Drooling with history, heritage, culture and all those x-factors classic wine industry marketing requires, Stellenbosch’s Lanzerac brand keeps a relatively low profile. Its setting at the beginning of the Jonkershoek valley is majestic. History goes back to 1692. Aesthetically the Cape Dutch “Prag-en-Praal” hotel and winery is crisply colonial enough to have a UCT pink liberal itching for his dung-bucket. And colourful moments in Lanzerac’s wine legacy include its name as the first ever Pinotage bottling anywhere, circa 1959.
The busty blonde school-teacher points to the red carnation on the jacket-lapel next to a voluminous breast and asks Johnny at the back of the science class, “Tell me what this flower lives from,?” Johnny chirps, “Milk, Miss!” The class is hosing with laughter.
A good hamburger is a thing of greasy, bloody beauty. Lambasted and mocked for its status as the junkiest of all junk-foods and its supposed representation of American imperialism, the hamburger simply does not get the recognition it deserves as a great contribution to the culinary arts.
And as a partner to good wine, well, here the humble burger does not receive much air-time, commentators preferring to discuss wines paired with exotic hunks of organically-procured wagyu beef scrotum, simmered sous vide style and drizzled with a jus made of herb-fed, spa-raised deer carcass. On the side, rocket-infused crushed Peruvian blue potatoes drizzled with white truffle oil.
It is supposed to be a joyous annual occasion, but somehow I am always left with a thickness in the throat and a sense of loss. Once a year I head out to Kanonkop Estate to collect my annual wine allocation, a trip during which from the outset everything around me looks brighter and sharper, all appearing right with the world due to the knowledge that within an hour a few boxes of South Africa’s best red wine will be mine.
If you can remember the Stellenbosch Wine Festival of the old days’, you probably weren’t there. This was held in the Town Hall in Plein Street, and around its heyday circa 1982 it was an ideal place to get mindlessly drunk under the pretence of experiencing Stellenbosch’s wine culture. I mean, give a few hundred 19 to 25 year olds a wine glass and tell then they can get it topped up all night for free, and the result is not going to end in spirited debates on the poetry of NP van Wyk Louw interspersed with rigorous bouts of waltzing to a boere-orkes.
Jay McInerney, the American novelist who proved that one can become a competent wine writer after years of heavy cocaine snorting, says he can smell a Haut-Brion Bordeaux wine from across the room. Whether this says something about that wine or Jay’s perceptive olfactory sense is not clear, but after all the Bolivian marching powder the Dude did, my money is on the wine.
I love a winter vineyard. There is just something magical about the starkness of the gnarled, leafless vines and their bewitching tentacles that strikes a chord with my heritage which is one where the tracks of cold country European wanderers lie etched in the annals of meaningless history.
I was chasing salted squid, eating baby pigs and talking to jaded fado songstresses when I missed the party. Well, one of them.
The one I was sorry to have slipped-up on was the maiden launch of two wines in the solo portfolio of Duncan Savage, also known as Cape Point Duncan. You know the dude I am referring to: the eternally boyish winemaker, he of the disarming smile and manicured facial hair who single-handedly turned Cape Point Vineyards into a South African icon winery in less than a decade.
The woman with the floppy hat and yellow facial sunscreen looked at me as if I’d asked her to perform the Gangnam Style in her second-hand underwear. ?+¦?+º?+¦Don’t make such a noise,?+¦?+º?+æ she whispered. ?+¦?+º?+¦We think we’ve got a Levaillant’s Cisticola.?+¦?+º?+æ
I peered over at the other members in her group. Most had the same floppy-hats and were donning binoculars of different sizes, coloured black or military green. ?+¦?+º?+¦You might have a Levaillant’s Cisticola, but I’ve got a date with a cold bottle of sparkling wine,?+¦?+º?+æ I said, flooring the Citro?+¦-ú??n and sending a few Cisticolas, Furry Bummed Cisterians and Blue Hardened Tits – or whatever it is that bird-watchers find intriguing – flapping into the mountains above Plaisir de Merle.
I was looking at the prostitute and thinking about a wine from Stellenbosch. Okay, the aforementioned was not a real slut. It was just Penelope Cruz playing one. One called Anna in Woody Allen’s masterly new movie To Rome with Love. Halfway through watching Cruz-Anna’s pouting?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+bending?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+seducing?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+stroking and my mouth was dry as a Keimoes pot-plant, my rampant heartbeat disturbing the chick with the hearing-aid sitting next to me.
A skilled, classic acting technique with Pinteresque comic timing tends to do this to us artists.