Robert Frost reckons that good fences make good neighbours but on the Paardeberg the reverse holds. When Adi Badenhorst moved in next door and became my Siebritskloof (Paardeberg) neighbour, the first thing he did was try to schmooze some old window frames from Deon (my Gauteng builder) and rolled up the fence between his Kalmoesfontein (or Slangwortelfontein as it should be more properly called) and my Lemoenfontein. After I blogged about our mutual near-neighbour Eben Sadie over in Aprilskloof yesterday, thought that in the interests of neighbourliness, an Adi article was in order. This then from this week’s Financial Mail.
If disasters come in threes then good news does too, at least in the case of Adi Badenhorst, eponymous winemaker and proprietor of Badenhorst Family Wines on the Paardeberg. Winemaker at Cape first growth Rustenberg for eight years, he surfed off to the Swartland late last year and promptly produced two Mediterranean blends, one red, one white, that had foreign fundis frothing at Cape Wine 2008, the industry biennial haal uit en wys (sniff, swirl and spit) at the Cape Town Convention Centre.
Arranged by Wines of SA (WOSA, the exporters’ mouthpiece) it was a non-stop party that kicked off at Kevin Arnold’s elegant Waterford spread on the Helderberg on Sunday with a tour de force tasting of the Cape’s most exalted cuvées via a Pete Goffe-Wood culinary extravaganza at his Kitchen Cowboy ranch in Salt River and ending in gastronomic heaven aka the restaurant at Rust en Vrede with dashing David Higgs the perfect image of a celebrity chef.
The Badenhorst foreign fan club came through on Saturday at the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction where his 2005 Auction blend was knocked down for R450 a bottle. At the ultimate pre-auction tasting the previous evening, Badenhorst had called it “an arranged marriage that works” of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Auction organizers, exhibiting a well-developed case of cultural cringe, had hired a former WOSA operative in New York to present the auction lineup to America’s second tier of palates Steve Tanzer and James Molesworth, an employee of US magazine Wine Spectator.
Molesworth is fondly remembered for coining the hilarious malapropism “Poor Vaarterberg” for the Voor Paardeberg ward from which Badenhorst sources the Rousanne and Grenache Blanc grapes for his fat rich white. Clearly holding no grudges, the American adepts delivered 90+ ratings on cue with Badenhorst up among the best. Although quite why you need foreign affirmation of such homegrown idiosyncrasies as Danie Steytler’s Kaapzicht Cape Blend 2006 or Beyers Truter’s Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006 was not explained.
Badenhorst’s Big Day started out in Robertson, at Danie de Wet’s elegant estate which features an exact reproduction of his ancestor’s Koopmans de Wet House, now a museum in Strand Street Cape Town. The occasion was the biennial Celebration of Chardonnay and Badenhorst’s Rustenberg Five Soldiers 2006 had this taster marveling at the refined flavours of apricot and overripe orange which gives new meaning to the hackneyed phrase “possessed of great mid-palate intensity.”
A remarkable achievement with the only thing missing a current employee from Rustenberg to sign-up orders from the assembled foreign wine buyers washed in from Cape Wine 2008, or at least to bask in the spotlight of collective praise.