Bertus Basson is a wonderful friend and supporter of ours, offering a selection of Naudé wines at a number of his fine Stellenbosch restaurants. In fact he is and has long been a great supporter of many independent local winemakers. His wine lists always boast a number of interesting and exciting gems from some of our favourite people and producers.
We recently sat down with him over lunch at his Overture restaurant, and were able to briefly chat about his wine philosophy and how he goes about selecting the wines for his restaurants.
It was an interesting discussion, and one we felt worthy of sharing as it lets you, the wine lover, in on the decisions that chefs, sommeliers and others in the trade are faced with when filling up their wine lists.
We asked about what informs his selections. Is it just based on relationships, is it specific to the restaurant in question or is it a question of price and quality?
As to be expected, although there are no hard and fast rules, it’s a little bit of everything. You get the sense that Bertus is very loyal to people he enjoys working with. He’s also particular about serving wines of great quality and ensuring that those wines match the ethos of
Take Eike for example. Bertus’ Dorp Street tribute to South African heritage is warm and comforting. And the wines mirror this. Typically big wines that hold up to big food, while also representing tradition and place.
Kaapzicht’s 1947 Chenin Blanc is the perfect example of this. A rich, luxurious and fresh wine from bush vines on the Bottelary that were planted when the name suggests. Kaapzicht is family farm, run for generations by the Steytler’s. Much like the food, the wine takes you back. It’s the perfect complement.
The list is not huge, but exceptionally well thought out. And every wine has its place.
And then to Spek & Bone. Named after his pig and his dog, this relaxed, welcoming space offers small tapas plates, comfort and smiles. This is complemented by a list that celebrates the independent producer. Plenty of options available by the glass. You want the incredible LYSA Verdelho from Guillaume Nell? It’s on the list. Patatsfontein, Radford Dale, Kershaw? All there too.
Obviously changing all the time, the wine list is eclectic, extensive and unpretentious. Just like the restaurant.
And finally to Hidden Valley. Now almost 15 years old, Overture is South African fine dining with a focus on great ingredients, great service and great wine.
As expected, the farm’s wines are available, as are a diverse selection of some of Bertus’ favourite producers. Expect to find Luddite alongside Thelema, Hogan and Uva Mira. Sadie next to a Naudé White Blend.
You might struggle to identify a theme, but you won’t struggle to find something delicious to pair with your meal. And if you look closely, you will notice the emphasis on place. Wines from Walker Bay to Bottelary, Paarl to the Swartland, and unsurprisingly a large selection from Stellenbosch while you sit overlooking one of its finest views.
The one thing that hits you above all else is the respect that Bertus’ various wine lists have for the dining experience. These lists do not happen by accident. They are all very carefully considered to fit their environment and make your time more memorable.
This should be the goal of every wine list.