The nearest South Africa comes to Chablis has nothing to do with Chardonnay. That searing slash of steely minerality found in Chablis is amiss from unwooded South African Chardonnays. Whilst some wines do offer some of those features wine boffins refer to as tense, nervous, edgy or wired, the country’s southern sunshine and its eagerness to ripen Chardonnay prevent the stony and anguished structure of the fruit from penetrating the juice.
Despite efforts to deny it, Afrikaans is the lingua franca of the South African wine industry. Without a cursory idiomatic knowledge of the language and an appreciation for its nuances, much of what wine people wish to convey from their souls is lost upon the ears unfamiliar to the language’s expressive depth.
A fine warm-to-hot Boland day, a light and airy space, a collection of pleasant South African wine people. Add a bit of a morning-after thirst raging in a mouth drier than the adjectives in nun’s love-letter. And this was a good day to drink white wine, which is exactly what I did with 20 Sauvignon Blancs at Friday’s FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10.
There is an assumption that dog-owners begin to look like their hounds after a while. While I am not hung like a dachshund nor have attempts to housetrain me been unsuccessful, I do share some similarities with Friedl. A keen sense of smell and on-cue drooling upon seeing a slice of beef biltong – as well as a knack for getting on with bitches – are shared similarities of the uncanny kind.
One of the rules about imbibing states one should never drink alcohol when thirsty. I never got the memo.
Thirst, real throat-scorching, spleen-drying thirst can for me only be quenched by a few healthy slurps of cold booze. Beer, icy and foamy, is an obvious candidate. Novelist Jay McInerney even used beer when reviewing a particularly good batch of cocaine in Bright Lights, Big City. Something about the snort of Bolivian marching powder being as gorgeously satisfying as a “sip of cold beer on a hot summer’s day”.
Spotting the second Snowy Egret ever to have winged into South Africa was supposed to be the highlight of my day. Thys Louw from Diemersdal Estate changed that. I had a rare bird in the hand, indeed, but it was worth two cases of good wine in the boot. Continue reading
I have pulled hundreds of fish from the foamy blue sea along the continent’s great south coast, but had never visited the wine region some six clicks from the ocean at Elim. This is the Big South, an evocative sparse, windswept and empty land. Flowing green fynbos slopes with vineyards in-between. Charming old farm buildings with walls thick enough to ward-off a tribe of armed abalone smugglers. And pretty good juice, too.
A taxing few days’ Oriental dining were accompanied by some Sauvignon Blanc wines, and I am happy to report that I appear to have lived to tell the tale. Like the culinary offerings of the East, Sauvignon Blanc is never-ever going to be truly great, but as the dining sessions showed, it is a wine that does provide fleeting, brisk sustenance of the vinous kind.
Quietly and without making a big huff and puff, Franschhoek is putting its hand up as a premier Chardonnay region. While Cape Chamonix is – deservedly – getting the bulk of the attention as the region’s Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir) heavy-weight, I rate Môreson as one of South Africa’s most exciting interpreters of the world’s greatest white variety.
The farm has an easy elegance and an invigorating youthful appeal. From the Bread and Wine restaurant and deli, to the quirky names of its wines and the fresh enthusiasm of the unassuming winemaker Clayton Reabow, Môreson has always struck my tuning fork.
Looking hard enough at Chinese Girl, the famous Tretchikoff painting perching on an easel at her new home on the Delaire Graff wine estate, she comes alive. A rustle of the yellow silk tunic, a stirring of that jet black hair, a surly smile set in that intriguing blue-purple face. What lovely red lips.