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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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