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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREENS WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-01-21)

The KWV of Paarl has produced many fine wines over the past 85 years, but it has excelled itself with a shiraz that is probably the most expensive red wine to emerge from the vineyards of the Cape.

It is called Perold after Abraham Izak Perold, one of the great pioneers of South African viticulture, and it sells for a cool R800 a bottle. You cant buy it anywhere. It is available at the duty-free shops at the Johannesburg and Cape Town international airports and at the KWVs Wine Emporium shop at Paarl.

The newly released 1998 vintage of Perold is in fact the second vintage to be produced. The first vintage, placed on the market in 1999, ran to 3 500 bottles which were sold out in no time, almost entirely to overseas visitors. In real terms fifty-eight British pounds or 89 American dollars mean a lot less than R800, but thats the way it works out at the currency exchange rates.

The KWV - Ko-operatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging, Cape Winegrowers Association - was formed in 1918 to bring stability to a disorganised wine industry, and 95 percent of the farmers then growing wine grapes joined it. Today it is a very large commercial concern, producing a wide range of wines for the local and international markets. These are all of a high standard. The story of Perold red wine, which represents the peak of KWV achievement, apparently began when the KWVs international managing director Vernon Davis tasted a famous red in California called Opus One. Back in Paarl he asked his winemakers to produce something that would be a benchmark for a South African icon wine.

KWV claims, with justification, that Perold is a red wine comparable with the best in the world. The shiraz grapes came from a special vineyard on top of the Paarl mountain. At 550 metres above sea level there is a lengthy ripening period, and this, combined with low yields of 2,5 tons per hectare, ensures exceptionally fruity grapes with a rich colour.

The wine was matured in new 300-litre American oak barrels for 28 months, and was bottle matured for a further 15 months before its release.

Sterik de Wet, KWVs chief winemaker, says that Perold is an outstanding new-style shiraz that combines spicy aromas with sweet, rich berry fruit on the palate. He recommends that the wine be served at a temperature of 18 to 20 degrees Celsius with red meat, especially roast or grilled pork, lamb, venison and cheese.

This new release, like the first edition, consists of 3 500 bottles, and KWV believes it will have no trouble at all in disposing of them. Michael Green




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