Matawi Mead: Great for your Palate and the Planet
On the 28th of October 2020, members of the South African Mead Masters Association (SAMMA) were privileged to showcase their respective offerings to an illustrious group of Cape Town beverage connoisseurs, who converged at the specialist wine and food pairing venue, Auslese. Convened at the invitation of certified sommelier and wine educator, Roxan Waldeck, the group, who comprised independent and restaurant-affiliated sommeliers and representatives from Wine of the Month Club, Gorgeous George Hotel, Chefs Warehouse, Wine Concepts, the South African Sommeliers Association, the Sommeliers Academy and Paserene Wine Estate, were treated to a full-suite mead tasting. Despite its growing international popularity and historical provenance in cultures throughout the world – including among others those of ancient Greece, Rome, India, China and, closer to home, the among the Khoisan (!Karri), Ethiopian and Xhosa communities – not many South Africans have experienced the wide-ranging styles and variants of contemporary mead available. SAMMA is on a mission to change this!
Dr Ernst Thompson, SAMMA chairperson and Co-founder/CEO of The Cape Town Mead Company (CTMC), welcomed guests with a glass of Africa’s first (and only!) naturally bottlefermented mead, Melaurea. Thompson regaled guests with the technical challenges inherent in fermenting the perennially stable honey, highlighting the innovations his company has achieved by drawing on wine-making techniques to forge a decidedly avant garde meadery. Thompson also introduced guests to CTMC’s braggot (honey-laced ale) and fortified mead (mead liquor) a smooth-drinking and well-balanced mead reminiscent of sherry. Cape Mead founder, Alistair Keay, who was unable to join proceedings, allowed his beverages to speak for themselves. Cape Mead’s cyzer – an apple cider and mead blend – provided a surprising marriage of sweet, tart, and bracingly crisp. Brendon Cloete, founder and head mazer of Cloete Mead House, presented a distinctive, wooded, aged (2013) Cederberg orange blossom traditional dry mead. This small-batch mead with gentle citrus tones was well received. Cloete’s Berry Melomel, an offdry mead blended with oaked strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry meads proved an all-round favourite, evoking nostalgia in some of those present.

Nokukhanya Mncwabe, co-founder/CEO of Matawi expressed her aspiration to ensure that the gogos who’ve served as custodians of iqhilika methods and recipes archive their knowledge and stories and participate, where possible, in Matawi’s value chain. She expressed a desire to see mead assert itself as a ubiquitous African libation served to welcome guests, officially launch lobola negotiations, toast graduations and generally celebrate African customs. Matawi showcased its berry and hibiscus mixer, a lightly carbonated lower alcohol-content mead enjoyed on its own or as a complement to Matawi’s distilled mead (honey gin), made from Cape Fynbos honey, which offers a delicate mulled bouquet.

Cape Town Mead Company | FB & IG:@melaureamead
Cloete Mead House
|IG: @cloetemeadhouse
Cape Mead Company

Matawi | IG: @matawi_experience | FB: matawiexperience