The place is packed and jumping and it’s only five-thirty on a weekday. Glasses chink and voices rumble and shoulders get rubbed on the way to a wine stand. Yep, it’s the Veritas Competition tasting where Joe Public has the chance to glug the Double Gold and Gold Medal winners.
It’s a sell-out. All the familiar wine-loving faces are there, as well as a dollop of keen punters from the streets.
But hey, would someone tell the latter to go easy on the perfume and hairspray before attending a wine tasting? There were a couple of elderly ladies who smelt like Estonian hookers after they’d raided a Max Factor van. Try appreciating delicate Sauvignon Blanc at the Anura stand when some ugly old duck waltzes passed leaving a scent of musky perfume, chemical hairspray and sterile denture cement. Kick them the hell out. Burn their Maltese poodles.
But the wines rocked, really rocked. I couldn’t get around to everything, of course, but did well enough to identify a couple of pearls of which orders have been placed.
How about Guardian Peak Lapa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008? This wine gave me such a woody the smelly old ladies couldn’t get their ZimmerFrames close to the stand. Phil van Staden is the winemaker and I hauled him over. “Great wine, great and awesome,” I told him. He says it is concentrated – Napa style (Lapa, get it?) – but such to leave oodles of pencil shavings, spice and intense black fruit.
This wine proves cab is king in SA. We will never, ever make a Shiraz as striking as a corker of a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Helderberg. Finish. Bam.
Being an occupant of the Bosman’s Crossing complex in Stellenbosch, I was proud to see neighbour High Road pouring a Double Gold winner. High Road Reserve 2007. Cab, Merlot and a whack of super spicy Cab Franc. What a wine! In your face as a Barry Hilton joke. Muscular and inky black as a Kenyan yoga instructor. But also velvety, sensual with crushed allspice, maraschino cherry and the slightest overtone of pickled sea urchin roe. Get this, a cult wine in the making, absolute cult.
Proud to have the High Road in my hood!
Bumped into Veritas Chairman Duimpie Bayly at the show who was attempting to flee from all those perfumed geriatrics trying to corner him due to his rugged good looks. Told him the Pinotage Association was full of dung for eschewing mocha pinotage, he accused me of being anti-Pinotage, but I told him I only drink good Pinotage, ek s?+¦???+¦?+¦-+??.
I found this at Diemersdal. Reserve. 2009. Elegantly Burgundian with cruncher fruit and exiguous wood notes. Backbone longer than a giraffe’s neck ache. Perfume on the nose, and a nice wash a life. Slight hint of stewed Borneo orchid leaf brought a haunting, exotic touch.
And to the whites, Diemersdal Sauvignon.com 2010. Double Gold and a blaster. Upfront grass and granny smith and forearm of grass. Long length. Refreshing, but not light nor quirky.
Loved the De Wetshof Finesse Chardonnay 1993 which still has more life than a Helen Zille boob job. Clear colour. Huge mineral. Fine fruit, you can taste the limestone of Robertson. Good nick, not a hint of oxidation.
Went to chat to Hermann Kirschbaum and knocked back Buitenverwachting’s Hussey’s Vlei Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Double Gold. Wine is like Hermann: stylish, easily elegant and deceptively charming. Great fruit from the tropics with a breezy mouth-feel and honey drop moreishness. Knocked me sideways. Bam!
David Nieuwoudt Ghost Corner 2010, fresh and minerally and unexpected, like wet sea pepples washed up in the desert. Edgebaston Chardonnay 2009, subtly wooded, like a Chablis, except more clay soil apparent on the mid-palate than Chabilis’s limestone bombs.
On and on it went, busting through the perfume to get to the wine. Great show. Nice glasses. Couple of good-looking pourers who were up for it, working hard and informing, teaching, sharing.
Pity judges couldn’t find Pinot Noir for Gold. Or Cabernet Franc. Get with the programme. Make it work. Handle it, next time. We hope.