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.
Let’s do dinner.
And yes, Chinese Girl likes wine. So we set off for a place unknown with a box of Delaire Graff.
She is intrigued at the choice of wine, preferring classic French as Chinese do, but I assure her that as a venue Delaire Graff might be a glorious example of opulent style set on a dramatic natural backdrop, but the wines are, too, just fine, thank you very much.
I am in your hands, she says as we head to dine at the secret artists hideaway outside Stellenbosch, the only South African restaurant to have achieved an unofficial three star Michelin star.
Sauvignon Blanc I say while she nods, staring me down with pursed lips. The Delaire Graff Coastal Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is a deliciously inoffensive example of this pungent grape variety. The fruit originates from various regions, including Stellenbosch and cooler Darling, giving the wine a crystal clear purity. A clean, fresh smack of ocean spray, granite and just-ripe stone-fruit. She dreams of such wine, she says, and orders slivers of blue-fin toro cut from the fatty fish stomach.
In the wilderness, Chinese Girls says, we dream of evenings like these. Stuck on a canvas. Being ogled. Alone with your thoughts while people come uninvited and look at you.
Do you like privacy, I ask. She smiles and eats raw tuna. Swallows wine. If I liked privacy I would never have become a work of art.
I open a bottle of Delaire Graff Chardonnay 2012. She looks on as the aroma wafting up from the fine Burgundy glass arouses her sense of smell. That lovely nose, like a plum cut by an origami artist wrinkles. She smiles. And says the wine smells of silk and sun.
We drink it with a piece of duck breast poached in oolong tea, champagne, butter and white truffle.
The wine has a life-affirming zest. She sits back and takes another sip. Says she smells nuts and butter, smells of baking, but that the fresh citrus complements these flavours. I tell her it is a beautiful wine, made from the Delaire Graff vineyards in Stellenbosch. The wine is wooded for complexity and structure, and like her yellow tunic, enriches the wine.
Drinking such wine, Chinese Girl says, I am reminded of how long I’ve been in the wilderness. So long, people think I am just a layer of paint. We laugh and I stroke her delicate wrist, which is surprisingly warm.
Because her face is blue, Chinese Girl finds it difficult to blush. But the way she strokes her thick shiny ink-black hair indicates that she would blush if she could.
Power, she says. Without power life is nothing. Power and love. Being a work of art I get a lot of love. But not enough power.
So I pour a glass of Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2010, like Chinese Girl an icon. Built on Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. If you had power, I say, you’d be like this wine. Elegance with power.
The wine smells like a small room filled with an autumn forest. And dark soil teeming with life.
We eat 90 day-old lamb loin, grilled on a fire made from vine-cuttings. She says she likes eating young animals.
Botmaskop is a perfect wine for such food, as perfect as Chinese Girls hands which no-one has seen. Dark, brooding fruit and haunting flavours of forest and pine. Fig paste and hot tar on which the first summer rain has fallen. Melted silk in the mouth, followed by fresh sweat.
Do you know what the best thing about tonight is, she asks smiling with stained teeth. I, Chinese Girl, I live for ever. All we artworks do.
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