It’s a bit of a “watch this space” – the re-launch of wine estate Delaire – but I was reminded of the winery again because SABC3 are rebroadcasting their mini-series on the life of mining legend Barney Barnato. Diamonds have been the vector in a number of rags-to-riches life stories (as they have unfortunately caused worlds of pain) and the more notable the diamond, the bigger the story. The new owner of Delaire, Laurence Graff, is known as the King of Diamonds, so this is one big story.
Graff began as a teenage apprentice in a London diamond workshop and wheeled and dealed his way to the top. He now sells rocks to the likes of Oprah Winfrey and David and Victoria Beckham, along with your usual Saudi prince or two, who buy them like candy. Much of his business is done on private yachts and cities like Monte Carlo and Cannes. He’s the kind of guy that understands the world that James Bond inhabits.
So when he bought this piece of Helshoogte real estate, you knew there would be action and that the action would be worth a look. It’s a corner of the Cape with some pedigree. Thelema and Tokara are immediate neighbours, and Zorgvliet is another rich man’s plaything with a state-of-the-art cellar. Today there’s a lot going on at Delaire, from a total revamp of the cellar and vineyards to the building of a luxury hotel and restaurant. It’s a building site at the moment, but there are no flies on this project. Chris Kelly has been appointed as winemaker, and he’s been told in no uncertain terms that his goal is to make a wine that ranks among the world’s best. Kelly has settled on a very ambitious time-frame of ten years to achieve this.
One expects the new Delaire range to be frightfully expensive. Kelly, who was one of the first Cape winemakers to explore the idea of the flagship white blend with the Kumkani VVS (Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc) will be heartened by the range of whites he has on the farm – and the prices that flagship white wines are being put into the market at these days. For example, Steenberg have just launched their Magna Carta at R395. Steenberg is backed by the deep pockets of mining magnate Graham Beck, so taking these risks with the market is mitigated. Delaire will be in much the same position to make a few statements, and word has it Graff is not shy to make a few.