I may not have written for winenews this year, having a) been fired as a columnist for being anti-WOSA or b) to give young, thrusting, up-and-coming writers like Graham Howe some space (take your pick), but I still get forwarded the odd email message.
Plus some misguided trolls and haters think I post comments on the site. Like the first one after Richard Rowe’s misgivings on Platter that sparked the most ridiculous Tim James drive-by hit yet. But I would sure love to meet George Burns, who summed up the debate last night with a good dose of common sense.
A grand dinner last night at the Grand Café and Beach in Granger Bay with Allan Mullins CWM and international man of mystery Steve Straker which must have cost host Mike Von a couple of grand. Retro avo Ritz’s to start, which quickly got us into a La Perla frame of mind and then fillet steak and salad (twiggy Steve had the chips we all wanted) as burgers were off the menu last night. Allan chose the white – a delicately wooded 2012 Sauvignon Blanc called The Young Airhawk, which was all intense and precise passion fruit. Too piercing for kreef but perfect with oily avo. I handled the reds: a Rhône blend called Motorcycle Marvel and a Bordeaux blend called Brewmaster which was powered by that savoury tomato paste style of Cabernet that Stellenbosch and Paarl do to perfection.
The “sold out” signs are about to go up at Cape to Canton, the festival to celebrate Chinese New Year at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa in Newlands from 4-8pm on Sunday. From exhibition matches by the SA Table Tennis Champion to Chinese elevator music, Kung Fu fights to lion dances, all bases are covered. Cape Town’s top Chinese chefs are pulling out all the stops: Haiku, South China Dim Sum Bar, Tao Yuan, Katima. You name it, they’ll be there.
My thoughts on The Red Table @ Nederburg in Food Weekly on Sunday. Nederburg are just one of 8 leading SA wine brands to feature at Cape to Canton at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa on Sunday.
While Franschhoek may call itself “food and wine capital of SA”, the true heart of hedonism is racing in Paarl. Nederburg is home to Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, barrel-chested Razvan Macici, while when I lunched at the new Red Table restaurant in the Nederburg manor house in January, filming of the second season of MasterChefSA was in full swing. Annie, the Macici family pooch, has put on serious weight from leftovers. Which answers the question: who eats those TV creations? – not the crew, as SheSha Film & TV Caterers were feeding the gaffers and best boys.
When you think about it, Nederburg is incredibly well positioned to play the Chinese market given that red is the house colour and the Andrea Foulkes-powered new restaurant in the manor house is auspiciously named The Red Table. Mega feng shui.
The current issue of the Spectator reviews China’s Silent Army: The Pioneers, Traders, Fixers and Workers Who are Remaking the World in Beijing’s Image by Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo and makes a couple of points. For SA wine marketers, the revelation that Africa is home to 750,000 Chinese traders “who have set up retail businesses all over Africa selling the flood of consumer goods that pours out of China’s factories” should be of interest. Now that Nederburg’s owner Distell has recently bought a controlling interest in a Chinese liquor distribution company, perhaps this distributed pipeline can be stocked with wine and spirits from the Nederburg cellar in Paarl. CJ Wines & Spirits is based in Zhongshan in the Pearl Valley Delta of Guandong province in southeast China and has operations in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.
David Bowie, who unexpectedly came back from the dead earlier this month with a mournful dirge “where are we now?” famously sang about another Messiah, Ziggy Stardust, being “the naz with god given ass.” What Ziggy had behind, Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici has up front, looking more like a Kadar barrel (made from Hungarian oak grown in Romania) every vintage. No wonder MasterChefSA has snapped him up as wine guru in the sequel, currently being filmed at Nederburg. For ironically, wine was an ingredient sorely lacking in the first series. An oversight the Nederburg nabobs have now fixed.
“Boy could Ziggy play guitar” and boy can that Razvan make wine. Yesterday, the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year let slip that he’s started a “small project” to produce a Nederburg Méthode Cap Classique.
Did Diners invite the wrong kind of media to the larger-than-usual Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Awards bash on Saturday night or is Franschhoek beyond the event horizon for Cape Town’s notoriously stay-at-home blogosphere? Nederburg red winemaker Wilhelm Pienaar tweets this morning “I find it fascinating that the airwaves are so quiet about Razvan’s triumph at
#DCWinemaker2012 with his @Nederburg Eminence. Sour grapes?”
There were laughs aplenty at the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award last night at the Conservatory in Franschhoek. Diners CEO Ebrahim Mathhews told 150 guests he was a victim of mistaken multiple identity: farmers thought he was a farm worker while security at the Conservatory thought he was the driver for his colleagues. What is it about teetotal bosses? While Jacob Zuma claims to be the only ANC member who does not drink, Muslim Ebrahim is in the same boat.
Razvan Macici (below) was a popular choice for Diners Club Winemaker of the Year at the Conservatory in Franschhoek this evening. Diners has put the glamour back into the 32nd running of the competition, which now runs to R50K in cash and two business class return tickets to Buenos Aires. Razvan is already going to Argentina later this month with Johan Venter, director of primary production at Distell plus a viticulturalist, so look out for more gaucho glamour in the Nederburg brand. Any one for Torrontes?
The news that Altydgedacht, the pearl of Pampoenkraal, is to go on auction confirms the scale of the seismicity in the Winelands. The most sensible buyer from a wine point of view would be Distell as Altydgedacht is the source of Chenin grapes for Razvan Macici’s benchmark Nederburg Edelkeur. Backsberg may also be a buyer as they source Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the farm. But wine pales in comparison to the land value of the farm, located on the fringes of Cape Town suburbia. Who knows, perhaps Bill Foley will overcome his antipathy to SA wine and snap up a bargain? My thoughts on the farm.