Friday 29 April 2019
I was perhaps pushing my luck to taste at 5.00 pm on a Friday even though Anysbos produces 2 wines only. It had been a long day of visits to the Bot Rivier vineyards but I thought I would try my luck one more time. Besides, I had passed the Anysbos entrance on my way to Leeurivier Wyn and so could not have been closer. Johan Heyns was kind enough to oblige – after milking! – and so I arrived with the shadows lengthening under dappled blue skies. It was a beautiful late winter afternoon with the gentle rolling Overberg countryside looking at its best. Anysbos was easy to find on the good quality, gravel Swartrivier Road that runs South-West of Gabriëlskloof where I had tasted earlier in the day.
The road through the simple entrance led thought Pinot Noir and other vines, past a dam, up the slope on the other side that was flanked by olive trees of between 4 and 10 years old. I parked beside the family home to be met by Johan and several large dogs. The setting was blissfully rural and made me think, again, about living in the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town. Johan told me how he too had left ‘the big smoke’ and the movie industry in Johannesburg some 10 years ago. The life transformation must have been immense but, as he kindly gave me a bakkie tour of the 320 hectare property, he seemed very content in the countryside.
Johan and wife Sue bought the 320 hectare wheatland farm in 2007. They have achieved a remarkable amount in little over 10 years. The old stone cottage has been converted into a cosy family home. Dams have been built and some 20,000 olive trees planted that are starting to come into their initial fruiting years (I learned that olives need more water than vines). Impatient for the olives to bear fruit, Johan established a small Toggenburg stud and goat herd and began making goat’s cheese that is sold locally and online. I can vouch for the aptly named ‘Caprino’, a pecorino-styled cheese made from the goat’s milk. I saw cheddar, feta and halloumi in the impressive cheesery housed, together with an olive press, in converted former farm outbuildings.
Grenache Noir vines were the first to be planted in 2012, in very rocky soils as dryland bush vines. Shiraz and Cinsault were next planted with new, mostly Rhône, cultivars being added each year. These include the little grown Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne together with Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. I sensed that not all olive and vine plantings were quite where they were best suited and that Johan enjoyed, or perhaps suffered, the trial and error approach. Nonetheless, many of the young vines looked healthy as they start to establish themselves. The 2019 vintage will be the first to be made at Anysbos. Hitherto, the wines have been made by the young, talented Marelise Niemann of Momento Wines at the Gabriëlskloof cellar.
I was eager to taste the 2 wines and I was not disappointed. The white wine, called Disdit or ‘done and dusted’, was a Chenin Blanc-led blend with Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. The uncommon blend was pale straw in colour with excellent intensity and complexity of lemon, peach fruity and honey aromas. I liked the elegant vibrant character and clean mouthfeel.
I preferred, but only just, the pale ruby light bodied Grenache Noir. It had attractive notes of fruity but not over-ripe cherry, raspberry and cranberry on the nose with just a hint of black tea and dried herbs. The palate was smooth with slight spiciness and silky, refined tannins. As I finished sampling the 2 wines, Sue explained that the name Anysbos comes from an aniseed-scented, pink flowering herb that commonly grows in the Overberg and on the farm. Agathosma cerefolium is also known as Coast Anise Buchu though a member of the Rutaceae plant family and so not a true Buchu.
Johan and Sue were generous and charming hosts and, even so, I did not wish to overstay my warm welcome. It was late anyway and time to return to Cape Town. I left with a large chunk of Caprino and a bottle of the Grenache Noir that seemed like a perfect and fortuitous pairing. Anysbos may currently be little known but keep your eyes open in the rating, lists of high scoring wines and wards over the next few years. I shall be very surprised if Anysbos does not feature prominently.
Wines tasted (bought*):
2017 Disdit (61% Chenin Blanc, 21% Roussanne, 18% Grenache Blanc) – R250
2016 Grenache Noir – R250*FAVOURITE WINE