Wine show entrepreneurs behind Veritas, Michelangelo and the Old Mutual Toasty Show will be rubbing their hands in glee with news of an innovation that will increase capacity at tastings and their revenues: tampons to refresh judges between glasses of wine. As reported in the Guardian yesterday, the UK’s leading celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, at Ellerman House earlier this month, notes “if you drain the moisture in your mouth you experience richness, creaminess and sweetness more intensely … and there is really nothing much more absorbent than a tampon.”
The finals of the Bollinger bubbly sommelier competition unwound yesterday afternoon at Ellerman Villa in Bantry Bay (rack rate R39K – R65K a night for 2-6 plutocrats, kids welcome unlike Ellerman House where they are verboten). Heston Blumenthal and BA were the last occupants, but the venue was so scrupulously clean, no chance of extracting any DNA and reprogramming a local chef. No chance of ABBA mementos à la Priscilla, Queen of the Desert either (I checked). Instead, the scene was more like one from the new James Bond movie Skyfall. Not so strange as in Live and Let Die, Roger Moore requests a bottle of Bolly and Jeff Lopes (below, standing) is a consummate secret agent.
Four finalists – two from Camps Bay and two from the Saxon in Sandton – were put through some tricky paces and some of the questions (does Dr. Loosen make wine outside Germany?) would have floored me. The sommelier selection of wines (below) speaks volumes about what is hot and what is not in sommelier circles.
The first thing that jumped out and hit me between the nostrils from a glass of Beanotage 2010, Marius Malan’s attempt at the wildly popular coffee/mocha style of Pinotage, was vanilla. Which comes as no surprise, as toasted oak staves rich in vanillin define this popular style.Read More…
The Cape Grace hotel is the most comfortable billet on the Waterfront. Travelista in the Weekend Financial Times calls it “a big five-star establishment to which I direct friends for service that’s prescient, refined and generally delightful.”
Last year’s honeymoon horror murder of guest Anni Dewani in Gugulethu gave it the kind of media profile it didn’t need but the hotel is now storming back into the limelight with a Heston Blumenthal special for next weekend.
Was it the same Iraqi taxi driver who told Heston Blumenthal (or Hester as he’s called by WOSA on Twitter) “Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world and the vineyards are only 45 minutes away” as the one who told the infamous British spy that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could reach London in 45 minutes?Read More…
What a dizzy, busy life Garry Cotterell leads! This “editor and creative director” of Wanted, the Business Day version of the Financial Times How To Spend It supplement, reports today on “the sheer joy of driving when he was invited by BMW to attend a gathering of the finest classic cars in the world at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2010 followed by three days behind the wheel of museum condition, rally-ready BMW convertibles dating back to the 1930s.”
Gazza takes us on “an inspiring drive back in time – from the banks of Lake Como through the mountain passes of northern Italy” via a series of Polaroids taken with his Canon G11 (R5999). Although cosmopolitan food blogger Clare Mack had hers blow up on her last month.
Gazza didn’t know just how far back in time he was taking me, as the last time I was at Como, I was on a freebee to launch a wine test-match between SA and Chile in those heady days when Coleman Andrews was taking the airline for a ride. Chile was represented by Douglas Murray who Decanter reported yesterday, has recently died. As guests of SA Airways, we may not have scored Gazza’s “two days of VIP treatment – champagne, polished chrome and the smell of old leather,” but it was kief nevertheless.
The best story in this edition of Wanted is the feature on Jody Scheckter written by Natalie Theo and illustrated with pictures out of the UK’s Car Magazine from 2008. Is this the Natalie Theo, “fashion writer, stylist and founder of thefashionchronicles.com” who was fashion editor at the Daily Mail for seven years? My February column in WINE magazine covered much of the same ground, so I’m reproducing it below in the hope that I score a fashion gig at Vogue.Read More…
I’ve long suspected that Carl Jung and his concept of meaningful coincidence – synchronicty, the spirit world’s version of terroir – control SA wine at a deep and not fully understood level. How else do you explain the observation that at Cape Town Wine-X last night the floor was crawling with WINE magazine operatives, tasked to write 35-word introductions to the exhibitors for a flashy show guide for Jozi Wine-X when this morning the 35th Nederburg Auction kicks off in Paarl?
Sticking with the spirit world, I bumped into Gad Kaplan, one-time Cape Town wine hack who’s now writing a book on mysticism. Called The Path of Confrontation it deals with existential mysticism and Gad is looking for a publisher. With it out of the way, he plans to write one on wine. Who knows, perhaps he can kill two birds with one stone.
As for the wines at Wine-X, some observations. Duif eie blou (duck egg blue) seems to be this year’s in-colour for Sauvignon Blanc. Thys Louw’s Sir Lambert 2009 is all suurvygies and oyster shells, although hopefully not handled by the staff of Heston Blumethal’s Fat Duck at Bray restaurant who managed to infect 529 diners with norovirus from oysters cultivated in human sewage in Colchester. The label is the same azure blue chosen by Wendy Appelbaum for her R55-a-bottle De Morgenzon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 a Fred Flintstone of a wine. Fred for its accessible price (around 1/3 the cost of the Chenin) plus Flint and Stone for its pronounced minerality.
Off to the new all-singing, all-dancing restaurant Catharina’s at Steenberg yesterday for a press preview lunch whipped up by Garth Almazan who’s off next year for a sabbatical with Heston Blumenthal (“like a cross between Professor Branestawm and Willy Wonka”) at the Fat Duck at Bray. So we caught gourmet Garth in his pre-foam phase, with a chocolate sauce on the crayfish tail and scallop the only evidence this was seriously foodie food.