Dinner at Camphors Restaurant last night on Vergelegen after the intronization of a case full (12) of new Commandeurs de Bordeaux. Here are two – old boy Anthony Hamilton Russell who is beaming as turnover is up 45% – and GT Ferreira who is smiling because a) he has just been intronized by Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg with a wooden traditional weapon; b) he has a glass of Domaine de Chevalier 2008 in his hand, or both.
The Taj Classic Wine Trophy competition played out last night over rare lamb racks that went down in the record books as the best awards dinner main, ever. Anel and Samarie (below) clearly agreed. The starter of Franschhoek salmon trout was not too shabby either and the wines matched both courses exceptionally well as of the 14 wines awarded, no fewer than 13 were identified with a geographic appellation.
The Cape no longer does Big Beasts. Early Huguenot settlers in Franschhoek would borrow canon from the Castle to pound migrating elephants (were there any tree-huggers in those days?) while the tygers are now few and far between and mostly seen as screen savers on the computers of André van Rensburg at Vergelegen and a couple in the former dagga plantations of Plaisir de Merle. Even political Big Beasts have moved to Gauteng to keep an eye on their business empires. So no wonder SA “critter wines” – bottles with beasts on the labels with quality inversely proportional to ferocity – fail to get traction in the USA.
Unexpected lunch yesterday with Vergelgen winemaker and long-time enfant terrible of SA wine, André van Rensburg (below, right), and other wine identities at a Dias-beating Porrra restaurant in Somerset West, Casa Valdez. Grilled sardines followed by impressively fiery peri-peri spatchcock for me while the Vans first split a Valdez salad before sharing a 500g espetada on a lethal looking metal skewer. Although it was a chair that André brandished above his head to make a point in a discussion about the holiday romance prospects of Vermaaklikheid.
The news that Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll (below) has laid down her jack hammer, ricocheted around the Winelands this morning like a cork from a shaken-up Methuselah of Boschendal bubbly. For Don Tooth, CEO of Anglo’s renewable resource play Vergelegen, reported directly to Cynthia.
After judging 32 2011 Pinotages at Nederburg yesterday, Anthony Hamilton Russell summed up the vintage. “2011 is all about fruit. The only crimes are winemaking ones.” And judging by my scores, he is not wrong. “If you think 2011 was a fruit vintage, then you’ll love 2012” added Gideon Theron, head winemaker at Lutzville Cape Diamond Vineyards. And sure enough, the single 2012 entry elicited a score of 17/20 from Miguel Chan and moi. “If that’s from Robertson, I’ll eat your hat” offered Hammo. And although this was a blind tasting, I’ll be keeping an eye out for 2012 Pinotages with terrific titfer terroir. Addicts of Cockney rhyming slang will know what I’m talking about.
To launch the new red blend from Vergelegen called DNA in Blighty last week, Vergelegen MD Don Tooth recalled the reaction of winemaker André van Rensburg to the great grape of Burgundy: “I will sleep with men before I make Pinot Noir.” This addition to the André annals is supplied by the Drinks Business and is a curious way to market wine. But probably OK in the UK, as long as you keep Miss Whiplash out of the joke. Now we know why Pinot Noir is called the heartbreak grape.
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.
While our own much loved Sunday Times becomes less and less interested in wine (was it last week or the week before that there was nothing at all about vino?) the British weekly The Spectator is moving in the opposite direction. Bruce Anderson pops up with a full page column while Simon Hoggart runs the 2/3-page Spectator Mini-Bar. Which last week reported that Cape Point Vineyards winemaker Duncan Savage was “widely regarded as the leading white wine maker in South Africa” before lifting off in flights of hairy hyperbole about Duncan’s CPV Sauvignon Blanc 2010.Read More…
Octogenarian Spatz Sperling of Delheim calls the current state of SA wine the worst he’s seen in 60 years of farming in the Cape. Producers are being squeezed until their pips squeak as exports tank and whisky whacks bragging brands in bars and nightclubs. One man’s meat etc. means this is music to the ears of canny consumers as quality has never been better. Last month I vouchsafed my summer drinking options for both hedonist and hoarder to the readers of the Financial Mail.Read More…