Despite having the blood of La Grande Nation coursing through my robust veins, the French can really get on my pods of pectoral muscle, commonly known as tits. Take the current form of Les Bleus in the Rugby Six Nations. Not only are they playing with the listlessness of an unbaked baguette, but their tight five – traditionally the mainstay of French rugby – appear to be sponsored by Weigh-Less and the Peace Brigade. And as far as passion goes, they apparently left their spines in the Montmartre whorehouse where their mothers worked.
We were talking about a herd of lion devouring a still-living eland when Boela Gerber walked in with a bottle. I tried to follow the rest of wild-life photographer Hannes Lochner’s story, which was getting interesting: the black mane Kalahari lions were now plucking the eland’s wriggling fetus from her cavity. But the Cape Winemakers Guild wine Boela was carrying was more exciting, more visceral, more thrilling.
Groot Constantia Estate remains the mother-ship of the South African wine industry, but as we all know Bigger is not always seen as Better. The fact that Groot Constantia is inundated with tourists which it accommodates with an unabashed veneer of commercialism – take the red double-decker London bus driving between carefully planted vines – makes it difficult for the uninitiated to take the wine seriously. For common-thinking has us incorrectly believing that commercialism is a curse and good wine, and I mean really good wine, can only be made on small, tidy estates unhindered by the rampant wonts of Mammon and droves of digital-savvy noodle-eaters from the East.
You know your reputation as a wine writer is sound when you leave a wedding with a free bottle sample. Okay, it was a wine industry wedding, possibly the one of the year. Groot Constantia cellarmaster Boela Gerber exchanged vows with genteel-handed physiotherapist Michaela Nevin during a wonderful summer-evening ceremony on the Estate.
I was chasing salted squid, eating baby pigs and talking to jaded fado songstresses when I missed the party. Well, one of them.
The one I was sorry to have slipped-up on was the maiden launch of two wines in the solo portfolio of Duncan Savage, also known as Cape Point Duncan. You know the dude I am referring to: the eternally boyish winemaker, he of the disarming smile and manicured facial hair who single-handedly turned Cape Point Vineyards into a South African icon winery in less than a decade.
Winemakers are set to become the next commercial celebrities. While Tokara cellarmaster Miles Mossop has been creating a stir ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and a few swoons ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ with his heartfelt endorsement of Nescaf+¬ coffee in a current television commercial, local and international brands are clambering over each other for the acting talents and brooding physical presence so characteristic of South African winemakers.