I never miss an Amorim Recorking gig. Not that I want to indulge in the delicate opening of rare vintage wines with crumbly corks that need to be extricated with the skill of a brain surgeon and the patience of space-shuttle pilot in landing mode. But whenever the Amorim team sets-off to put new corks in old bottles, one gets to taste the contents that have been slumbering for three, four decades.
The world of wine is filled with the kind of ubiquitous terminology designed to confuse a disciple of logical thinking, as well as enough fads, fashions and trends to make a Vogue editor return to pig-tails, tie-died shirts and crimpelene jackets. Like mindfulness or karma, “organic” is one of the words that everyone thinks they should like, but no-one actually understands.
The one thing I dread about attending any formal wine industry discussion is that corny cliché of “South African wines are too cheap” and producers must therefore simply go ahead and raise their prices. Just like those who encourage the eradication of “boring commercial” grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and propose replacing them with trendy Trousseau, Cinsault and Verdelho, the urge to raise price is usually made by folk without any real economic dependence on or general clue of the business side of the wine industry.
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.
It was a good week to be a glutton. A smiling, happy carbohydrate consuming glutton as opposed to the dour folk who so religiously follow the gospel according to Professor Tim Noakes, he of the constipation-induced grin and dial-a-quote sound-bite. The only thing Noakes likes more than a super high protein egg-yolk omelette with extra fatty bacon is feasting on the reams of newsprint that has followed him and his announcing the evils of all things carbohydrate and pleasurable whilst prophesizing the apparent health-giving properties of a diet comprising mostly of fatty, meaty, cheesy and nutty edibles.
?+¦-+?+¡Having smuggled the Chardonnay vine-cuttings into the country with which the industry was founded, we Jouberts have always been partial to South Africa’s interpretation of the royal Burgundian white. From the smoky sweet clunkers of the 80’s, the high-alcoholic 90’s and the experiments with malolactic fermentation in the early 2000’s, the advent of South African Chardonnay has been well-documented and discussed during family gatherings. Not to mention consumed. In fact, all the grand-children of Fritz Joubert, the mule who clandestinely carted the cuttings from the Clos des Mouches to Robertson, were Christened with a thumb-print of Louis-Jadot Meursault on the forehead.
Despite the calls to duty asking us to embrace Chenin Blanc as the National South African White Grape and the reactionary colourful spats generated by the Sauvignon Blanc fraternity, there is only one real South African white wine worth taking to an international gun-fight, and he be Chardonnay.
Stellenbosch is, and always will be, the greatest red wine producing region in South Africa. Why? Same reason that Hawaii has great pipeline, Germans make good cars and Chelsea will win the Champions League: because God intended it that way.