Master and Commander: the far side of the world is the Hollywood blockbuster staring Russell Crowe that came second to Lord of the Rings: the return of the king in the 76th Academy Awards. Set in the Napoleonic wars, it recounts the fictional tale of how an outclassed, outgunned ship of the line Surprise, is ordered to “sink, burn, or take as a prize” French privateer Acheron, to protect the British whaling fleet. Wine has now replaced whale meat in the UK larder and a French remake premiered last night at La Motte in Franschhoek.
Called Maître et Commandeur de Bordeaux, it was an audacious foray into the heart of SA wine in the struggle for the British consumer through the establishment of a local chapter – 79th in the world and second in Africa after Senegal – of the Commanderie de Bordeaux. With 5000 members in 26 countries, the CdB are the shock troops of French wine marketing. A French Foreign Legion with better haircuts.
The set was lavish – the inside of the Pierneef à La Motte restaurant, designed by a Franschhoek lady architect, resembles an upturned ship and the chandeliers of plates, bowls and tea pots resemble those in the eerie images of the ballroom of the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The costumes were opulent – medieval by way of Harry Potter, with the Oscar for best gown going to Vincent Garde from Château Haut-Goujon who was the spitting image of Severus Snape played by Alan Rickman, professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The guns were big: Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2000, 2me Cru Pauillac was star of the evening but alas the lady responsible, Madame May de Lencquesaing, was indisposed in Switzerland. Oscar for best supporting wine went to Clos de l’Oratoire 2004, Grand Cru Classe St. Emilion with the only flop the sticky, Château Rieussec 2003, 1er Cru Classe Sauternes, which ran out of acid early in the battle.
A glittering cast of local extras enlivened proceedings with the best joke of the battle going to Jean Engelbrecht. Intronised as a Commandeur de Bordeaux with a wave of a medieval mace created by set designer Ray Kilian, wielded by French superstar Emmanuel Cruse of Château d’Issan, with rank of office a weighty badge worn as a neck choker, Jean joked that if he was stopped at a roadblock on the way back to his Helderberg redoubt, he’d claim municipal immunity from breathalyzation as Mayor of Stellenbosch. Alas, you’d need a dense mist to descend (as it does in Master and Commander) for blonde bombshell Jean to pass as a winelands politician in the current political dispensation!
No photographs of the Commanders and Commanderesses in fancy dress??
Forget your camera Neil?
Flat batteries. Photo orgy to follow. Keep tuned!
Well macamdaia nuts, how about that.