Busting the Big Tank Myth: Durbanville Hills (by Mike Veseth)

Posted: January 23, 2013 by wynmaker in Cellars, Oenology, Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa, Vintage, Wine, Wineries, World wine news
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There are easier ways to get to Durbanville Hills Winery than aboard a snorkel-equipped Land Rover, but I don’t think there’s a better way to go.

They brought out the 4×4 vehicles (snorkel-equipped — who knew? — so the engines can breathe even in deep water crossings) so that we could experience and appreciate the hills, the vineyards and the rugged terrain even before we came to the winery itself and the braai lunch that was planned for us there.

 

Surrounding vineyards.

 

My visit to Durbanville Hills Winery started as adventure and became a learning experience about the diverse nature of wine in South Africa. Now it is also Exhibit A in the case against the One Big Tank myth that I wrote about last week.

 

Entrance to Durbanville Hills Cellar at night.

Entrance to Durbanville Hills Cellar at night.

 

The Big Tank theory is that giant wine and drinks companies with dozens of brands in their portfolios offer consumers the illusion of choice, not real choice. It’s as if all the different wines came out of one big tank.  Although there is a grain of truth in this idea, I think it is fundamentally bogus and Durbanville Hills is a case in point.

From Oom Tas to Nederberg Noble

Durbanville Hills Winery is part of the Distell drinks empire. As I wrote last week, Distell is South Africa’s largest wine and spirits producer and is a global power in several beverage categories. They superficially fit the Big Tank stereotype, but within their range of brands you will find choices over a wide range starting with very basic wines such as Oom Tas (described as “an inexpensive, dry, golden, unsophisticated wine of constantly good quality and taste”) and Kellerprinz (” an unpretentious, fun wine, its quality is nevertheless good and consistent, offering value for money”) and moving on up the ladder to the rather special Nederberg Noble Late Harvest wine I wrote about last year.
Read on …

 

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Comments
  1. wynmaker says:

    Thank you Mike!

    I am “forty-something” that recently decided to change careers by graduating in 2011 as a wine maker from the Elsenburg training institude in Stellenbosch. I did my first harvest at Durbanville Hills Wines in 2012, and is currently temporarily employed at the cellar. We are all in anticipation for the 2013 harvest to begin.

    Your article makes me proud as a South African and even prouder to be associated with “the Hills”!

    Regards,
    Johan Botha

    PS: We will have to organize a trip for Pinotage-hater Lettie Teague, rather sooner than later! (-:

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