The report in today’s Business Day “art and fine wine critics as curators” reports on a Critic’s Choice Exhibition at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town this month curated by 13 “art critics” which includes works by Stuart Bird, Olaf Bisschoff, Randolph Hartzenberg, Roxy Kawitzky, Marlise Keith, Chad Rossouw, Dathini Mzayiya, Jonah Sack, Henk Serfontein, Simon Stone, Robert Slingsby, Nicolene Swanepoel, and Heather Roth-Claire van Blerck.
What a week for Distell, the elephant in the national tasting room. On Monday CEO Jan Scannell drops R2.2 billion on Scotch. On Tuesday, Business Day calls them a “third world drinks company” and today they refocus the annual Nederburg Auction, biggest event on the wine calendar for four decades. Volumes of wines on offer crash 60% from 28,000 litres to 12,000 with the number of offerings from host Nederburg, SA’s largest premium lifestyle brand, nearly halve from 27 to 15. Confirming a marketing refocus which now concentrates on MasterChefSA and saturation coverage in airports. The event will still be held over two days (6 and 7 September) so proceedings should be less frenetic.
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.
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.
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.
Perhaps the best autopsy for the recent Cape Wine 2012 jamboree was penned by Dr. Liz Thach MW on winebusiness.com. Liz makes the point that the SA should “lead with Chenin Blanc. New Zealand took the world by storm with its unique style of Sauvignon Blanc. South Africa should consider leading with its Chenin Blancs, which are some of the most beautiful I have ever tasted. Furthermore, except for the Loire Valley, no other region is focusing on Chenin Blanc to the extent of South Africa.
South Africa has a wide variety of Chenin Blanc styles that should appeal to multiple consumer segments. My favorites are the bone-dry Chenins with a peach nose, mineral palate, and clean high acid finish — wonderful food wines. At the same time, I also tasted some exquisite semi-sweet Chenins with aromatic peach and honey notes that make a great sipping wine. Then there are the fuller-bodied and more serious oaked Chenins with complex flavours that have been developed through oak fermentation, battonage, and malolactic fermentation. These wines give Chardonnay a run for its money.”
ZA, a pop-up Chenin Pizzeria at Food|Wine|Design next month, anticipates Liz, as I reported in the Sunday Times Food Weekly on Sunday. Teaming up with Gianni Mariano of Mastrantonio fame, one of the first people we invited was Charles Banks who loves za so much, he lured Paul Gouveia (below) away from the Temptations of Tulbagh to Mulderbosch, were he now does the business.