The climate in the Western Cape is perfect for wine production, with the ideal combination of cool, wet winters and warm dry summers.
The breezes from the mountains, and the Atlantic and Indian oceans, help to cool the vineyards, and slow the ripening process to create intense fruit flavours.
There are many kinds of red grape grown in Cape Town, Pinotage though has a special place in local hearts because it is the only grape that is unique to South Africa. It was invented at Stellenbosch University in 1925. A hybrid of pinot noir and cinsault, Pinotage is a bold and complex wine with a deep red colour. Depending on the age of the wine, you may taste notes of red berries, spice, and chocolate or coffee.
On Saturday there was a different red in town, a British and Irish blend, this one may not have been vintage, but boy did it have kick, and a delicious aftertaste.
The old cliché, a game of two halves, describes the first test between the British and Irish Lions and South Africa perfectly.
South Africa were 12-3 up at half-time thanks to four Handré Pollard penalties, with Dan Biggar kicking one of his own to make sure the Lions were on the board at the interval.
However, an immense second-half comeback saw the Lions overcome the nine-point deficit to win 22-17 and put Warren Gatland’s men one win away from claiming their first series win in South Africa for 24 years.
Having not played at their best in the opening 40 minutes, a change in tactics was the reason for the remarkable turnaround.
In the opening 40 minutes the Lions didn’t have control, looking unsure tactically, they started the second half with a kick and chase, and after being awarded a penalty, captain Alun Wyn Jones decision to go for a kick to touch, and a line out catch and drive resulting in a try for Cowan-Dickie set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Lions looked really comfortable and composed in their own half, and they played possession and territory well in the second half.
In a 10 minute period South Africa conceded five penalties, and then began to look fatigued, unable to find answers to the questions posed by the men in red, who grew in stature the longer the game went on.
Wales and Lions 2017 captain legend Sam Warburton was full of praise post match
“The belief has just shot through the roof,” he said.
“Ali Price continued to box kick well, Van de Merwe performed well. Conor Murray came on and Owen Farrell did well. The kicking game was so much better in the second half and that was the biggest difference”.
“I do think the one moment in the match which was pivotal was when Alun Wyn Jones chose to kick to the corner and not go for the three points. We look back at that now and that’s a massive call.”
One player who received particular praise for his performance was player of the match Maro Itoje, who was a permanent nuisance for the Springboks throughout, his timely turnovers, and his physicality around the pitch went a long way to earning him the man of the match award.
“I think the Lions were smart and excellent for 40 minutes and that will give them huge confidence to go from 12-3 down and turn it around and win. I think they’re in the driving seat now.”
“He really showed what an incredible player he is, and he has the work rate of an engine. At the end of the game he was on his back. When you have a player like him in the side it’s not about what he says, you look over at the side and think if Maro’s still doing it, I better still be doing it.
“One key moment for me was when Maro Itoje ran into [Eben] Etzebeth and got absolutely battered. I thought that wasn’t a good sign, but that seemed to wake him. It was like he thought maybe this was going to be an easy game and just got kicked into gear. He was brilliant.”
So we look forward to the Second test on Saturday, a match where the Springboks will throw the kitchen sink, and the washing machine, at the Lions.
The Lions glass, with or without Pinotage, is half full, but they will have to show an awful lot of bottle next weekend in the face of a wounded Springbok. Another win and they will be surely be painting the town red.