For decades this unique Aperitif inspired barmen all over the world. Then, in the 1930s, the company that made it disappeared, and with it the product as well as the recipe. Subsequently, mixologists and bartenders from all over the world referred to the defunct Caperitif as the “ghost ingredient.” Fast forward almost 100 years to when Adi Badenhorst finally revived this ghost ingredient with the launch of the new Caperitif. A high quality white wine base (made on Kalmoesfontein) is the starting point. Then, a neutral grape-derived alcohol spirit is added to increase the alcohol to at least 16% ABV. Once this level of alcohol is achieved, at least 45 different ingredients are added. These ingredients include a variety of fruits, garden herbs, spices, a bouquet of various flowers, some roots and barks for bitterness as well as the distinctive and unique Fynbos. Fynbos is the collective name for the 8,500 different species of plants that grow in the Cape Floral Region. Many of these plants have been harvested and utilized for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and are intensely aromatic, imparting a unique aroma to the Caperitif. A portion of each batch is matured in old oak casks and blended back into the “fresh” Caperitif to add even more complexity to the final product. Caperitif can be enjoyed like most aperitifs or vermouths—simply with ice, or in many different cocktails.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The property is owned by the dynamic and good-looking cousins Hein and Adi Badenhorst. They are originally from Constantia. Their grandfather was the farm manager of Groot Constantia for 46 years. Their fathers were born there and farmed together in Constantia, during the days when people still ate fresh vegetables and Hanepoot grapes, drank Cinsault and there were a lot less traffic lights and hippies still had a presence. Together these two have restored a neglected cellar on the farm that was last used in the 1930s to make natural wines in the traditional manner.
With an important wine renaissance in full swing, impressive red and white bargains abound in South Africa. The country has a particularly long and rich history with winemaking, especially considering its status as part of the “New World.” In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century.
Today, however, South Africa is increasingly responsible for high-demand, high-quality wines—a blessing to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot. But the Benguela Current from Antarctica provides brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening of grapes. Similarly, cooler, high-elevation vineyard sites throughout South Africa offer similar, favorable growing conditions.
South Africa’s wine zones are divided into region, then smaller districts and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for red-fruit-driven, spicy, earthy reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following close behind.
Historically a dry, herb-infused, and sometimes pleasantly bitter fine wine, today vermouth is indispensable to any modern mixologist. Typically vermouths are Italian if red and sweet and French if golden and drier in character.