Fish and chips form the culinary heart-beat of any place showing a culture of fishing, sea-faring and cooking. This makes Cape Town, one would think, an ideal bit of seaside spread for procuring a decent plate of fish and chips. What’s the use of having foodies the world over breathlessly scribbling reams of gushing copy about the City’s food scene and us having two restaurants in the world top 50 if such a quintessential dish is not to be had in amounts of abundant joy?
I have taken the liberty of referring to RTM Hutchinson instead of Tim when talking about the head of local drinks conglomerate DGB. “Route to Market” is the lifeblood of this industry, although its importance gets little air-time as distribution and marketing do not have the same sexiness as granite soils, wet northerly breezes, 83yr old vines and a winemaker quoting Camus.
Those scouring the comments and missives on the South African wine industry should be bored of hearing about the following, and plead for more effort in thinking-up fresher, more relevant topics than:
- Bulk Wine
Bulk wine is not bad. It is not going to cause the roof to fall on anybody’s head. Just because South Africa exports a significant amount of wine in bulk does not mean that producers thereof are stupid and impeding the value and image of the local wine industry. Bulk producers are keeping a large segment of the industry afloat, provide employment and sustain rural communities. Sure, we’d all like an industry where there is a world-wide shortage of US$ 200 bottles of South African Cabernet Sauvignon or Chenin Blanc, but this is not the case. Like any producer, those bulk suppliers who put in the marketing effort and build the contacts are doing very well and we would be far smaller industry without them.
It was a real bitch of day, all windy and grey and with the morning light as dull and listless as a monk’s hand-shake in Lent. This is when the Hemel-en-Aarde shows itself as the rugged, agriculturally poor and harsh farming land it is, features far removed from the post-card pretty vinelands and vinous splendour too often associated as being requisite for the making of fine wine.
I have spent so much time having fun at Vondeling in the Voor-Paardeberg that the absolute quality of its wines passed me by. Raucous bouts of judging potjiekos competitions, ball-clacking boules tournaments and even one memorable game of cricket have not been conducive to actually concentrating on the Vondeling offerings, besides seeing how quickly they went down the hatch. Last week, however, I was corralled into a tasting-room to sample 11 vintages of their Babiana white blend without any reason or alternative activity to set the attention span a wandering.
Most of the recent rantings about South Africa’s wine-pricing have flown higher than my comprehension level, but these opinions, too, have missed a basic and elementary point. Namely, the only correct price for a bottle of wine is that price which a consumer is willing to pay for it.
Pinot Noir deserves the reverence it commands, for at its best it is an indescribably beautiful wine. More has been worded about this variety’s elegance, charm, grace and seductive character than there has been about the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy and the Spanish Inquisition – combined.
The National Department of Sport and Recreation is seeking an explanation from the South African wine industry after industry representatives comprehensively lost a rugby scrumming contest against a team of national Portuguese wine makers in the Douro Valley. According to Ballus Haarhof, spokesperson for Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, losing to Portugal in rugby scrumming is not only a national disgrace, but the Department is also concerned that the South Africans tried to keep their loss a secret from the sporting world.
Nestled in the heart of the Douro Valley, the village of Pinhão was being drenched by sheets of icy rain riding into northern Portugal on a brutal cold wind from west Spain. It was all grey and misty and chill, but not even the sight of a ugly horde of red-shirted EFF water-bottle throwers or the sound of a whining Donald Trump speech would have rendered the Douro anything but magnificently beautiful. It truly is God’s wine country, the vines clinging to the 40 degree slopes, all granite and schist reaching to the heavens and stopping at about 1000m above the river.
Before fleeing certain death at the hands of the rampant Catholic hordes, my forefather knelt before the grave of his old man in the cemetery in La Motte D’Aigues. There Pierre Joubert promised that «Notre sang Joubert continuera à travers les vigne de l’Afrique » (Our Joubert blood shall continue through the vines of Africa.)