Franc’s for the Woodstock Memories


Woodstock in all its glory.

“How much wood would Woodstock stock if Woodstock would stock wood?” This is about the extent of my poetry education received at a revered Cape Town Catholic primary school. And I was no stranger to the industrial Cape Town suburb of aforementioned Woodstock in those days of innocent youth.

While my toff classmates from Sea Point, Camp’s Bay and Oranjezicht would not be seen dead in that part of town during the 1970s’, I happily ventured to Woodstock to visit my buddies of Portuguese, Spanish and Italian origin who resided there.

Here you could score a crayfish from one of their father’s fishing boats, plunder a dusty booze cabinet filled with old Port or eat weird stuff like rabbit and pigeon, cooked by a black-dressed mamma donning a crucifix and whispering the name of her beloved Pedrito who had passed away during the War.

And if you were willing to put up with bacalhau breath and facial hair, said friends’ sisters were more than willing to engage in a bit of face-mashing.

Today Woodstock is tres trendy, the retro industrial facades, proximity to the City Bowl and lower rent attracting eateries, delis, arty shops and antique furniture stores whose owners like “creative spaces”.

The Old Biscuit Mill on Albert Road is a microcosm of Woodstock’s aesthetic rejuvenation. The Saturday Market has a fervent following of foodies, while restaurants such as Luke Dale-Roberts’s two joints and Burrata serve to further the flavourful landscape.

Visiting the Biscuit Mill for the First Time yesterday (confess: a late bloomer, moi) to sign an advertising deal, I popped in at a very cool wine store. Wine at the Mill. Which, deciding as a bottle of Port was needed, I popped into.

Hardcore rock pumped through the cavernous, high-ceilinged area. Bottles of wine are parked on shelves of heavy wood or held suspended from riddling racks.The angle is on smaller producers. Louis Nel. David Finlayson. Howard Booysen. Almenkerk. Luddite. Creation. And so forth.

Owner Nigel Cattermole showed me around, talking about business in general and Wine at the Mill’s loyal Jo’burg following, before regaling me with tales of two bottles of Graham’s 1945 Port he once drank with some air-force officers. Discovering we are both Chardonnay addicts, the visit became an engaging afternoon’s fun.

I also purchased a modest stash of vino, including a Port I have not gotten around to yet despite the Port-lust having led me there in the first place. However, said stash included the Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2010, which has just become my Wine of the Moment.

What a perky, beaut of a vino from the Duke of Cabernet Franc, Bruwer Raats.

The Dolomite alludes to the soil where the grapes are grown, although information is a little cagey on the exact origins. (Don’t you love the WO Western Bloody Cape producers can get away with?)

However, the variety is Cabernet Franc, aged in old oak. There is a brisk berriness to the wine which means that Bruwer could ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ I say could ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ have used a drop of another variety to fruiten-up the wine, as one is allowed to. Well,,up to 15% in any event.,But the wine’s,underlying feature is all pure Cabernet Franc. A touch of cedar and pine-needle. Crushed mulberry. A feathery mouth-feel and a lasting light finish, unlike the kiss of those furry-lipped Porra Woodstock chicks of my youth.

The wine lasted well throughout the evening. It was fresh and cool as an aperitif, went well with a supper of poached Highland Salmon, fennel Hollandaise and wild Porcini, and as a night-cap the wine was tender, warm and embracing.

A great bottle of wine.

Wine at the Mill. What a thrill. (Okay, poetry has not progressed since primary school.)

Recently there have been some mediocre wines in this kisser, too.

Normally these should not occupy valuable blog real estate, but the hype around Solms-Delta and Solms-Astor compels one to venture an opinion.

Solms-Delta is a prime example of where a good touchy-feely story can cloud rational judgement. Yes, all this deification of farm slaves, praising of vineyard workers, inspiring those morbid Andr+¬ P Brink Novels?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-+?-+..all this makes good PR talk. As a result, the Solms brand has a,fervent following,among sycophantic pinko vinous liberals.

Taking a cold, objective and hard look at two recent releases, however, I must honestly, forthrightly and with all due respect and lucid rationality declare that these are some of the kakkest wines I have tasted in a long time.

The Solms-Astor Vastrap 2011 is described by the marketing department as “an upfront blend of Chenin blanc, Semillon and Riesling (that) sets toes and tastebuds tapping”.

A tapping tastebud?

The wine, however, had a boxed-in reductiveness redolent of huge co-operative blends before cooling, shoes or wine-making savvy had been discovered.

The red version, Langarm, is termed “lavender” in the media release. This, too, is a useless wine. Bulging with clumsiness, it has no freshness, direction or lasting palatable traits.

Nice packaging. Great stories. Superb location in Franschhoek. But it don’t mean a dime, if you ain’t got the wine.

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