Heidi Custers

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Heidi Custers

Johannesburg, South Africa
Heidi Custers

Ah, the life of a wino

5 June, 2011, by Heidi, category My life, That internet stuff, Tweetups, Twitter

Not many people know this, but I studied wine. No, not as in I poured myself a glass and then looked intently at it before drinking it… as in; I have a Cape Wine Academy Diploma. In theory, I know how to grow, harvest, make, bottle and mature wine, anywhere in the world.

And I definitely know how to taste it! In fact, when I worked at Browns, the farms and distributors would arrive at 10am every morning to try and convince us to stock their wines in our cellar. Which means I started drinking (I was never very good at spitting, I dribbled everywhere) at 10am! So when I started working at the bank, I’d start craving wine while everyone was drinking their morning coffee.

Over the years my career drifted further and further away from wine, my first great love. I never really let go though, whenever I interview someone I ask them what they would be doing with their life if they could choose anything and money wasn’t a consideration. My answer will always be “Winemaker”.

So, as you can imagine, when Andy Hadfield approached me earlier this year and asked me to write for Real Time Wine, I jumped at the chance. It’s a fabulous concept and since reviews are generally 140 characters, it doesn’t require a huge time commitment. I am also drawn to the down to earth nature of the reviews, there are a whole bunch of banned words that keep us from becoming like the cliched bow-tie wearing, bearded, tweed sporting, nose-in-the-air, wine snobs.
Hmmm… you know, that actually perfectly describes one of SA’s most respected wine writers and that, IMHO, is exactly what is wrong with the industry… it’s still just farming FFS! You dont ever see Free State maize farmers sniffing and swirling their crop, do you?

Anyway, I digress. This week we had our 1st Real Time Wine Bloggers evening, in association with Winestyle Magazine. It was held at HQ restaurant in Sandton, which has decided to go against everything that Sandton is about and offer only steak, chips and salad. I’m not joking, if you dont eat steak, chips and salad, dont go there. But, hell, that steak is amazing!

All in all I think the simplicity of HQ was a perfect metaphor for the evening; Good company (Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright is one of the nicest people I’ve met this year), good wine (See 2009 Vondeling Baldrick Shiraz) and great food almost made me forget that I had the beginnings of a nasty cold and I had just fallen down the stairs at a client (long story, for another post).

The lesson of the evening was taught to us in a blind tasting – cheap wine does not necessarily equal bad wine, expensive wine does not necessarily equal good wine. My favourite 3 wines were the cheaper ones… and even though I’ve studied and tasted some of the ‘best’ wines on earth… that is just fine by me.

Here is a full list of the wines, with my reviews:

  • 2008 Hermanspietersfontein 1855 Posmeester (Bordeaux blend) @ R74
    • I said “Bitter lemon peel… In a red!? Slaps you in the face”
  • 2007 Hermanspietersfontein Kleinboet (Bordeaux blend) @ R110
    • I said “Under-ripe raspberries, then… Nothing”
  • 2009 Vondeling Bladrick Shiraz @ R58
    • I said “Chai tea and dark chocolate… Makes me want to have a hot bath”
  • 2007 Vondeling Erica Shiraz @ R118
    • I said “Like licking a page from a magazine printed on sugarcane paper. And I’ve done that tonight so I know.”
  • 2010 Simonsig Adelberg Red (Bordeaux blend) @ R48
    • I said “I feel like I ate a mouthful of farm dirt with pavlova… And liked it”
  • 2008 Simonsig Tiara (Bordeauxblend) @ R182
    • I said “Watered down ribena. Meh”

And a full list of the amazing people who attended:

P.S. If you like wine, subscription to Winestyle Magazine is free (for the moment). It’s a very pretty coffee table mag, it’s green (printed on sugar-cane paper, no over printing) and the content is good. All you need to do is go to www.wine-style.co.za and click on the top right of the page and you can subscribe there.


  1. Angel |

    That’s fascinating, I never knew that about you. And you still want to make wine even after career changes and stuff!
    And that restaurant sounds like a place my Glugster and I would love.