Allow me to borrow a phrase from John Platters fantastic book, ‘My Kind of Wine’. During a recent recce into the Overberg wine region of the Southern Cape, in particular the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, I was led off the beaten track to meet Hannes Storm. And it was here I discovered the makings of greatness.
Just 2,7km past Newton Johnson and 300m before the Spookfontein entrance, you will find a stone-walled entrance leading to a winding road that takes you to the compact home of Storm Wines. It’s not somewhere you will find in tourism literature, but something special is happening behind these scenes. Although the valley is frenetic with winemakers preparing for the start of the imminent 2017 harvest, Hannes’s welcome is warm as he draws me into his modest cellar. It is packed with French oak barrels and just as we start chatting, neighbour and fellow winemaker, Gordon Newton Johnson, comes bounding in. Newton Johnson himself is renowned for making some of the best wines in the valley, yet is quick to praise how well Hannes’s wines were received the previous evening – when a valley tasting was held for a US wine critic.
The sincerity and positivity of Gordon’s comments can be felt rippling through the valley. The ‘old guard’ comprising of Anthony Hamilton Russell, Peter Finlayson (Bouchard Finlayson) and Kevin Grant (Ataraxia) is being boosted by vitality and camaraderie of the Newton Johnson Family, the enigmatic team at Creation and the passionate youngsters such as Gerhard Smith of La Vierge and Hannes Storm of Storm Wines.