Worlds apart, the wine businesses of Portugal and South Africa share one overriding similarity. And that is the search for global recognition as a big league player.
Nestled in the heart of the Douro Valley, the village of Pinhão was being drenched by sheets of icy rain riding into northern Portugal on a brutal cold wind from west Spain. It was all grey and misty and chill, but not even the sight of a ugly horde of red-shirted EFF water-bottle throwers or the sound of a whining Donald Trump speech would have rendered the Douro anything but magnificently beautiful. It truly is God’s wine country, the vines clinging to the 40 degree slopes, all granite and schist reaching to the heavens and stopping at about 1000m above the river.
Last week’s Amorim Cork Alvarinho wine-tasting at Muratie gripped me with soil-encrusted hands, held me against a blue overall smelling of olive oil, garlic and sardines, and threw me over to the Atlantic Coast of north Portugal. Few things can export you to those other places, foreign and exotic and special, the way a wine does. And for this, the white grape of the Vinho Verde region, Alvarinho, does it in a way no others can.
Apart from the groin wax I once had to endure for a Speedo swimwear shoot, recipe-writing remains right up there with my painful-of-painful experiences. However, due to popular demand and an impassioned commitment to countless loyal readers, I am compelled to attempt offering a recipe for a rice dish which came out of my pot at a recent cooking contest at the Palms Market in Woodstock, sponsored by SPEKKO rice.
Well-known Afrikaans novelist and journalist Jaco Kirsten recently launched a runaway success of a website, meneer.tv, which reports on bar-fighting skills, hot chicks and hang-over cures, as well as a number of less profound topics. According to Jaco, also a magazine editor and media expert, internet posts in the form of naming a “list of” attracts three times more “hits” than chunks of dense prose.
Tradition commands one to stand when drinking a wine older than your person, a custom the calling for which becomes less and less as Father Time crawls along. But yesterday, in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal I was on my feet whilst attending a tasting at the great Port house of Graham’s.
One of the signs that the world is becoming a place for pussies is the downward spiral in global Port consumption. The alcoholic power of this magnificent wine style, as well as its delectable and uncompromising sweetness, has fallen out of favour in a wine world obsessed with purporting to drink stuff of restrained elegance and linearity. A hefty 18% per volume sugar-induced kick appears too much to handle for sensitive modern souls, and the inky blackness might just stain those freshly capped teeth.