I am very excited that my first cousin, Jose Condé is coming from South Africa to visit Northern Michigan this week. Why is this the topic of my wine blog? Simple, Jose is the owner and artisan winemaker at Stark- Condé winery and a partner with Tormentoso and Essay wines in South Africa..
A native Missourian, Jose moved to South Africa in 1997 where he quickly caught the winemaking “bug” and opened Stark- Condé winery in Stellenbosch in 1998. Formerly being a successful graphic designer, Jose employed his attention to detail and all encompassing artist’s passion into his winemaking, yielding great results. Stark-Condé produces both Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in two tiers: the first labeled “Stellenbosch” and the more select “Three Pines” labeling which are from higher elevation vineyards.
I would argue these wines are the greatest red wines being produced in SA. Fortunately, you do not have to take my word for it, as Jose and his wines were awarded the following at the prestigious Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show in 2013:
- Winner of the Trophy for Best Shiraz – Stark-Condé Three Pines Jonkershoek Syrah 2010 (Jose prefers Syrah as his wines emulate the complex and restrained version made from the same varietal in Northern Rhone)
- Winner of the American Express Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon – Stark-Condé Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (he also won this award for the 2007 vintage making him the only winemaker to ever win it twice!)
- Winner of the Fairbairn Capital Trophy for the Most Successful Producer Overall – 2013
Additionally, Stark- Condé has had dozens of their wines rated in the 90+point range by every reputable wine source. All of this certainly, makes Jose the leader in the thrust for world-class quality in South Africa.
Jose doesn’t stop there though, as I mentioned above, he is a partner in the Tormentoso and Essay line of wines. From Paarl, Tormentoso is adapted from Portuguese explorers who dubbed the area “Cabo Tormentoso” (Cape of Storms) and also used to mean struggle, torment or drama. The name aptly fits this region which is composed of rocky shale soils and farmed using only dry irrigation, where grapes have to struggle to grow. This creates less yield, but more flavorful grapes and hence, better wines. From Swaartland, Essay (a play on words encouraging people to “SAY YES” to South African wines) produces two unconventional blends. Essay White is composed of Chenin Blanc and Viognier and Essay Red is composed primarily of old-vine Shiraz and Cinsaut. Both exhibit remarkable drinkability and are priced for everyday consumption.
Jose will be at the following events:
Thursday, May 14th – Burritt’s Market – Meet Jose and taste wines from Stark-Condé, Tormentoso and Essay Wines
If you cannot make it to these events and want more information, click here to see Woodberry’s Stark-Condé page.
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