Is there a SA winery owner who rakes up more frequent flyer miles than Paul Cluver? Next week, Pimpernel Paul is off to the Intervitis Interfructa conference of the OIV in Stuttgart. The topic of his talk will be marketing wheezes that work. And the God of Conference Presentations must have been smiling when he suggested Burrata in the Old Biscuit Mill for dinner last night as owner Neil Grant, for seven years one of two straight sommeliers in San Francisco, brought his latest discovery to our table – a squat bottle of Donkiesbaai Hooiwijn 2012. Straw Chenin with the discrete qualifier Jean Engelbrecht South Africa. Here he is with another Pimpernel, artist Luan Nel, whose show Twitter transferred upstairs at the Everard Read Gallery yesterday.
This was a Pinot week in the Cape with the launch of Paul Cluver’s Seven Flags a date I was sad to miss. But Paul has made the impossible, possible and we’re off to dinner on Tuesday. Bonus, great wine and great company. Meanwhile, Andy Rompel, recently of this parish, has been sizing up the heartbreak grape in South America. Here is his Rompel Report.
Cracking an invite as one of 12 guests to a Pinot Noir Workshop at mKOW (the Mountain Kingdom of Wine aka Paul Cluver Estate in elegant Elgin) has something deliciously Biblical about it. Especially when this Last Supper was actually a locavore lunch catered by boho bad boy Bruce Robertson who sourced his ingredients from Scarborough (mussels with mushy peas) and Spar (a whole flock of baby chickens, shown below). Even if he did call it “locivore”, perhaps inspired by that Talking Head David Byrne who sang
Like a pizza in the rain
(Loco de amor)
No one want to take you home
But I love you just the same / (Crazy for love)
Poor old Riesling. First there’s identity theft by Crouchen Blanc. Then the German connection and all those unpronounceable names and Gothic script labels no one can read. A fragrant white has always been a hard sell as its seen as wimp wine by fashionistas in thrall to Swartland oxidative brews that look and taste like urine samples. Then you organize Riesling Rocks at Hartenberg Estate and the heavens open and keep away the wine nerds in droves. Even though they’re sometimes called anoraks, which would have come in useful this afternoon.
Tousled haired terroiriste Nina Caplan, drinks columnist for left-leaning New Statesman magazine, puts the boot into Pinotage this week. “When I was there [in SA] five years ago, the Chenin Blanc was terrific; there were great reds but a lot more awful ones and the South Africans’ incomprehensible pride in Pinotage – a red grape that no one else has adopted, for excellent reasons – wasn’t helping.” Is this the kind of thing mayor of London and bon vivant Boris Johnson had in mind when he referred to “lefty tossers” this week?
Paul Cluver, CEO of the eponymous wine producer, gave a presentation on Pinot Noir, the heartbreak grape, at Prowein this week. As part of the presentation, he asked three wine writers for their opinion and as is so often the case, the answers reveal as much about the wine writers as they answer the question.
With everyone now thoroughly Swartlanded out, it’s refreshing to note that thick and soupy is not the only style of Shiraz in SA. Alsatian winemaker Julien Schaal and elegantly Elgin’s Paul Cluver showed their new 2010 cool climate Syrah at Bizerca Bistro last night, a Fleur du Cap Top Ten restaurant for Cape Town. 13.4% alcohol, made from a 15 year old vineyard that used to deliver fruit to the Villiersdorp Co-op, the wine bravely charts a new direction for the sexy grape. And at a planned R120 a bottle, it is sure to sell out in record time.Read More…
Overberg and Somerset West wine producers have to pick up the pieces from a PR fiasco today after the last day of the three day Wines2Whales mountain bike race from Lourensford to Onrus was cancelled due to inclement weather on Sunday. As one participant from the UK put it “conditions on Sunday are what we have to deal with every day. It cost us a fortune to fly out here and then to have the race cut short leaves us feeling bitterly disappointed.”
As does the R1300 taxi fare from the Arabella on Bot River lagoon to La Colombe for a commiseration lunch. At least he didn’t fall for the taxi driver’s offer of waiting for three hours and carrying on to the airport for the special price of R2,500.00. R400 for Excite was a far better deal and confirms that SA wine tourism still has a lot to learn. But what a lunch – fabulous foie gras and Alaskan crab to die for, washed down by a bottle of Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2010 for R90 in a restaurant that will surely top the Eat Out list if there is any justice left in SA.
SA producers will be disappointed by the coverage leading UK wine pundit Jancis Robinson gave to Cape Wine Europe 2011 in the Weekend Financial Times. Chris and Andrea Mullineux and GT Ferreira will be doubly disappointed. For instead of a compendium of sharp tasting notes and reflections on SA wines, we get a mishmash of reflections on August’s controversial Humran Rights Watch Report that Jancis thought appeared last month. For the tasting notes, you need to subscribe to Jancis’s pricey Purple Pages, making the FT a pimp for her PPs. After paying R40 for the pink one, it’s a bit of a cheek.
With the Rugby World Cup in full swing, batten down the hatches for a rush of stories of Springboks making wine. But the real interest comes when doctors prescribe Pinotage instead of pills and swap the stethoscope for the spittoon. Dr. Alvi van der Merwe from Alvi’s Drift has both claims to fame: Oupa Alvi was a Springbok flank from the 1930s and his two grandsons were no slouches on the field either. Invited to Rawsonville for lunch, Alvi’s wines confirmed that while media waves battle to penetrate the Du Toitskloof Mountains, wine certainly doesn’t stop at the Huguenot Tunnel and the R26 toll is well worth paying to source some value-for-money gems.Read More…