“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Allan.


On Tuesday night, I, along with a few CN&CO partners went to the latest edition of the Meet the SA Winemakers – Dinner series. They also offer a lunch version.

The connection here is that most of us at CN&CO love drinking wine, and therefore, we are all mates with the brilliant Derek Kilpin from Great Domaines. This is his brain child and when listening to him do the introductions, there is no wonder why this series is so successful.

Derek knows most, if not all, of the local winemakers and even went to school with a few.

The evening was paired with some delicious food, made by chef Jack Coetzee of Urbanologi. There were a few things that I wouldn’t normally eat but the way in which Jack described each dish at the start of every flight (a term coined by Kilpin to indicate a round of food and wine pairing), I simply had to try them. An example of such a dish was the very first item – anchovy slivers on a crispy chicken skin with sesame emulsion. Tell you what, it was amazing! And paired with the right wine, it got even better.

After the first flight, I made a point of tasting the wine before the tapas it was to be paired with to note how the flavour changed. WOW!

With each flight, we received three wines as well as three tapas to pair them with. Each wine and meal having a story of their own.
Derek would introduce each of the wine makers, and they would then tell us a little bit about themselves and their wine.
Interestingly, not all of them grow their own grapes but get a small percentage of the harvest from a farmer in a selected region.

Pieter Walser from Blankbottle, explained the naming of his wine range “I was making wines that didn’t have a label, barcode and I wasn’t, at the time, a licenced winemaker. The cops one day raided and seized all my wine. The very next day, a woman called me and asked if I had any wine for her to buy as she had tasted it before, but not a Shiraz, as she doesn’t like it. I went to my kitchen and the only bottles I had were shiraz. I told her it was merlot. I got a call a few days later from the same woman saying it was the most delicious wine she had tasted. It was from this that I decided not to state on the bottle what grape it is as people have a preconceived idea of a wine based on the grape noted on the bottle”

With that, Pieter’s Blankbottle wines range from; Moment of silence, to Jimny, to Nothing to Declare.

Another interesting story was from Donovan Rall, from Rall Wines who told us about his 2017 chenin blanc, that has won many awards and has become their most successful wine. The interesting part is not all the awards it has won but that due to the drought that is currently gripping the Western Cape, and the conditions associated with it, the grapes will never mature this way again, so they will not be able to reproduce this particular chenin again. Owing to this, he named the wine after his daughter.

All in all, it was a magnificent night out and even the cold did not detract from the evening.

If you want to attend the next Meet the SA Winemakers – Lunch & Dinner series, subscribe to the Great Domaines newsletter where you will also read about other aspects of the wine culture.