Springfield Wines and a Taste of the Exotic

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Do not look a beached whale in the mouth. Instead, walk around its head to the bulky girth and cut yourself a steak or two. Forget beef from beer-fed wagyu or grass-reared Angus cows. Those Japanese kobe numbers who listen to opera, slurp organic egg-nog and get one massage per day plus a weekly hand-job? No way. Whale meat out-performs all these on the MeatOmeter as far as taste, texture and more-ishness goes.

Of course, whale meat is a bit tricky to come by. Forty years ago you could pick the stuff up, dirt cheap, at a butchery in Long Street, Cape Town. But today it is far easier to score heroin in Long Street than it is to get a grip on a piece of Southern Right sashimi.

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Cape Wine 2012 in a Rush

 

Uma Thurman shows that a Merlot tasting can get messy.

The Bride had just sliced the head off her second masked Yakuza gangster when it hit me: what had really just happened over the past few days? Here I was, sprawled on the futon watching Kill Bill Volume 1, lulled by a warm comatose feeling of exhaustion and satisfied post-hectic workweek euphoria.

What a week, I thought looking at the screen as The Bride, aka Uma Thurman, drove a nail through the head of a Japanese schoolgirl.

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Spirit of Independence in Wellington

 

Beautiful Wellington.

To quote my late English teacher, Mister Struthers-Boshoff, “you is what you is, not what’s you thinks you are”. The folk of Wellington in the Western Cape might speak better English – these days – but the fact remains the same: Wellington has long deserved independence as a wine region from neighbour Paarl, to which it was linked via ward status until this year. Because the region knows what it is and knows it can stand on its own two legs.

Although Wellington’s push for independence – carefully actioned by the delicate force of former Springbok rugby player Schalk Burger – may have been egged-on by the general confusion and regional inactivity of Wine of Origin Paarl. As a united regional entity, Paarl is fast becoming about as relevant as a rare foie gras at a vegetarien love-in.

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Paardeberg Steals the Crown from Out-of-Form Simonsberg

Putting on a brave face - Rijk and Kim Melck from Simonsberg with judge Neil Pendock.
In a week-end of international tragedies, culinary travesty hit the Stellenbosch Wine Region when the Simonsberg ward lost its annual Potjiekos Competition against the Paardeberg. Simonsberg, an established community inhabited by award-winning winemakers and a number of foodie personalities, were well and truly beaten by a Paardeberg team who were better in all aspects of Potjiekos making. Continue reading

Riesling on La Vierge of a Nervous Breakdown

Heidi Klum loves her Riesling.

UNTIL about two months ago I deemed Heidi Klum, bratwurst and miniature Dachshunds the only useful and worthy contributions Germany has made to the world. Things have changed: the German soccer team is playing some uncharacteristically exciting, adventurous football and look to be going all the way in World Cup 2010. And then there was that occasion a while back where journo Neil Pendock and sommelier-wine showman Jo?+¦???+¦?+¦-+?+¦-úrg Pf?+¦???+¦?+¦???+ætzner held a memorable quest to ascertain whether Germany or Alsace were better at making wine from the old Riesling grape.

This was my first exposure to a solid line-up of Rieslings, and I almost wet my pants at the breadth and joy of these wines. I know of no other grape able to exude such a relentless variation of styles and such a schizophrenic flavour-profile. From honey to bitter lemon; liquorice to cherry blossom; Turkish delight,to Turk’s arm-pit, all these found in a wine made from Riesling grapes.

Last week I was back before a line-up of Rieslings, courtesy of Krige Visser, former King of Cool Marketing Guru at Avondale and now new general manager of La Vierge, a winery in the Hemel-and-Aarde Vally outside Hermanus. As Riesling producers, the La Vierge team organised a tasting of wines from Germany, Alsace and South Africa. The idea was not to compare SA wines to the others, but rather to witness the expression of the grape by producers in the Northern Hemisphere as well as a single Oz wine.

Remembering our night of Alsatian-German rivalry in a trendy sushi joint in Cape Town, it was like dejavu all over again. The German wines once again literally blossomed with soft, bright fruity sweetness. If I was feeling like a kid in a candy store it was because this is what the wines smelt and tasted like. Willi Schaefer Graacher Riesling Trocken 2008 from the Mosel. ,Lucashof Forster Musenhang Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2009. Our old pal Dr Loosen from the Mosel was there with an Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett.

,They were awesome wines, the candy, fruity whimsy supported by stern backbones and racy tannins. For me, the stand-out was Willi Schaefer’s number. Wine gummy and a touch of raisin, it also had a waxiness that made it last longer than EverReady bunny on Red Bull.

I was glad to see that my initial observation of the Alsatian still stood. The wines are firmer, less fruity but more grippy and powerful. Bracing, lean with taut ripples ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ like reading a Hemingway short story while listening to Steely Dan. The stand-outs for me were Domaine Shlumberger Les Princes Abb+¬s, Trimbach Clos St Hune 2004 and Trimbach Cuv+¬e Fr+¬derick Emile 2002. (With a name like the latter wine, how could,things go wrong?)

The Oz wine, an old Peter Lehmann, was toasty and unimpressive.

The distinct and very palpable variation between Germany and Alsace underscored my theory that any South African producer attempting to duplicate a German or Alsatian should either see a psychiatrist or get his head read. No way are we going to emulate these styles.

As the tasting of the South African line-up of Klein Constantia, La Vierge and Hartenberg showed, terroir will make it nay impossible to replicate the bright gaiety of the German wines or the lengthy minerality of the Alsatians.

But why should we want to? Style SA Riesling is dense, concentrated and it growls at you. It is in-your-face, but like a Protea has beauty in its confidence when expressing sense of place.

Now get out there, market and get more people to discover the greatness of SA Riesling.

-,,,,,,,,, Emile Joubert

A Great Alsatian.