines, just a lot of believe and hope it turns out to perfection. All of the self doubt, uncertainness and making gut feeling decision during the previous year will show now if it was the right decision made. Believe me there is no better feeling than knowing you got it right when putting these wines through their final steps before bottling.

As we thank the International community for keeping the South African Wine Industry alive, we know the tide will turn and we will be able to share our South African Wines with South African people soon.

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