Wine is about stories, and over the last year I’ve noticed that my writing, particularly about wine, has evolved and I’ve for the most part, stopped telling the stories. This is me, attempting to share a little bit of myself while simultaneously sharing about the stunning wine story of Mischa Wines. Here goes…
For those of you who don’t know, I’m in a long distance relationship. Relationships are hard enough without the added obstacle of distance but before you pity me to much, we’re doing pretty well and I say many thankful prayers for the Wright brothers and the gift of flight as well as for low-cost airlines. Without the two, who’s to say where Fave Human and I would be? Every month (twice, if we’re lucky), one of us schleps across the country for some quality time. On my part, this involves taking a day (or half a day) off to prep – yes, I’m a last-minute packer – and go spend some time guzzling the free booze in the airport lounge while Instagram-ing planes so my friends can be jealous of my midweek life.
Now, it’s important to note that we’ve been together a long time now, and I no longer doll myself up for a two hour flight (annoys him to no end). Besides the fact that I’m a transport sleeper, who really wants to fly with a full face-beat? As a result, I look like a cute hobo when I fly. I’m talking sweatpants, one of
his my hoodies, sneakers and my glasses (you know it’s game over when I’ve let go of all vanity). The only clue as to my grown-up status is probably the cost of my shoes and well, the fact that they let me into the lounge.
On one particularly busy Friday afternoon (all Friday afternoons are nightmares in airports), I arrived early to avoid traffic and settled in a window seat to watch take-offs and landings. To my absolute delight, there was a wine-tasting being conducted in the lounge. Turns out in 2019, Bidvest Premier Lounges partnered up with Michelangelo winning wines and spirits to treat guests to some excellent bottles during their stints in the spaces. On this particular afternoon, the exhibiting award winner was Mischa Wine Estate. (Finally, the thing you came for!)
Mischa’s winemaker, Andrew Barnes and his wife, Rachel introduced me to some of their premier wines and because of who I am as a person, I chatted them up, whined for a second glass of their unique, limited edition Créer (a delicious mourvèdre, grenache & shiraz blend) and took their contact details because of #beccaswineswap. I also bought a bottle of shiraz because anytime is a good time to buy a good bottle of shiraz. Fave Human rolled his eyes at me when I exited the airport clutching my bag and a bottle of wine, looking happier than I usually did after a flight.
Fast-forward a few months and significantly more emails, Andrew came through to #beccaswineswap and one of the best swaps took place in our home with some genuinely interested people, who walked away with a bunch of heartwarming wine stories, less money and a whole lot more wine knowledge. I think it was extra special for me because Fave Human happened to be in town and it’s not often that he gets to see my passion in action.
So, Mischa Estate is in Wellington (part of the winelands) and is a third generation family-run farm that was bought just after the Second World War by Andrew’s grandfather. The farm was named after his grandmother’s dance partner, Mikael, in the Russian ballet company, Ballet Russe. Mischa is a common nickname for Mikael in Russian – we love a good story – and soon, the estate became the third largest vine nursery in the southern hemisphere! Mischa wines have consistently received numerous gold or double-gold awards, top marks from both Robert Parker and John Platter and a Trophy for the Best Bordeaux Blend in South Africa from Michelangelo – earning them a spot in the Bidvest lounge that fateful day.
We began with the sauvignon blanc – classic style of one of the most consumed varietals in South Africa. A touch of citrus on the nose and clean, crisp apples and passion fruit on the palate. I’m not gonna harp on too much about it because Andrew makes a beautiful roussanne. So, roussanne is not a very popular varietal but when made well, it’s delicious. It’s characterised by an intense flowery perfume on the nose and on the palate, you get a full bodied wine that has well-balanced acidity and stone fruit (like peaches).
My favourite part, because I have an affinity for red wine, was listening to Andrew almost wax lyrical about the reds. He is a refreshingly honest winemaker. You know how everyone has a favourite child but nobody wants to admit it? Not Andrew. You can tell from the enthusiasm he puts into speaking about the reds and their complexity that that’s where his passion lies. While making wine is an art no matter the colour, he described the art of creating a white versus a red like like juxtaposing a ballerina and a body builder. Both the ballerina and the body builder are strong, dedicated athletes, but are built very differently.
The grenache, a varietal often used for blending, is a medium bodied wine. It is sweet, on the palate and gives wild berry flavours with a fruity finish. It takes mastery to make it a beautiful wine all on its own. The malbec, mistakenly thought to originate in Argentina, originally comes from France, is a bold, incredibly well structured, balanced and elegant wine. Fruity on both the nose and palate, smooth tannins, with black pepper and a sweet tobacco finish.
The cabernet sauvignon Reserve blend is a full bodied and elegant wine. Smokey chocolatey finish. sweet and sour cherry wholesome. My ultimate, the shiraz, is a spectacular red. On the nose you get the classic black fruit, white pepper and spices like cinnamon and maybe vanilla. She is perfectly balanced with silky smooth tannins. I’m obsessed.
Because Mischa is a combination of a wine producing farm and nursery from which other winemakers get their varietals, the entire operation is a labour of love and one of science. Andrew broke down that they don’t feed their plants, they feed their soils which in turn feed their plants. So really, we’re just consuming an expression of Andrew’s soils, to which he tends with a mindfulness of nutrition and plant and grape health. It’s not wonder that his wines are multi award winning beauties.
It’s easy to flatter someone when you are grateful that they believe in what you’re trying to accomplish. But it’s even easier when the person is a genuinely good energy. Thank you to Andrew and Mischa for this experience, and the opportunity to create lasting wine memories that will live in people’s memories as stories, forever.
Love and wine
The Empress xx