In preparing to speak to Bruce Jack for this interview there were very apparently too many avenues to explore. Thankfully, Bruce doesn’t shy away from engaging and digging deep on subjects that one might not expect to cover in a wine orientated interview.
Instead of transcribing, that would take me forever, I have tidied up the interview for Youtube and as an inaugural podcast for the SecretSommelier podcast channel (I will not be waxing lyrical about anything on the channel but will be adding interviews with wine pro’s to the channel).
This is a summary of topics covered:
The Jack Journal - Bruce Jack Wines was due to be published and launched in Dusseldorf at ProWein in March. This was largely due to the printer being the only carbon-neutral printer that Jack could find. As discussed in this interview, being a brand that stands for something is important, especially when the brand is your own name.
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Portugal & history
My article for the Jack Journal was based upon four trips to Portugal in 2019 and an impressionistic/anecdotal view of how climate change was being felt in this North-Western part of the Iberian Peninsula (Vinho Verde, Douro and Dao).
Bruce uses Portuguese grapes in his own wines and says he is ‘enamoured’ with Portugal from a historical perspective as well as from the viticultural perspective, citing the Methuen Trade Treaty of 1703 that bonded Britain to Portugal, ensuring that we Brits were flooded with Portuguese wines for the duration.
Yum Yum factor in wine
We touch on Bruce Jack wines and the ‘Yum Yum’ factor, a translation of what I have previously referred to on this site as a one-more-glass syndrome.
Personal mythologies - giving life meaning
The concept of identity is a major part of this interview. Not just Jack’s own identity but the sense of identity that we all have and how that connects us to our own perception of who we are based on what he calls personal mythologies.
South African pandemic crisis - The HeadStart Trust
The Jack Journal is certainly a publication that explores values and interests that Jack has on his mind, however, the postponement of its release due to the pandemic gains wider definition with the crisis that engulfed South Africa when locking down the population and shutting down the economy.
Jack discusses how he and his team have pivoted to from winemaking to being aid workers in the Cape region seeking out and helping those people who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ and are most vulnerable to starvation, abuse, or any other impact from privation.
Of course, the Jack Journal is now live and can be read for free online here. The interview below gives some insight into the identity of the inquisitive man who conceived it… so charge up the glass and have a listen.
Bruce Jack, The Drift Estate; winemaking in a cool climate on the edge of what is possible
Movable Feast, Estate Red Bland, 2015 Bruce Jack Wines- 40% Malbec, 32% Syrah, 10% Pinot Noir, 10% Touriga Nacional, 8% Tannat
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The idea of a movable feast conjures for me images of drifting around Montparnasse in a summery light with the pain of hunger in my belly. My own memories blended seamlessly with Ernest’s detailed descriptions of disgruntled waiters at Cafe Flor, La Rotonde, or the Deux Magots. Somewhere during the lunch the memories fade and in the afternoon you can find my legs upended on a patch of grass in the Luxembourg Gardens, sleeping off the exertions of a generous lunch. I digress…
This bottle of wine scatters the attention from the outset; do you focus on the artwork, the storytelling presentation of the wine or do you take a moment to anticipate this unlikely assemblage of grapes?
Deep ruby colour, lots of dark berry fruits on the nose, a touch of white pepper. Comes alive in the mouth with layers of ripe fruit, chocolate, elegant structure and deliciously long. My favourite of the Jack wines that I have tasted. Keeps me coming back for more. Still very youthful. A balanced blend that really works.
In the interview, Bruce points out that these are high altitude vineyards at around 500m and located 48km’s from the southern ocean. He says he trying to make wines on the edge of what is possible, adding, “Imagine trying to grow Touriga Nacional in Burgundy!”
The Drift Farm, Over The Moon 2018 Overberg, Bruce Jack Wines - Blend of: Cinsault/Touriga Franca/Shiraz 2018 (13.5%)
Two more Portuguese varieties in the blend. Cherry and spices, that French word garrigue springs to mind. Quite striking. Soft and silky tannic structure but with a lightness of touch that leaves the palate wanting.
Bruce Jack Wines:
This is a fabulous selection of everyday drinking wines, priced very democratically and available in supermarkets in the UK and, I believe, Northern Europe. Producing quality wine one a large scale consistently cannot be easy. Especially when well over half of the cost gets eaten up by taxes, etc.
Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Bruce Jack, S Africa - Western Cape - (13%)
Gooseberry, apple, lime, mouthwateringly fresh, remarkably good value. (£6 in the UK from Sainsbury’s)
Chenin Blanc 2019, Bruce Jack, S Africa - Western Cape - (13%)
Peaches & cream, soft sweetness with a hint of vanilla, and refreshingly clean finish. Serve chilled on a summer evening and watch the sunset from your lockdown stay-cation! (£6 in the UK from Sainsbury’s)
Pinotage/Malbec 2019, Bruce Jack, S Africa - Western Cape (14.5%)
This is a crowd-pleasing wine. Black cherries, thyme… it will keep you sipping. (£6 in the UK from Sainsbury’s)
Shiraz 2018, Bruce Jack, S Africa, Western Cape (14.5%)
Bright colour, ripe plummy and even summer fruit, black pepper, wild herbs. Very easy going wine. (£7 in the UK from Sainsbury's)