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.
If you can remember the Stellenbosch Wine Festival of the old days’, you probably weren’t there. This was held in the Town Hall in Plein Street, and around its heyday circa 1982 it was an ideal place to get mindlessly drunk under the pretence of experiencing Stellenbosch’s wine culture. I mean, give a few hundred 19 to 25 year olds a wine glass and tell then they can get it topped up all night for free, and the result is not going to end in spirited debates on the poetry of NP van Wyk Louw interspersed with rigorous bouts of waltzing to a boere-orkes.
One of the many Cape estates experiencing an endless summer of wine tourism success is Simonsig, and this is no surprise. The Stellenbosch farm has always been a wine tourism pioneer. In the 1970’s legendary patron Frans Malan played a lead role in engineering wine tourism in South Africa and as far back as I can remember Simonsig has always been known as a winery with open doors and a hospitable, welcoming atmosphere.
I howled into Paris determined to find great Chenin Blanc wine. Being a homo sapiens Africanus South, Chenin Blanc is my national white wine, so we are told. It is was one of the grape varieties lovingly crushed by Jan van Riebeeck’s singing slaves at the birth of South Africa’s wine industry in 1659 and since then has been a ubiquitous feature on the local terroir.
I love a winter vineyard. There is just something magical about the starkness of the gnarled, leafless vines and their bewitching tentacles that strikes a chord with my heritage which is one where the tracks of cold country European wanderers lie etched in the annals of meaningless history.
If Janet Leigh were a bottle of Pinot Noir in the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho and Norman Bates was a cumulative representation of terroir, Janet would have screamed her tits off in that shower scene. No grape, besides Chardonnay, reacts with such hysterical abandon to soil, climate and nature’s other vagaries as Pinot Noir.
A while back I asked MCC-producer Pieter Ferreira for one sound-byte, which is a tad like requesting a single swear word from Gordon Ramsay, as Pieter fits enough ideas and phrases into one sentence to fill a hard-drive. But upon asking Pieter to sum up one single point of differentiation he would use to sell South African wines, he simply answered: “Sunshine.”
The words ?+¦?+º?+¦good and clean and fresh?+¦?+º?+æ may have sold trillions of boxes of washing powder, but these descriptors also reflect the whims of the majority of wine drinkers. And seeing as most South Africans drink white wine, clean and fresh wines are sought, with good being non-negotiable.
Let’s delve into 2012. What are the predictions for this year’s vinous calendar? Here are four. Readers are invited to add a fifth. The best entry will receive a bottle from WineGoggle’s private cellar. Continue reading →
The South African wine industry is set to follow the example of local citrus producers by employing the services of wild baboons to help identify superior fruit quality and to create new varietals. This follows the recent international media frenzy where reporters descended upon the Western Cape town of Citrusdal to report on the success a major citrus farmer had after the taste-buds of the mountain baboons had assisted him in creating a new sweeter-tasting and all-round improved variety of orange.
According to Faizel van der Vyver, a wine grower from the Western Cape’s Breederivier wine region, the assistance of baboons in identifying better grapes for winemaking must not be underestimated. “I let the troops of baboons patrol my Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc vines, and it is interesting to see which grapes they eat and which they leave behind,” says Van der Vyver. “Here in the harvest season they will only select grapes at optimum ripeness, around 25?+¦?????+¦???-¬B and disregard bunches that are not yet fit for harvest. Their ability to detect the correct degree of skin or pip greenness is uncanny.”