The Village of Hospitality and Pinot Noir

Afrikaans, the lingua franca of the South African wine industry, has a plethora of words non-translatable into English. One of these is “kuier” – pronounced “kay-er” – a handy verb, adjective and noun.

The most conservative use implies kuier‘s definition of “visit” or “call-upon”. Such as, I am going to pop around for a kuier at Château Pétrus for the week-end. Or Nigella Lawson came to kuier at my place bearing crumpet and Champagne.

A more convivial use of this word, and here is where the untranslatable part comes in, is using kuier to imply a convivial gathering and a friendly, warm-hearted hospitable experience. While one can indeed go and kuier your terminally ill mother-in-law in ICU, the same word crosses-over for use in describing less sombre and less-pained emotional experiences. This would be to the tune of “Max brought a crate of Guinness to my place to watch the rugby, and we kuiered until dawn.”

This Afrikaans word comes to mind often when thinking about Pinot Noir. For the late Ronnie Melck, owner of Stellenbosch’s Muratie Estate, former CEO at Stellenbosch Farmers Winery, legendary raconteur and recognised as one of the most accomplished wine-tasters the country has ever produced, used to describe Pinot Noir as his favourite kuier-wine. In other words, if you are going to be in an environment of hospitality where casual camaraderie among friends drives the occasion, the best wine to drink in this lusty, cordial environment is Pinot Noir.

Thing is, the image and price of Pinot Noir challenges its suitability as a party-wine. Due to the aura and romance around this Burgundian variety, as well as its reputation for making the world’s rarest and most expensive wines, Pinot Noir does not exactly spring to mind when you are looking for a case of something gluggable for a poker-night or for a few bottles of wine to drink in deep draughts around the fire after a day’s fishing.

The majority of Pinot Noir wines found on the shelves are north of R250, and when perusing said wine racks before heading home with your take-out pizza, selecting a Pinot Noir is unlikely.

Heady price-tags for the variety also make it hard for young folk venturing forth on the journey of wine discovery to get a handle on the joys of Pinot Noir. Many of the kids say they’d dig to take a bottle or two to a mate’s flat where their recent tattoo-markings will be compared, but just don’t have the “bucks” for Pinot Noir.

This is where Paul Clüver, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay specialists from Elgin, are opening up a whole new channel for Pinot Noir appreciation and enjoyment with the accessible wine under the Paul Clüver Village offering. On the estate’s upper-tier one finds the icon Seven Flags Pinot Noir, followed by the famous Estate wine, both among South Africa’s leading renditions of Pinot Noir.

With Paul Clüver’s Village Pinot Noir, the brand has created a delectable and sappy Pinot Noir featuring all the inherent flavours expected of the grape, but made to a style not requiring intense aging or a consumer’s delving into further credit. The bottle-price of around R125 makes many points in this regard.

In making the Village, Paul Clüver’s younger vineyards are used, the more senior sticks headed for Estate or Seven Flags Pinot Noir. In their youth, the grapes offer a juicy brightness and more forgiving tannins, yet have the pedigree and breeding to present structure commanding the respect one expects from this noble variety.

Aging is done for ten months in older French oak barrels as well as 5000 litre foudré, freeing the testosterone-driven tannins of youth, broadening flavour profile and giving the wine an agreeable and inviting silkiness.

The Paul Clüver Village Pinot Noir 2020 is currently on the market, and although casual “kuier” wines do not usually invite critical appraisal, I find myself in a state of open-hearted generous enthusiasm about such a lovely Pinot Noir.

Cherry notes offer a summery sweetness, upfront, before a slight bacon-kip savouriness perks the palate. A discernible Pinot Noir typicity of stony autumn cool verges on the edges, providing a dappled brightness and multi-faceted dimension to the wine. Palate-weight is akin to an owl feather, with a coaxing furriness backed by a discernible stem of pliable, yet pronounced rigour. Delicious and more-ish as it is, the wine has a hum of the imposing trumpet-call that heralds an honest Pinot Noir remaining true to its roots, secure to its calling.

Served just chilled, there’s a case in the fridge, so do come and kuier.

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