And so to Twee Jongegezellen in Tulbagh for Luke Krone’s Summer Elegance Party. Sushi, salmon wraps and cheese falling from the sky (almost) like something out of Pieter Bruegel the elder’s Luilekkerland – the Land of Cockaigne – with dad Nicky’s (Nick #1) Krone Rosé (R85 a bottle) or Brut (R65, on special) running off my back like a duck and confirming sparkling wine really is the drink of a lazy Saturday summer afternoon of fashion shows and Lady Gaga under the spreading oaks.
On the way in to Tulbagh from Gouda, I noticed the last magnificent Cape Dutch homestead in Church Street is up for sale and speculated on which recently retired hedge fund manager would snap it up to spend his time shuffling between Paddagang for lunch and TJ for bubbly. Repeating the canny investment decision of Nick Roditi (Nick #2), George Soros’ “secret agent” who now deals for his own account from Keerweder in the Franschhoek Valley. A sunny place for shady people who held their own Cap Classique Festival last weekend.
On the subject of Masters of the Financial Universe, the main drag parallel to Church now boasts a Saronsberg Theatre, yet another initiative from Nick van Huyssteen (Nick #3) who is transforming this sleepy town into a cultural oasis while his wines, together with those of Neville Dorrington at Rijks, are rewriting the Tulbagh wine guide. Art gallery, theatre and now that Barnaby Essenhigh, founder of the Joburg Wine Show, has moved into town and is now operating as a building contractor, expect a building revolution all you wannabe property developers planning to turn Tulbagh into the next Franschhoek after Riebeek-Kasteel. Dad Sir Nigel was the UK’s First Sea Lord which must explain the attraction to this unexpectedly coastal appellation.
Saturday was the birthday of Nick III’s partner Forti, Pretoria restaurateur turned Cape Town retail whizz, but the big man himself was en route to Austria on the track of a recipe for stollen, no doubt. Or gugelhupf, perhaps.
Riebeek-Kasteel (“in that other valley, we don’t speak of it” as the Tulbagh PR lady noted with intent), meanwhile, is buzzing with the latest skandaal in the spittoon over funding for SA attendance at the Hospice du Rhône Syrah/Shiraz extravaganza in Paso Robles, California, in April. Unconsulted stay-at-home members of Shiraz SA (the Shiraz producers’ association) are spitting worse than a barrel full of rattlesnakes.
TJ is located at the end of the road heading into the mountains, 6.5 Km from Tulbagh town. Water tumbles down a cataract outside the tasting room and a sloot in front of the office doubles as a convenient facility for fashion show spectators to cool their feet while watching skinny models show off impossible couture. Chinese pull-throughs that would have stretched the thighs of the Rubensesque indigenous beauties Luke was chaperoning.
My blue wristband entitled me “to as much bubbly as you can drink” as Luke explained and Nick I was full of details of his recent trip to France as guest of the association of French Champagne producers. I’d bumped into JP Colmant at Cape Town International who was also part of the tour along with Pieter Ferreira and Jeff Grier who must have the mother of all hangovers following the recommendation by Jancis Robinson yesterday to readers of the Financial Times of his Villiera Brut Natural 2007 as “a perfectly acceptable SA alternative to [French] Champagne” for their Christmas stockings. Hope Nick II was listening!
Villiera, Brut Natural Chardonnay 2007 Stellenbosch
Not champagne but made the same way. Clean, dry and with a bit of evolution even. Perfectly acceptable South African alternative to champagne.
£9.99 M&S major stores