“It’s a Cape Town thing” was the consensus of opinion when I asked why XX chromosomes outnumbered XYs by 2:1 at the Excelsior food and wine pairing function at 221 on the Waterfront last night “and some ladies bring other ladies as partners, compounding the problem.” That the Excelsior brothers Peter and Jacques cut dashing figures no doubt also helps.
But what was surprising was the timing – to clash a food and wine pairing with the opening of WineX in Johannesburg. “We no longer attend” said Western Cape and Pretoria distributor Mike Moore “as we don’t get enough publicity. Attendance at Cape Town WineX was poor and the show is too expensive. A bit like competitions, which are also ridiculous. But that said, when we won a Double Gold at Michelangelo, sales trebled. We didn’t enter this year and sales remained the same, confirming a huge residual value.”
After tasting the 2010 Excelsior whites, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay, both well priced at R35 a bottle, it’s no wonder the De Wets are smiling. The Sauvignon has impressive crisp green apple flavours from a cool climate/high altitude vineyard in Robertson overlaying a rich tropical fruit salad while the 6g of residual sugar in the Chardonnay comes from making a wine from grapes desiccated on the vine à la the Solms-Delta recipe and then blending back this sweet wine to make a Chardonnay charming to the American palate.
Among the reds, the 2008 Cabernet at R43 a bottle is a total steal. As Peter said “it’s 12% of all SA red drunk in the USA” and the reason why is a no-brainer. The reserve reds are both named after horses: Gondolier (which won the Durban July in 1985) Merlot 2007 and a 19th century carthorse Evanthius lends his name to the 2007 reserve Cabernet. Fine wines both, but at R140 a bottle, 3½ bottles of the 2008 normal Cabernet are a better bet, although a trifecta is always an option.