The 20th edition of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles kicked off in Bratislava this morning and this year’s fashion statement is beards. Here is US blogger Ryan Opaz modelling some porno topiary while my Panel #1 consists of judges from France, Portugal and Belgium and is a hairy affair. Bratislava has so many students, its nickname is Partyslava and with the evening free, we’ll see if it can hold a candle to the Partyberg, the hip name for the Paardeberg in the Swartland.
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.
What a difference a year makes. The maiden 2011 vintage of the Brink Family Pinotage Rosé from Pulpit Rock was rated sighted by the leading SA guide at 1½ stars in 2011 with the dismissive comment “lacks nuance.” Which conforms to anorak perceptions: “Rosé does not make serious wine.”
While the world watched #1 Military Hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte for news of Nelson Mandela, we tasted 94 Rosés over the past two days: one for each year of the former president’s life. In a break with tired old tradition, we assembled a daring Pienk PanelTM to perform the task. The first day’s line-up is shown below.
Andy Hadfield can stop wondering whether Jancis Robinson has downloaded his Real Time Wine app. The answer arrived this morning when the single SA red in her annual Chinese laundry list of what red to drink at Christmas in the pink pages of the Weekend Financial Times was unveiled:
The Paardeberg, quality hub for the Swartland, the most fashionable appellation in the SA winelands, is in lockdown this morning. All points of ingress are now fenced and controlled by a private security company, due to “the threat of irresponsible strike action in our area” according to one of my neighbours. This is a Swartland Revolution by the workers, rather than the one the bosses and running dog capitalists held in Riebeek-Kasteel earlier in the month.
My take on wines with unusual labels, in the Sunday Times Food Weekly yesterday.
James Bond, the film franchise, turns fifty this year. In 2013, the fictional secret agent himself turns sixty. Which is all good marketing copy for another James. Former London currency trader James McKenzie has exchanged bucks for barrels and rates for racking and now makes a Mediterranean red blend called Scaramanga, in Wellington. Named after the baddie in the Man with the Golden Gun, the brand honours the farmer who grew the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. He has a supernumerary nipple, just like Francisco Scaramanga in Ian Fleming’s book. Impressively obscure.Read More…
Plagiarism is the major source of inspiration for Cape Town gourmet stylists with dim sum pop-up bars suddenly fashionable and matching pizza with wine become tasty trendy. The next wave is hot dogs and bubbly pioneered by a restaurant specializing in the unlikely combo in London called Bubbledogs.
When you bear more than a passing resemblance to the heir to the British throne, as Tulbagh bubbly royalty Luke Krone (below) does, hosting an annual Summer Elegance Festival on the family farm is a no-brainer. This year, prompted by Chinese dissident artist Ai WeiWei on the cover of The New Statesman magazine perhaps, Luke has contracted the dim sum duo of Mynhardt Joubert and Eugene Nortje to offer dim sum with a twist at this year’s Festival on Twee Jonge Gezellen on December 8; eight being the most auspicious number on the Chinese calendar. The twist will be naked dim sum with recipes tweaked to account for summer conditions plus the abundance of bare flesh sipping fizz on the day.
Is I Love My Laundry on Bree Street in Cape Town the new way to sell wine? Open seven days a week from seven to seven and later on Wednesdays when a de facto cougar club takes over, spilling out on to the pavement. A laundry cum dim sum bar cum muesli outlet (mixed in a cocktail shaker) it also showcases some of the most obscure wines. Like the creamy Saffrone Cinsaut 2012 blanc de noir from Mount Abora Vineyards in the Swartland, being modeled below by Xanthus, the laundry manager. The wine is full of decadent, almost supparating strawberry flavours – remarkable at a roadblock friendly 11% alcohol.