The Napoleonic episode shalt from now on be known as the Agony of Lourensford, where the words ?+¦?+º?+¦In victory you deserve it and in defeat you need it?+¦?+º?+æ are still ringing through the fynbos-covered valleys of this Helderberg Estate. Napoleon was, of course, referring to the noble elixir of Champagne, while my interpretation pertains to two very different wines. Different from Champagne, and from each other.
After a successful training session for a bit of off-road jogging around the Lourensford Wine Estate, a recovery session called for a deeply satisfying red wine. The first brisk chill of autumn had set in, and a fine breeze from the north had cooled both the exposed body parts as well as the soul, which was still basking somewhere between Clifton 3rd Beach and a bush-pub in Kakamas. The wine that caught my eye was a new offering from Stellenzicht called Red Escape. Well, with that label you’d have to be as short-sighted as a liquor law regulator from the DA to miss the Red Escape. Colourful, it combines techno appeal with childlike drawings which is quite unlike anything I have encountered on a wine label to date.
At R50, this blend of Pinotage and Shiraz was affordable much more so than Energade, Red Bull, Vitamin Water or whatever boring sports’ drink all those rakish jocks wash down after training sessions.
I found the Red Escape a deeply satisfying wine. Inky black in colour, it propels whiffs of mulberry and smoked meat at you, preparing the tasting tools for a whack of warm fruit. And it does not disappoint. Layers of spice, plum and dried Burmese mango wallow in a heady viscous layer of sensual vinous pleasure. Actually, it is the mouth-feel of this wine that was especially appealing, kind of like being French kissed by a Persian princess who’d just celebrated her first botox treatment by sucking some New World Shiraz and forgetting to wipe her mouth.
This was just the sort of inspiration needed for the following day’s jog around Lourensford.
Flash forward. A buckled knee, caused by my gallant attempt during the race to keep an especially aggressive Cape Cobra from inserting its poisonous fangs into the sweaty thigh of fellow jogger. It took just one kick in the direction of the snake to do in my straining knee, the ripping sound of the cartilage causing the snake to flee thinking it was Moses tearing a branch off a thorn tree.
Holed-up, thus, in great pain and with enormous self-pity, I needed a good drink, and one as stiff as my buggered knee.
So hobbling to the cellar I went, and a bottle bearing the Cape Winemakers Guild label caught my eye, which was not difficult as it was the only one in my modest collection. The wine was a 2009 Garibaldi Nebbiolo, one made by John Loubser and quite apt as polite and friendly John sort of reminds me of the kind of surgeon I hope is going to be operating on this knee soon.
Italian varieties are, like many things Italian, all over the bloody place and I really think John can show the Wops a thing or two in their own winelands. His Garibaldi Nebbiolo, made from vines grown at Steenberg in Constantia, is linear, pure and as true as any Hemingway clich+¬. A stony mineral austerity marks a wine of class and seriousness, while the fruit-structure is mildly intoxicating with complex notes of clove, dried organically grown Fairtrade certified pimento and a bit of smoked sultana.
It is a magnificent wine, the freshness and clarity being most attractive reminding me of folk singer Al Stewart’s immortal words: ?+¦?+º?+¦Like a watercolour in the rain?+¦?+º?+æ.
Having deserved the Red Escape and needed Loubser’s CWG Garibaldi Nebbiolo, the circle is complete. But when this operation is done, Champagne it will be.