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.)
The current climate in the South African wine industry reminds me of one particular jewel of a saying uttered by the famous American base-ball coach who had a habit of fluffing his intended opinions.
-When asked if he still frequented a certain Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, Yogi answered: “Are you crazy? Ever since that joint got so popular nobody goes there anymore.”
Spontaneous wine moments always turn-out the most memorable. Like an unexpected glimpse of a vividly hued wild flower growing next to a crumbling farm wall, the surprisingly pungent scent of baked croissants as you pass a non-descript down-town bakery or the sudden scream of a fish-eagle slicing the early-morning air of central Stellenbosch, an unplanned sip turns an amicable wine experience into one great and memorable.
The University of Cape Town (UCT), one of the foremost educational institutions in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, has banned wines from the Swartland region from being served on its campus. According to sources close to the Ikey Vivinum Wine Club, the decision was taken by management after a student organisation claimed the translation of Swartland – “Blackland” – is derogatory and insults the ethos of racial sensitivity of which UCT is so proud.
When finding it difficult to explain my preferences, I always refer to the great works of classical culture. Take my love of pink, rosé sparkling wines. In their epic song “Hotel California”, The Eagles did not sing “Mirrors on the ceiling/the lees-matured Champagne on ice”. Nor …”the vintage Blanc de Blancs on ice”. No, it was “pink” Champagne they roped in to colour one of the most magnificent seven minutes of rock music in history.