Not too many Platter pundits at Dick Enthoven’s art factory in downtown Cape Town tonight, venue for a Secret Tasting. For this was a blind tasting taken to the max and blind tastings to Platter are like garlic to a vampire. John Belushi black Ray Bans with the lenses spray-painted black; all very Ray Charles. An A-team black van with black drapes to whisk guests from Pleinpark Parkade to the blacked-out venue. Black raffia streamers.
The objective: four glasses of Spier Chenin Blanc – Chenin Black – wittily matched with niblets. To start, the fresh and fruity one they make for Woolies all the way up to the 21 Gables. Anne of Greengables that wins serious gongs in every competition it is entered. Except the Old Mutual Toasty Show this year. Which reflects badly on a competition that desperately punts itself as being credible when Lotto is closer to the mark. Tata ma chance, tata ma millions as the bowties say.
My favourite was Chenin #3, made from a single vineyard in Durbanville. Home to 40+ year old vines, it was given the 100% new wood treatment by cellar master Frans Smit and was as elegant as a black Armani suit or Spier CEO Andrew Milne (above). I was fortunate indeed to sit near Herman Lensing, Mnr. Kos at Sarie, a wonderful magazine I wrote for on some memorable occasions, before they gave the gig to long-legged Jeanri-Tine van Zyl. His table talk was a feast.
The WOSA table featured award winning CEO Su Birch and the usual bunch of Amazons plus dirty tricks coordinator Andre Morgenthal. Sources say he has recently been appointed restaurant reviewer for the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the Universe competition. A well-deserved appointment, as I can’t think of anyone with as much experience in business lunches and luxury hotel fare. At last some good will come from years of selfless dining out on the SA wine industry tab and at Great Wine Capitals of the World, a dodgy wine tourism quango run for the benefit of industry bureaucrats. Andre’s day job is “communications” guru at WOSA and since many Winelands restaurants are located on wine farms, conflicts of interest are sure to result. Let’s hope he took extra Belushi’s home, so he can taste the restaurants blind!
This evening’s Secret Tasting was held to promote Chenin, a cultivar Frans identifies as the secret weapon in the SA cellar. It also served as advertisement for The Secret Festival to be held at Spier on 27 and 28 October. A celebration of food, wine and the arts. After listening to Charles Banks extoll the same vision for Chenin at Mulderbosch earlier this year over some wood-fired gourmet pizzas, I suggested a Pizza Workshop to Spier marketing maven Annebelle Schreuders.
Challenge SA chefs to produce the ultimate People’s Pizza to match the various styles of Chenin in the local cellar. Andre can be a judge, if he has the time in his busy schedule now compounded by his pressing Pellegrino Proe. First prize, a trip to Naples or better yet, to Greece, where pizza was invented. After this weekend’s upcoming elections, hotel accommodation in Athens should be priced in drachmas by October and with German tourists unwelcome, availability should be no problem.
Hello. Just a correction to the above related article and to clarify that Andre Morgenthal is not a judge for The World’s 50 Best Restaraunt Awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Aqua Panna. He resigned last year and has not “recently been appointed”. Regards, Tamsin Snyman (Academy Head: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the region Africa & Indian Ocean Islands)
Thanks for clearing that up. My source is clearly behind the times! Andre’s resignation explains why SA restaurants did so badly in the competition this year, falling out of the Top 50 completely. His replacement(s) were obviously not cut from the same culinary cloth as our legendary braiimeister who is the toast of Indian luxury restaurants where “please send Andre my regards” is a typical sommelier envoi.
I love Chenin Blanc. I buy it, I drink it and I collect it. This is my myopic domestic hobby, but my personal interest is not reflected in any analysis of wine demand in any market other than in South Africa. It is going to have to take a massive change in international (non-UK) consumption patterns to insert Chenin Blanc into the ‘Top 5′ list of Favourite varieties. The only way to achieve this, in my opinion, is with a two-pronged well organized and well funded Chenin Blanc global marketing campaign. History will show that we lack the organization and the funds to achieve this. Quo vadis?