Rare Pleasure with Simple Chenin Blanc

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Perlemoen, a.k.a abalone

It was a slimy little thing in a mother-of-pearl shell that went and got me all choked-up. Perlemoen we call it, also known as abalone. A creature found along the Cape Coast which has unfortunately become as scarce as a live suckling pig in Oporto due to perlemoen’s popularity in the Far East.

Not only is the legally-harvested stuff exported East, but local syndicates of ill-repute make millions poaching?+¦-+?+¡our perlemoen?+¦-+?+¡and shipping it out to China, Thailand and Vietnam. Not only is this seafood on the tasty size, but out East it purportedly is the generator of a good bone structure in the male nether regions. Which is bull-shit: if this was true I would have to walk backwards as I’ve grazed more perlemoen in my life than a cow has sucked grass.

So there it was, a fresh perlemoen lying before my. Legally procured, in case any of the self-appointed SASSI?+¦-+?+¡foodie brigade?+¦-+?+¡are wondering. And?+¦-+?+¡it brought back memories of eating this delicious animal with the late Afrikaans author Jan Rabie, as well as the hours I spent diving for it in my youth where one would get 50c for a perlemoen the size of a soup bowl.

After shucking the animal I lovingly beat the creamy pad of muscly flesh with a wooden mallet to tenderise it, cut it into thin slices and fried each slice in butter for three minutes before eating, hot, with a squirt of fresh lemon.

Heaven can wait.

Feeling all retro in a ?+¦?+º?+¦nostalgia-ain’t-what-it-used to be kind of way?+¦?+º?+æ I decided to wash the goodies down with Chenin Blanc, which was more commonly known as Steen in my perlemoen diving days. Good, clean unadulterated Chenin. Cold. Fresh. Wine-tasting.?+¦-+?+¡As it should be.

For how, oh how, have?+¦-+?+¡modern Chenin Blanc been ravaged with backwashes of botrytis and all this farty oxidative nonsense? All this three-tier solera, whole bunch-matured?+¦-+?+¡garbage.

Minimum intervention in the true sense of the word i.e. not pissing about for the crowds allows Chenin to come to the fore as it should.

The two uncomplicated and unwooded numbers I chose for this perlemoen feast were from different terroirs.

First up was the Beaumont Chenin Blanc 2012, the standard number and not the Hope Marguerite. And numero dos was Du Toitskloof Chenin Blanc 2012 from the Breedekloof.

Besides the geographical and climate differences between Beaumont’s Walker Bay/Bot River and Du Toitskloof’s Breedekloof, yields differ substantially. Beaumont’s are around 7 tons per hectare, while the guys in Breedekloof don’t get out of bed for anything under 15 tons on the white side.

But what two delicious, bright, brisk wines, each with its own appeal.

The Beaumont is a fuller wine which has obviously been mixing it up with a huge amount of gross lees. It had a refined acidity, white fruit and the stony dryness of the Chenin Blanc I grew up relating to and loving. The mouth-feel was not heavy, but satisfying and complete, as one would expect from Chenin made from vines up to 40yrs old.

My Du Toitskloof number was all sun, festive, fruity but with a bracing astringency to ensure things did not get too slutty. A soft gentle and approachable Chenin, but a whiff and taste of melon and pawpaw just to remind you that the sun shines and that a grape is actually a fruit.

Both wines paid a fitting tribute to a very special dish and reminded me of a time when wine-making was less showy and perlemoen were easy.

Fortunately there is still some of the former around.?+¦-+?+¡?+¦-+?+¡

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