The Sanhedrin of SA wine expanded by 15 last night as the Commanderie de Bordeaux intronized the latest batch of Bordeaux worshippers at a glittering function at De Grendel. Sir David Graaff and De Grendel winemaker Chas Hopkins had a home team advantage and their Koetshuis CWG was nailed at the Bordeaux-style tasting afterwards by Arthur McWilliam Smith whose laser-like taste buds detected the serious Sémillon component, as did mining financier Gerard Holden who was amused to be addressed in the Afrikaans fashion: Gheritt rather than Jerard. He flew down to Cape Town from London yesterday, especially to join in.
Banker Michael Jordaan was fashionably late, delayed by lookie-loos outside Stellenbosch at the scene of a BMW crash (no casualties, unlike the financial crash) while Hannes Myburgh of Meerlust fame, left unfashionably early. But then he had dinner booked at 95 Keerom Street and Giorgio Nava is not a chef to be trifled with lightly. Or indeed trifled in any way at all, except possibly as dessert.
Spatz Sperling was the oldest new commandeur while Rianko van Rooyen travelled the greatest distance – from Keimoes on the Groot Gariep. He didn’t think much of the Rieussec 2003 served with the Merlot ice cream and indeed, his own straw wine Chenin Blanc 2012 has more balance and is certainly better value for money. Red of the evening IMHO was a Clos de l’Oratoire 2004 St. Émilion but the 2009 Kanonkop Paul Sauer will one day be the best wine. Of that I have not the slightest doubt. Along with the 2001 vintage, this is clearly one of the greatest SA reds ever.
On the subject of superlatives, is André van Rensburg the best white winemaker in SA? His 2010 Vergelegen white blend is a tour de force while the Le Geminus of Tinus van Niekerk is also a contender. Dangerously dashing Schalk-Willem Joubert brought his Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond along, real future classic stuff while Louis Strydom impressed with his Ernie Els red, even if Tinus admitted he had no idea who Ernie Els was. Linda Coltart from Le Quartier Français and Jenny Prinsloo from the Franschhoek Wine Valley were both inducted. As were Ntsiki Biyela and Mutle Mogase who added the diversity WOSA insists is the key to SA wine. And they’re not wrong.
The only dinkum Frenchman inducted was Thierry Leclair but after a few bottles of wine, we were all fully fledged members of the international fraternity of fine wine lovers. Colour, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, age, height, mass, bank balance, qualifications, totally irrelevant for a moment.
The party ended at 22h30 leaving Groot Constantia winemaker Boela Gerber plenty of time to hit the Partyberg and the oesaf party of Jasper Wickens, a future commandeur and party organizer if ever there was one. I don’t know if Boela won any prizes for the shortest denim pant as he was very soberly dressed and sober as an appeal court judge when last I saw him.