South African Winemaker's Teenage Anthems

"If music be the food of love, play on," observed Bill Shakespeare. Obviously, this was before Celine Dion, so I can forgive him (just). Personally, I find a more intimate relationship between music and wine rather than food, existent since time immemorial. I suppose you could say I am living proof of a lineage of wine critics with a burning passion for music. Think of Robert Parker slipping a few Neil Young references into his articles and Michael Broadbent, never able to leave ivories un-tinkled whenever he spots a piano, all the way back to Andre Simon, former DJ at Ibiza's Manumission.

When I was touring the Cape, I visited dozens of growers and after the wines had been tasted, interviews completed, scores dished out, I asked the same question to every grower, just as I did in Oregon...

"What is the song that you remember when you were a teenager growing up?"

What would yours be?

I guess it depends what age you feel constitutes "growing up". I thought of several songs that sound-tracked my youth, some of them cooler than others. In the end I picked Jermaine Stewart's 1986 R&B classic: "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off". Apologies to those reading this who now have the earworm chorus lodged in their brain. It reminds me of being 15 and going to a nightclub for the first time, the scent of dry ice and cheap perfume hanging intoxicatingly in the air. It's a catchy throwaway piece of pop trash that does my music credentials no good whatsoever, the only redeeming nugget of information that I unearthed, that David Fincher directed the video. Amazing how he went from this bit of froth to the film "7". When I hear this song on the radio, I am momentarily back in my chinos and disgusting striped black and white shirt from C&A, eyeing up girls and getting nowhere. It was my first foray into having a good time and what was more, I didn't have to take my clothes off, even though at that age it was all I fantasized about.

Anyway, the responses from South African winemakers were candid. Occasionally the question elicited interesting anecdotes that surprised the respondent: such is the power of a song to dig up memories. I would love to be able to use this data to analyze the psyche of the South African winemaker in 2015 but hey, this is just a bit of fun. The only conclusions that I could come to were:

  1. South African winemakers a partial to a bit of cheese, from Vanilla Ice to Roxette.
  2. The group "Indecent Obsession" must have been a popular teenage anthem in South Africa. I had never heard of it. 
  3. Strangely, grunge was popular (Nirvana, Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins), more popular than in Oregon from where that scene spawned. 
  4. Eben Sadie may be shrouded in a shaman-like aura, but that evaporates as soon as I imagine him jumping around to the excellent "99 Red Balloons" by Nena.
  5. Following on, perhaps there is an inverse relationship between "dude" and "music". I now have visions of Chris Alheit rapping along to Snow's "Informer", Alex Starey busting some moves to Vanilla Ice and Gavin Raats jumping up and down on his bed to Billy Idol. You don't get these nuggets of information with other wine publications.

The List

The choices are simply listed in the order that I met winemakers...

Alex Starey - Keermont - Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

(Neal says: totally embarrassing when it was released, somehow Vanilla Ice was so naff he become kind of cool. At least in Stellenbosch.)

David Schulz - Kleinood - Jimi Hendrix - Foxy Lady

Peter-Allen Finlayson - Crystallum - Pixies - Into The Mountain

Chris Alheit – Alheit Family - Snow – Informer

(Neal says: was he the early 90s Eminem?)

Duncan Savage - Savage Wines - The Cult - Wild Flower

Mick Craven – Craven Wines - Green Day - Basketcase

John Seccombe - Thorne & Daughters - Diana Ross & the Supremes - Baby Love (His mum played it in the car when it was warming it up to drive.)

Thinus Kruger - Fram - Indecent Obsession - Strawberry Lips (or Kiss Me)

(Neal says: I had never heard of Indecent Obsession, but obviously it was popular amongst the kids in South Africa.)

Louis Strydom - Ernie Els - Queen - I Want To Break Free

(Neal says: great song. It killed off their American audience who couldn't take the entire band dressed in drag for the video.)

Bruce Jack - Flagstone - Eddie Grant - Electric Avenue (Bruce said that this song was playing when plucking up the courage to ask a girl out. But the time he did, she was "off the market".)

Carl Schultz - Hartenberg - Bob Marley - Buffalo Soldier (Carl remembers listening to this classic whilst out in the bush aged 19. It was his favourite song.)

Andrew Gunn - Iona - Beatles - Here Comes The Sun

Samantha O'Keefe - Lismore - Depeche Mode - Dreaming of Me

(One of the coolest entries, not just because it's Depeche Mode, but one of their less known 80s classics)

James Downes - Shannon - Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder - Ebony and Ivory

(Neal says: errr...not the best song either artist ever wrote.)

Andy Hamilton Russell - Hamilton Russell - Uriah Heap - In July

Rudiger Gretschel - Reyneke - Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

(Neal says: I will always remember hearing this for the first time played live on "The Word", a late night TV show. Worth looking up on Youtube. Changed everything.)

Mark Kent - Boekenhoetskloof - Mark Kent - Supertramp - The Logical Song

Gottfried Mocke - Boekenhoetskloof - Pink Floyd - The Wall ("I was obsessed with it," said Gottfreid)

Murray Barlow - Rustenberg - OMC - How Bizarre (Murray said that this was the first CD that he bought)

Johann de Wet - De Wetshof - Roxette - The Look

Adam Mason - Mulderbosch - Belinda Carlisle - Heaven Is A Place On Earth

(Neal says: I too was in love with Belinda when this came out. One foxy lady.)

Rebecca Tanner - Fable Mountain Vineyards - INXS - Need You Tonight

Paul Nicholls - Fable Mountain Vineyards - Smashing Pumpkins – 1979

(Neal says: my favourite Pumpkins song. Great melody and a hypnotic drum beat.)

Peter Shilling - Rijk's – David Bowie - Space Oddity (Peter said that his father played it loud every night)

Mike Ratcliffe - Warwick - Janis Joplin - Me & Bobby McGee (Mike said that his mum loved Janis Joplin)

Johann Krige - Kanonkop - The Beatles - Hard Day's Night

Ken Forrester – Ken Forrester Wines - The Beatles - Help

Paul Boutinot - Waterkloof - The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon (Paul Boutinot said that this Ray Davies masterpiece came out when he was living at his grandmother's house in France)

Andre van Rensberg - Vergelegen - Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get) No Satisfaction

Bruwer Raats - Raats - U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name

Gavin Raats - Raats - Billy Idol - Monie Monie (Bruwer said that Gavin was always jumping on his bed to this great 80's cover when Gavin was six year sold)

Carl van der Merwe – De Morgenzon - U2 - I Still Haven't Fine What I'm Looking For

Chris Williams - Meerlust/The Foundary - Sisters of Mercy - Lucretia My Reflection - also Beethoven - (Chris said: "My dad was into big powerful orchestral number that he played on a Sunday morning.")

Eben Sadie - Sadie - Nena - 99 Red Balloons

(Neal says: classic from 1984 though I prefer the German version.)

Scott Opperman - Lammershoek - Mike & the Mechanics - The Living Years

Adi Badenhorst - Badenhorst Family Wines - Bob Marley - No Woman, No Cry

Andrea Mullineux - Mullineux - Pet Shop Boys - Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)

(Neal says: well Andrea, you know what they say, the only to make a small fortune in wine is...)

Rosa Kruger (old vine saviour) - Beethoven - Fleur de Lys ("I played this when I started playing piano," remarked Rosa, who also suggested Janis Joplin - Cry Baby)

Justin van Wyk - Constantia Glen - Dire Straits - Walk of Life

(Neal says: I detest this song. I find it intensely twee and annoying. Much prefer "Romeo & Juliette")

Stuart Botha - Beau Constantia - Coolio – Gangsta's Paradise (Stuart did utter the words "Aqua - Barbie Girl" but this was instantly retracted)

Thomas Webb - Thelema - The Cure - The Love Cats - ("My brother got me into this song," recalled Thomas. His brother had taste.)

Miles Mossop - Tokara/Miles Mossop - Alphaville - Forever Young (Like Thomas Webb, apparently Miles's brother got him into this, although clearly his brother did not quite have such discerning taste as Thomas's.)

JC Martin - Creation - The Cure - Boys Don't Cry

Petrus Bosman - Bosman Family Vineyards- Indecent Obsession - Strawberry Lips

(Neal says: another vote for Indecent Obsession…what is it about this song?)

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