The nearest South Africa comes to Chablis has nothing to do with Chardonnay. That searing slash of steely minerality found in Chablis is amiss from unwooded South African Chardonnays. Whilst some wines do offer some of those features wine boffins refer to as tense, nervous, edgy or wired, the country’s southern sunshine and its eagerness to ripen Chardonnay prevent the stony and anguished structure of the fruit from penetrating the juice.
Before fleeing certain death at the hands of the rampant Catholic hordes, my forefather knelt before the grave of his old man in the cemetery in La Motte D’Aigues. There Pierre Joubert promised that «Notre sang Joubert continuera à travers les vigne de l’Afrique » (Our Joubert blood shall continue through the vines of Africa.)
When my hero died, I hit the freezer seeking a bag of dead sheep stomach. Jim Harrison, the last of the great red-blooded male American writers, passed over Easter. And with Jim having been a bit of a gourmand, I decided to make a big pot of something meaty, hearty and comforting, something the great man would have approved of. Remember, this is the guy who once wrote: “Men were not born to eat small portions.”
Patat barked. And as Dachshunds do, his three fellow canines joined in to create a merry cacophony of yaps, these being of the “welcome to Meerlust” kind. The six other dogs who make up the bevy of hounds, larger and some less purer of breed than the Dachsies, were taking it easy, lounging on the sofas, armchairs and blankets spread through the various atmospheric rooms – moodily lit – that make up the splendid Meerlust manor house.
If you don’t like the results of wine competitions, don’t enter. Simple as that.competition season having just ended with this year’s Platter’s revelation, I have of late been privy to some unprecedented bitching from within the wine-making fraternity as to the credibility of results and the status of wine competitions-awards-judging and so on.
It ain’t over till it’s over. But now that Cape Wine 2015 really is a thing of the past, a few insights are rising out of the vinous haze like the sails of Viking boats appearing through the mists of eastern England.
I could not experience the country’s triannual wine showcase as a true visitor as there were business partners to assist and journalists to appease. Functions to host too. And here, business was excellent.
The Cape Winemakers Guild rode into town last week, literally commanding the urban stretch between Cape Town’s Taj Hotel and the downtown Convention Centre. First-up was a tasting of this year’s Auction wines, one of those events naffly described as “tutored”, after which the Guild boys and girls hit the rain-splashed streets to the Convention Centre where the greater public descended on their wares.
I am having a slight disagreement with Danie de Wet about limestone, that integral soil component needed for the growing of great Chardonnay grapes. And the debate’s gist involves creepy-crawlies and seashells.
Robertson, home to Danie and De Wetshof, also has the highest limestone content of any South African wine-producing region. Like Burgundy and Champagne has shown, Chardonnay comes to the fore in chalky lands. It has to do with pH and balance in the wines; structure and verve and longevity.
The wine joint now known as Stellenbosch Vineyards has changed its name more times than Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has swopped his tranquilizer prescription. I am not sure if I have managed to keep up, but the branding has included the holistically transcendental The Company of Wine People to the awesomely dull Omnia.
Spotting the second Snowy Egret ever to have winged into South Africa was supposed to be the highlight of my day. Thys Louw from Diemersdal Estate changed that. I had a rare bird in the hand, indeed, but it was worth two cases of good wine in the boot. Continue reading