Mention the word Joostenberg, and a whole lot of positive associations spring to mind. The first of these relates to their Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest, which I think is one of the finest botrytis wines produced in South Africa. When it was first released – coinciding with the Joostenberg launch in the late 90s, if I remember correctly – it was labelled as a Natural Sweet and was the first wine from the estate that we got stuck into selling at Enoteca. At twenty-something rand per half bottle we sold buckets of it.
The operation is run by brothers Tyrrel (winemaker) and Philip jnr. (marketing) Myburgh, who are both all-round great guys. Their sister, Susan, is married to acclaimed French chef Christophe Dehosse, whom I first met when he was the chef at the Vineyard Hotel’s Au Jardin restaurant. For the past ten years, or thereabouts, he’s been behind the ridiculously underpriced food served at Joostenberg Bistro, which is attached to the Myburgh family’s pork butchery. Philip senior has been farming pigs for more than four decades, which means that Christophe has a fabulous resource at his disposal.
Earlier this year Christophe opened Restaurant Christophe in Stellenbosch, which I’ve been meaning to get to. This man produces wonderful food.
We’ve had several fabulous winter lunches at Joostenberg Bistro, during which we’ve worked our way through numerous bottles of the Joostenberg Bakermat red blend. Good stuff.
So, on Sunday we had the opportunity of experiencing the extended Myburgh family’s wines and food in a different context, in the form of a family day at the Joostenberg manor house. For R110 per person (yes, that’s correct, one hundred and ten rand) we had the finest spit-roasted pork ever. Actually, it may have been the most delicious pork I’ve ever eaten. Days later, I’m still salivating over the milky tenderness of the ribs that I fished out at the buffet.
The barrel-fermented Fairhead Chenin/Viognier blend was a wonderful accompaniment to the pork, but it was as enjoyable when we were sipping it while sitting on picnic blankets in the shade of the oak trees.
From the teenaged Myburghs ticking visitors’ names off at the entrance, to Christophe tending the spit, and Philip, Tyrrel and their wives chatting to guests, it was a fabulous expression of hospitality. They certainly didn’t make a profit on the day, and may not even have covered their costs, but I very much hope they’ll do it again soon.
These days there’s no shortage of places to have lunch on wine farms; this kind of personal involvement (not to mention value) is rare. Make the most of it while it lasts!
Positive Joostenberg associations keep piling up.