While Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici remains the one to beat when judging starts on Tuesday for the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year where the category is dessert wines, Pieter Badenhorst must be a strong contender with his Fleur du Cap 2010 NLH, a heavenly blend of Chenin Blanc, Semillon and Muscat. A three jewels of a wine. My thoughts on it in the Sunday Times Food Weekly today:
The official post mortem on Cape Wine 2012 raises more questions than it answers. The press release kicks off: “The South African wine industry, a major contributor to the country’s agri-exports, has just hosted its ‘best ever’ international trade exhibition, according to the chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), Johann Krige.
WOSA is a not-for-profit organisation mandated by government to promote South African wine exports that last year generated R350,4m in sales.” Come again? WOSA’s budget is R35 million a year or 10% of SA wine export sales? If the numbers are correct, then WOSA should be closed down immediately as it simply does not deliver this kind of value.
“We’re a family restaurant and we encourage sharing” burbled the waitron at dinner at Nobu last night. But at R650 for an omakase, the family she had in mind must be the Ruperts. Or the Chenin Blanc Association which on Monday hosted a five course extravagance to showcase the charms of Chenin. A cultivar I’d always thought of as making the People’s Wine as it’s the most ubiquitous grape in the national vineyard. Which is why we’re pairing it with pizza, the People’s Plate, at za, our pop-up Chenin Pizzera in partnership with Mastrantonio at Food|Wine|Design on the roof of the Hyde Park Shopping centre at the end of November.
French terroiristes are up in arms over an EU proposal to let the term Château apply to wines made from bought in grapes. But what is truly amazing in the Telegraph story is that around 80% of French wine is geographically defined – i.e. wine made from grapes grown on a specific site, so called terroir wine. Truly hard to believe given the large co-ops in the big volume Languedoc and the south of France.
In SA its surely the exact opposite, if not worse, with many of the big name estates making wine from bought in grapes. In addition to big brands like Two Oceans, Tall Horse, Obiqwa and so on, many proud estate labels contain the proviso Wine of Origin, Western Cape. As we found terroir tasting for our upcoming Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013. Many icons were absent from our blind tastings because they were not WO wines, unlike the wonderful Tierhoek Chenin Blanc 2009 below I enjoyed at Scusi in Parkview last Thursday night.
Whisky wonks had their neoprene anoraks blown off earlier this year when a Wellington whisky, the Three Ships Premium Select 5YO, was voted best blended whisky in the world by Whisky magazine. Terroirists were not surprised for the appellation at the foot of the Du Toitskloof Mountains has site specificity to burn. From Bovlei Valley Cabernets which taste almost Chilean with their blueberry favour profile to tangy Chenin Blancs from Groenberg to dense and intense Malbecs, Wellington has a taste defined by its towering mountains that hold up the southern end of the great plateau that comprises the centre of South Africa.
Was the plastic bottle thrown onto the Olympic 100m sprint final track on Sunday a recyclable PET bottle from Stellenrust? The Fairtrade Stellenrust Chenin Blanc was indeed packaged in a green bottle quite like the green bottle at the bottom of the Getty Copyright image below. And given strict security at the games, only IOC sanctioned beverages are allowed into Olympic venues.
When Chris Alheit (below) heard we’d be terroir tasting in his Hemelrand valley on Sunday, he rose like Lazarus from his sickbed to bring us a bottle of Cartology 2011, an oxidative style chenin made from grapes grown on bush vines in multiple appellations including the Swartland, Stellenbosch and Skurfberg. And that’s just the S’s, Dr. Seuss!
One of the drawbacks of being scenically photogenic is that your appellation gets targeted as illustration for the bad as well as the good. Which happened to Franschhoek in last week’s trash tasting of SA Chenin Blanc by Eric Asimov, nephew of Isaac Asimov, author of Azazel, the Two Centimetre Demon. But the quid pro quo is that photogenic winemakers also draw attention to their wines, which is the case with Boekenhoutskloof winemaker Jean Smit below, pouring the Syrah 2006 on Saturday at the Bastille Day Festival.