The Bride had just sliced the head off her second masked Yakuza gangster when it hit me: what had really just happened over the past few days? Here I was, sprawled on the futon watching Kill Bill Volume 1, lulled by a warm comatose feeling of exhaustion and satisfied post-hectic workweek euphoria.
What a week, I thought looking at the screen as The Bride, aka Uma Thurman, drove a nail through the head of a Japanese schoolgirl.
Things kicked-off with a pre Cape Wine 2012 luncho hosted by David Finlayson from Edgebaston Wines. His American distributor, John Gorman from Southern Starz, was in Stellenbosch. Dave subsequently hauled out the big guns. Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet 2006. Margeaux 2001. Some Sauternes, but by then I was not counting. John was talking about a yacht cruise with some German tourists and I was spellbound by the breathtakingly awesome Margeaux, fleshier, sexier, brighter and juicier than the Germans John was describing.
Same day, just later. To Wellington and the launch of Wellington’s status as an independent South African wine region. Great speeches by Neil Pendock and Schalk Burger, good Dim Sum replaced the ubiquitous wineland staple of lamb-shank on mash with purple jus. Dim sum. Some Wellington folk seemed pretty confused by the mini bamboo washing basket placed before them, but I dug it the most.
Making small talk with Corlea Fourie from Bosman Vineyards. Making small talk with Corlea because the Bosman Lady Numero Uno she who goes by the cute name of Twinkle Bosman – was not at the event. No, Corlea says, no Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon served tonight. Damn. But there is some going down at the charity auction later the evening.
Charity auction comes along, talking to Anel and Jan from Spit or Swallow, and the vibe is homey. Pendock starts auctioning, and I raise my hand, feels good bidding on those lots, feels like Alan Pick, spreading fingers to chase up the bid.
Sold to the Big Guy! Moi.
Wake up the next morning having dropped a couple of G’s on two lots of Wellington vino. But I don’t mind as it is for a good cause something about money for farm kids to go jumping hurdles or throwing tennis balls. Plus, I got the Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon.
Spend Monday, Heritage Day, working on tasting notes for a new wine made by a rap singer. Lunch is Downtown Stellenbosch with Antonio Amorim, main honcho of Amorim Cork. Guy just landed from Porto, but he is up and running, up and running. We go through the speech he is to make at Cape Wine 2012, talk about the quality of a few Port vintages and share tales of the green hills of the Douro.
Talking Green, Cape Wine 2012 opens with Green Tie party. Place looks like a barn parked on the ocean, and the whole industry is there plus hordes of foreign buyers and media and sommeliers, all tasting wine and chilling, getting to know you. For entertainment, some strange guys in white suits are doing a dopey mime act to canned music.
The show opens next day, and wow. What a hall. Wine-stands by the hundreds, all neat as a pin, serious business. Bump into Andr+¬ Morgenthal. He us not sharing the joy. Dude’s looking surly and confused, like a member of the Village People who has accidently walked into a straight singles bar.
The opening speeches. Some boring black guy goes on for about nine hours on the economy. Su Birch gives a disappointingly shallow Wine Industry 101 lecture which would have been interesting to a three year old Martian.
Saved by Charles Banks from Mulderbosch. Really cool casual talk on passion and potential in South Africa, all delivered in calm drawl reminiscent of Cary Grant.
But is the Cape Wine 2012 gig pumping, or what? Tasting and drinking, drinking and tasting, international wine folk three-deep at the stalls. Our wine folk behind the stalls are doing their thing. Good manners. Informed. Enthusiastic. Friendly.
It is business, business, business, dudes. At Orange River Wine Cellars there is a rush for deals from all over the world. Local wineries scramble to meet new distributors.
Dig the Swartland Grand Funk stand. Mohammed Ali poster and other non-vino artefacts. Cool dudes. I order some chickens from Callie Louw, Porseleinberg. Talk boxing with a chick from the Sandveld, goes by the name of Katrien.
What was that? My name. Spoken in French. Did I hear correctly?
Yes, my Burgundian friends Jean-Luc and Florence, they have arrived. With something. A present.
It is a Poulet de Bresse chicken, they have brought for me. Smuggled in from France. Red head and blue feet intact. Fresh from the market in Macon. I accept this with gratitude, giving them both a kiss and copping a feel from Florence while I’m at it.
The nights are alive. A party at Rust en Vrede Restaurant. With Antonio Amorim. Schalk Burger. Jean Engelbrecht. Johann Krige. The whole joint, actually, is filled with main honchos. Makes Who’s Who look like Landbouweekblad.
Just as the 30 year old Offley Tawny is poured, Danie de Wet arrives from Amsterdam. Magnums of red wine are opened. Party starts again.
Birds chirp-chirp in the ancient oak trees as we walk out into the fresh air, terra firma the Rust en Vrede soil.
Some foreign wine writers invite me to a blind tasting of Beaune whites. I nail seven out of the 10 wines, including Clos des Mouches 2001. Bingo. Wins me a T-shirt sporting the name of a Finnish power drink.
Day ends with Cap Classique producers and forty foreign guests cruising on a motorised yacht in Table Bay. Weather picks-up, sending glasses of ros+¬ and poached oysters spilling. The Cape of Storms. We head back to firm land, where I bid adieu, sit down with a beer and count business cards while watching the rain clouds gather over Robben Island until a ray of light pierces through them and spreads across the ocean blue
It was the week that was.