Burgundy breaks you, and I am broken. Slowly, though, just beginning to pick-up the pieces after a head-on collision with the power and the beauty, totally seduced by the devilish-angelic allure of one of the greatest producers from the world’s most revered wine region.
Like Simba’s tomato sauce-flavoured chips, fresh abalone, Iron Brew and red Vienna sausages, the taste of wine made from the Tempranillo grape still sticks to me, conjuring memories of an ill-spent – yet well-fed – youth. Anyone back-packing through Europe in his or her late teens during the 1980’s and finding yourself holed down in Spain, will attest to consuming Spanish Tempranillo – mainly from Rioja – by the bucket-load. It was plentiful, ubiquitous and available in cheap flagons. A burst of berries, that wanted comforting alcoholic hit and then a plush finish, the result of Rioja makers’ love of using American oak.
A few South Africans had the fortune of tasting the wines of Domaine de la Romanée laid on by importer Great Domaines. David Finlayson from Edgebaston Family Vineyards in Stellenbosch was one. Here are his thoughts.
People become winemakers for different reasons, the main ones being they see a career that looks relatively interesting, offers a decent salary, opportunity to travel, you can consume your product etc, etc. But there are also those winemakers who make wine for an added reason – passion. A passion to strive and aspire to vinous perfection, year after year and over their lifetime. I like to think that I am one of these winemakers.
No matter how long it turns out to be, life appears too short to understand Italian wines. The 2000 plus grape varieties, regions, sub-regions, villages, communes and city boundaries that constitute the nation’s vinous character make the divisions of Burgundy and Bordeaux look like kid’s stuff.
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.
When in doubt, say Italian. This is Peter de Wet from DeWetshof’s advice to one faced with the challenge of identifying an unknown international wine. And with so many bloody wines coming out of the Boot, it’s sage and practical counsel.
But it’s funny how in one week Italy can make a turn in one’s vinous consciousness all of three times.
The beautiful people were there, tanned and bare-fleshed; long-limbed with gleaming white teeth and discreetly clattering jewellery, and smelling o-so-lovely as you walked by. And those were just the guys.
French Toast, wine and tapas emporium in Bree Street, Cape Town is hot, hip and happening. Also very good. Hammer wine selection. Fine stemware. Also, it understands tapas. Fresh and tasty, and just-so portioned with fresh bread. White anchovies and calamari to die for. Check out the charcuterie. Cheese. Sausage. Sauces.