when Fons Aaldering launched his eponymous wine brand on an unsuspecting SA in May 2010, shortly before the soccer World Cup, he chose La Colombe as launch pad. Alas, lunch left much to the imagination, featuring as it did, homepathic truffles and foie gras. “If you ever come to the Netherlands” offered Fons “I’ll take you to a decent restaurant.” So on Thursday I was treated to the meal of my life at De Librije in Zwolle, home town of Herman Brood. Here is Fons and our chef, Jonnie Boer.
“How often does the tail wag the brontosaurus?” asks wine impesario Michael Fridjhon in Business Day this morning. The brontosaurus (below) being the Nederburg brand and the tail the annual Nederburg Auction “where turnovers dropped significantly for reasons that aren’t at all difficult to discern. The sale has lost its sex appeal — which means it’s not attracting the stocks and buyers that would make a difference in a tough market.
A week later it became clear that the Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) Auction has usurped much of that polish and gloss — and its turnovers (as well as the average prices paid for a smaller and seemingly more exclusive offering) reflect its current position on the podium.” The only problem with the comparison being the “punters” at each event are quite different.
While the Cape gears up for Jörg Pfützner’s Big Bottle boogaloo at the Cellars Hohenort on Friday night, Mr. Meat aka Alan Pick has stolen a march by hosting a lunchtime auction tomorrow to send the final year of Elsenberg wine making students to France to see what all the fuss is around French vin.
The auction catalogue (below) is stellar and arguably the best ever offered in SA this millennium. So to all those banksters who missed out on Quoin Rock and hipsters not yet retired to Hermanus, hurry to the Butcher’s Shop & Grill tomorrow lunchtime for some Wagu steaks and a chance at vinous immortality and the best wine south of Beaune.
The great, the good and the groovy hipsters (below) of SA wine gathered at Casparus in Dorp Street, Oak City, last night for a tasting of Albariño – the fragrantly spicy white grape of Galicia (or Galeethia as tasting leader Teddy Hall correctly pronounced it). But wires must have got crossed between sommelier and chef as steak was on the menu for the follow up feed. But what steak – moist, decorated with roundels of bone marrow. Umami utopia, but then the signature dish of Mnr. Bonthuys is fillet wearing an oyster for a hat.
With less than two weeks remaining before Jörg Pfützner unleashes his Big Bottle Festival on Friday 24th at the Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia, Cape Town hipsters have taken to using big bottles to train their biceps for pouring. Here is David Cope from Alphabetical training at Clarke’s on Bree Street yesterday.
As SA wine becomes increasingly and perhaps unavoidably politicized, its worth considering pressures on that silent constituency: the winemakers. At a splendid lunch at Societi Bistro yesterday of pork neck and brocolli soup with final year Elsenburg student Adriaan van Ellewee (below) to discuss August’s Wagu & Wine fundraising lunch and auction at Alan Pick’s The Butcher’s Shop & Grill, the state of the national cellar came up for discussion. Adriaan and his colleagues are resucitating the annual Elsenburg Auction, last held in 2005, to raise funds to send 22 students to France for an end-of-year study tour. A worthy cause, if ever there was one, if SA wine is serious about breaking out of the “cellar palate” death spiral to start focusing on wine styles the rest of the world is buying.
Relying on e- rather than voicemail has one disadvantage when traveling overseas: huge backlogs of messages, many deleted by your service provider – in my case MTN – as they exceeded their lifespans, like perishable foodstuffs in Woolies. What fresh rubbish is this? Buy another hard drive MTN and save them all! After the trip to Portugal to taste wine for Anbibal Coutinho’s People’s Guide, the messages were from BMW (the Big Man of Wellington wine), relating how the WOSA dirty ops manager (sorry “communications director”) had attempted to blackmail the appellation into cutting ties with yours truly after Uncorked blew the whistle on their self-serving porky pies claiming bottled wine exports “showed a positive trend” in the first three months of 2012, when they actually continued to fall off the cliff. Like WOSA’s credibility.
At dinner last night at the excellent Tang Dynasty restaurant in Shanghai, there were no Bordeaux bargains on the menu to go with the bullfrog boiled in hot chili oil or deepfried big snake. Chateau Dauzac was R9,000 a bottle and Lafite R38,000, so we settled on Asahi beer at R30 for 625ml (curious volume).
But where do these crazy prices come from? Hein Koegelenberg, whose Leopard’s Leap sells one in every two bottles of SA wine in the Middle Kingdom, says to add a nought to the wholesale price to get retail. The old Alan Pick zero % markup.
Just as well Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger (pet for short) is president of grande marque champagne house Taittinger or his “perfect weekend” interview in this Weekend FT’s outrageously inappropriate (in current economic climes) How to Spend it supplement may have got him into hot water. “In the early evening, I pour myself a whisky or make a Mauresque with a good Pastis, orgeat syrup and some ice. We might have some champagne with dinner, or old-fashioned claret such as Château Poujeaux. I don’t like the new-style Bordeaux – the wines are too ripe and lack a sense of place. I prefer subtle wines that speak of terroir.”Read More…
With food banned inside the bidding room at this year’s Cape Winemakers Guild Auction at Spier, action gravitated to a flat screen monitor with prices next to the mini hamburgers and cheese on Chinese spoons, outside. “Shit” said Nev “I’ve missed the Spier Pinotage and it averaged under R1000 a six pack” confirming the contention of rainmaker Alan Pick that “the boys are getting klapped. Prices are down 35%” by 11:30am, although Alan’s son was an enthusiastic bidder for the Ernie Els red, which is a lot better than Ernie’s game at the moment, as the auctioneer cheekily pointed out. Hopefully a late spurt in prices will save the day, after all, my favourite wine, the Le Riche 2008 Cabernet, is a late lot.Read More…