It was not cheating to take Chris Patten, chancellor of Oxford University, to Rustenberg last month when one of the wines we tasted, the Rousanne 2010, popped up later in the month at the 58th annual Varsity Blind Wine Tasting competition between Oxford and Cambridge Universities held in Pall Mall. Not cheating, as we didn’t know which wines would be selected, Chris was not a taster and besides, Cambridge won, but not today’s boat race! But a coup nevertheless for Chris to visit the only SA estate to feature in the competition.
The Rousanne was the most expensive of six whites tasted and judge Jancis Robinson commented it “tasted so much richer than most Roussannes that I wondered whether the original cuttings had been labelled correctly.” Well they were, because Rustenberg seigneur Simon Barlow imported them directly from France.
Chris enjoyed the tasting immensely although he did recount an anecdote against himself. At a rather grand lunch “a glass was poured for me to check and it was poured for four others before Roy Jenkins exploded ‘it’s corked!’ which made me cringe with embarrassment as had the others not commented out of politeness?” A question for Chris’ friend and FT Agony Uncle Sir David Tang. Does one call a wine “corked” after the host has given it a public thumbs-up?