"Always be innovating" appears to be the motto behind what Publik does as a wine retailer and in its beloved wine bars. Its latest trick is the Kolab Project, a curated range of wines created in collaboration with "select rock-star winemakers" who have chosen to remain anonymous, says Publik founder David Cope.

He explains that keeping their names off the labels is chiefly the winemakers’ own choice. It enables them to release wines that are made "using new and interesting winemaking styles or varieties, [which they have decided] not to include under their own label". It’s also an opportunity for Publik "to sell a wine with the focus on its style rather than on the personality or brand behind it".

For wine drinkers, this is chiefly a chance to sample "great wines that may very well not have been released otherwise", Cope says. His favourite among the first three wines is Mr Fantastic 2017, a white blend of 64% clairette blanche, 29% viognier and 7% chenin blanc that was entirely naturally made. "Perhaps due to seasonality (aka a crazy hot summer) I’ve consumed more of the Mr Fantastic than of the other wines," he says. "It’s a skin-contact wine [one that is fermented together with grape skins], so it’s more interesting than most whites."

Also available now are Ghost & The Darkness Red 2015, built on cinsault (77%) with cabernet franc (15%) and cabernet sauvignon (8%), and "inspired by classic old blends of the Cape, popular 50 to 60 years ago —wines that aged exceptionally well", as well as Disturbance Red 2016, made by one of the Cape’s most revered white wine producers.

There are more wines in the works, with "a super-fresh style of syrah up next", says Cope.

The three offerings feature fabulously fresh label designs by Chris Moore and Ben Eagle. "We’re going to work with a different SA illustrator on each set from now on," Cope says.

R165 a bottle from publik.co.za

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