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You'll soon be able to buy wine from La Boqueria online

This restaurant in Parktown North, Joburg, boasts a wine selection so niche you’d struggle to find a lot of their tipples in normal bottle stores

19 January 2019 - 00:00 By Catherine Black
When it comes to wines, La Boqueria is all about authenticity.
When it comes to wines, La Boqueria is all about authenticity.
Image: Supplied

These days, La Boqueria is as well known for its tapas as it is for its unusual wine selection. Featuring around 90 bottles, its wine list changes around three to four times a year, with wines by the glass changing almost every week.

They emphasise producers who focus on organic and biodiverse farming, as well as natural wines. This means that their selection is so niche you’d struggle to find a lot of them in normal bottle stores – to solve this, you’ll soon be able to buy the wines directly from them online.

La Boqueria’s sommelier Jaco Smit tells us more.  

Tell us about the unusual arrangement of your wine list?

Most restaurants in South Africa group their wine by variety. But a single wine variety can have many different styles – so you can have a chardonnay from a cool climate that’s very refreshing and clean, or one that’s from a warmer climate that’s very dense and full bodied.

So, we rather structure our wine list by style and flavour, for example, our “Quench” wines are very South African – summery, fruit-forward wines – while our “Nourish” wines are more generous, full-bodied white wines with lots of flavour.

Why do you change your wine list so often?

Organic and biodynamic wine farming means that the yields are much lower. With fewer bottles being produced, we need to replace them regularly. We like to keep unusual varieties that don’t completely freak our customers out, but that encourage them to try something new.

How big is organic wine farming in South Africa?

Just like the sustainable movement with food, wine is following the same trend, and smaller wine producing regions like the Swartland are drawing international attention for the way they’re farming. In fact, most of these winemakers actually end up exporting most of their wines, as the organic market abroad is way bigger. The quality of the wine is great and it’s also less affected – we say they’re wines that “don’t have any makeup on them”.

What about natural wines?

With natural wines, nothing is added to the grapes. They’re pressed and bottled without being filtered or having anything added. The net result is a really interesting wine that can differ quite a lot from one year to the next. Consumers become so used to brands and commercial estates producing wines that taste identical year after year after year.

Who are some notable producers that you feature? 

We’re big fans of Stompi – aka Johan Meyer – who makes many different wines for Mother Rock, Force Majeure and then a pinot noir and chardonnay under his JH Meyer Signature Wines label. Then there’s Adi Badenhorst who has been in the Swartland for a long time, and who we’ve featured from day one. We also feature Bernhard Bredell’s Scions of Sinai label. It’s only his second vintage, but winemaking runs in the family – his dad Anton Bredell was a well-known Stellenbosch winemaker in the 80s and 90s).

Most unusual kind of wine you feature?

Probably our skin-contact white wines – known as our “orange” wines. They’re wines made from white grape varieties where the skin is macerated in the juice for longer periods of time, so they become orange in colour. They usually taste like white wines but feel like red wines, as they have tannins and texture.

This article was originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guide. Visit Yourneighbourhood.co.za