An evening with André van Rensburg

One of South Africa’s best and certainly most controversial winemakers, André van Rensburg, was in London yesterday for the unveiling of his new wine, DNA.

Notorious for shooting from the hip, an evening with the man behind Vergelegen, is not for the faint-hearted. Suspending and putting aside any sort of political correctness, there is no denying van Rensburg is a passionate and consummate winemaker.

After a flight of Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignons from 1998 to 2010, the big man, in every sense, along with estate md, Don Tooth, unveiled their new wine DNA, which is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon with an abv of 14% (£22, circa €27, US$34).

A lighter wine than Vergelegen’s flagship Cabernets, it nevertheless had that trademark freshness due to good acidity with an elegance and refinement you do not always find in South Africa’s often heavy duty reds.

Also on show was Vergelegen’s MMV Brut 2008 sparkling, which is 59% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir, 12%. A delightful sparkler without the racing acidity you get with a lot of other fizzes.

Tooth told a story about Van Rensberg and the Pinot that went into this cuvee. Now at this point, I have to point out that this is not a story for those of a politically correct persuasion. So please stop reading this blog now.

Van Rensberg, who gained notoriety when he likened producers of South Africa’s ‘unique’ grape variety, Pinotage, to "murders, rapists and child molesters", is not a fan of Pinot Noir. Certainly not in his territory anyway.

According to Tooth, at a management meeting van Rensberg said that he wanted to rip out the Pinot because it was producing rubbish wine. The exasperated Rensberg pronounced: “I will sleep with men before I make Pinot Noir.”

So he made a sparkler instead….