Unlike the hordes of grumpy halitosis sufferers on the High-Fat-No-Carb diet thumb-sucked by Tim Noakes, I don’t mind much for a bit of sweet. Especially when it comes to matters wine-ish.
Sweet wines are, after-all, closer and more naturally aligned to the grape than those fermented dry. The essence, the life-affirming plushness and the natural sugar-clad cloak of the grape remains untouched in wine’s sweet versions, bringing a sense of tremendous goodwill and satisfaction.
In the good old days the boasting of gentlemen would mostly be confined to matters physical or material. Serious guy-stuff. Like who does the best air-guitar to “Stairway to Heaven”, which of you can consecutively inhale two Gauloise unfiltered and who can give the most graphically enthralling description of what it really was like getting to first base with the vampish Veronica Dimpelbosch.
But now everybody seems to spend time bragging about how cool the area is in which they make wine. Cool as in low temperature chilliness and not trendy.
The paradox is typical of South Africa. On the one hand, holding a glass of supremely elegant, noble and classical white wine made from one of the world’s finest grapes, a thing called Chardonnay. The other hand is grasping dry red rocky Karoo soil, the very same soil from which the fine wine originates.
?+¦-+?+¡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.
On the local front, the general consensus appears to be that Chardonnay needs wood-maturation to attain optimal expression and depth. Woodless Chardonnays are not given much serious thought in competitions or discussions, largely the result of the label ?+¦?+º?+¦un-wooded?+¦?+º?+æ seeming to imply something is amiss or that the bottle contains juice deemed not good enough for barrel nor a serious audience.