DRINK THIS: Two Dogs, a Peacock and a Horse
One of the great things about getting into wine – getting into as in exploring beyond the safe, tried-and-tested bottles you might reach for without a second thought – is discovering a whole new winery to add to the repertoire of adventurous drinking. For bookish types, it’s akin to discovering a new author and, following that first page-turner of a read, setting out to work your way through everything else they’ve written. Often it can mean nothing simply to flip through your Platter’s Guide, wondering about all those different names, the boutique wineries and even some of the bigger guys. There is a lot of wine out there. But when sitting around a table with friends, sipping something new, and loving it, and then looking it up and uncovering a whole world of potential deliciousness beyond that one wine, it all starts making sense. A recent new discovery has been the wines of Black Elephant Vintners, a small independent producer tucked up the slopes above the village of Franschhoek. A partnership between Kevin Swart and Raymond Ndlovu (his surname lending the elephant part of the name after Kevin's 'black') with winemaker Jacques Wentzel, previously of the Amistad Wine Company, BEV produces a succinct collection of six premium wines. These whites and reds have in common intriguing names, interesting stories and exceptionally well-designed labels that make you look twice. They also make for pretty diverting drinking. We instantly loved the witty label (and superbly accessible contents) of BEV’s Two Dogs, a Peacock and a Horse (cellar door price R69, or about R90 from Vino Pronto), an old-barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of Semillon. It’s a white that’s good for winter sipping, and goes fabulously well with dishes from rich risottos and creamy mussel pots to a hearty roast chicken. Kevin calls it a ‘seriously made fun wine’, which sums it up well. When asked about the eye-catching label, he said this: ‘Most labels have a story and some relevant meaning, which is great - we have that as well, but we wanted to create an "anti-label". The main structure of the label looks like an elaborate coat of arms. You will see two dogs, a peacock and a horse in it. The central inverted Y is meant to represent the Eiffel Tower, but if the bottle is turned horizontal it represents the South African flag. Secondly, with the bottle on its side the die cut is that of a typical Dutch Homestead. This all symbolises the SA/Dutch/French connection that has been the history of Franschhoek. ‘The name Two Dogs, a Peacock and a Horse is just a random selection of animals that don’t seem to belong together. There are so many serious animal labels coming out of Africa! It’s amazing the combinations that come out when doing tastings etc, it can really make you laugh. All in all, the label plays on that contradiction.’ Check it out for yourself!