2015 Konkelberg Rouge Blend



Tired of thinking about taxes?

Tired of figuring out taxes?

Or maybe you just don’t feel like paying taxes this year.

Well, I’ve got one of the greatest – and oldest – ways to avoid paying taxes: drinking Konkelberg wine.

But first, is it legal?  Of course not.  But if you’re one of the settlers of South Africa during the oppressive years of the Vereenigde Oost- Indische Compagnie (the once-mighty Dutch East India Company), you’d do it anyway.  Here’s the scoop:

After the disastrous Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (what we Americans call our Revolutionary War), the Dutch government was in such dire financial straits that it imposed massive taxes on all its remaining colonies.  These taxes were on nearly all commercial goods flowing from the colonies to the home country and / or back again.  These taxes were so incendiary – and the home government was so far away (recognize a pattern here?) – that most colonists felt completely justified in not paying them.

Not wanting to pay tax and actively not paying tax are two very different things. In one particular colony, South Africa, a scheme was worked out for avoidance – going to the Konkelberg.  The Konkelberg is an easy-to-traverse mountain pass between the two ranges of Stellenbosch and Helderberg.  To this day it is one of the most stunning stretches of land in all of South Africa.  Besides being accessible, this little piece of heaven was completely secluded from the tax collectors in the major cities.  Simply offload your goods, go and meet up at the Konkelberg, trade and sell away in an (illegally) tax-free zone, and come back to town a richer man, with no one the wiser. This situation actually continued on straight into the British “occupation” and eventually into the Boer Wars at the turn of the 20th century.

If you know South Africa well, you know its concomitant and longstanding history with wine.  Yes, it’s true: When European settlers first made it to the Cape of Good Hope, they planted vines.  As the colony grew, so did wine production.  And as you might guess given from where this epistle originates, the Konkelberg region also grew famous for its wines – and it still is.  It’s here, among the sunny hillside slopes leading into the pass, that produces some of Stellenbosch’s most opulent, vibrant, and delicious red blends.  Before long, the tax evasion spot also became a spot for a wine festival.

Fully biodynamic, the Konkelberg Red Blend (Cabernet Franc with other varieties) jumps out of the glass with raspberry jam, framboises and plump red fruit notes.  Made by one of South Africa’s hottest vintners, Hendrien de Munck, the palate shows his skillful hand in creating a soft and supple midpalate that is full of cool fruits, and totally smooth and rounded.  It drinks like dreaming about a plump tax return, but also isn’t priced to eat up said tax return.

A wine and a wine festival that celebrates tax evasion.  Is there anything that could make this time of year better?  I think not!  Cheers.