Despite having the blood of La Grande Nation coursing through my robust veins, the French can really get on my pods of pectoral muscle, commonly known as tits. Take the current form of Les Bleus in the Rugby Six Nations. Not only are they playing with the listlessness of an unbaked baguette, but their tight five – traditionally the mainstay of French rugby – appear to be sponsored by Weigh-Less and the Peace Brigade. And as far as passion goes, they apparently left their spines in the Montmartre whorehouse where their mothers worked.
Public Holiday Nation, this has been South Africa over the past few weeks. Good Friday. Bad Friday. Workers Day. Freedom Day. Election. I am just waiting for a public holiday honouring the date on which Simon van der Stel stopped beating his first slave on 7 September 1689 after said slave, Pielkopius Witman, discovered how to make the original Vin de Constance.
Sweet is, surely, no sin. So why is the South African wine industry not making a bigger noise about the irrefutable quality of our sweet wines?
The general standard of fortifieds such as Muscadel and Jerepigo is stupendous. Ditto Noble Late Harvest and Straw Wines. And Portugal’s dynamo Port family named Symington deem South Africa as the only country outside Portugal capable of crafting a decent Port-style wine.
It was a good week to be a glutton. A smiling, happy carbohydrate consuming glutton as opposed to the dour folk who so religiously follow the gospel according to Professor Tim Noakes, he of the constipation-induced grin and dial-a-quote sound-bite. The only thing Noakes likes more than a super high protein egg-yolk omelette with extra fatty bacon is feasting on the reams of newsprint that has followed him and his announcing the evils of all things carbohydrate and pleasurable whilst prophesizing the apparent health-giving properties of a diet comprising mostly of fatty, meaty, cheesy and nutty edibles.
Groot Constantia Estate remains the mother-ship of the South African wine industry, but as we all know Bigger is not always seen as Better. The fact that Groot Constantia is inundated with tourists which it accommodates with an unabashed veneer of commercialism – take the red double-decker London bus driving between carefully planted vines – makes it difficult for the uninitiated to take the wine seriously. For common-thinking has us incorrectly believing that commercialism is a curse and good wine, and I mean really good wine, can only be made on small, tidy estates unhindered by the rampant wonts of Mammon and droves of digital-savvy noodle-eaters from the East.
You know your reputation as a wine writer is sound when you leave a wedding with a free bottle sample. Okay, it was a wine industry wedding, possibly the one of the year. Groot Constantia cellarmaster Boela Gerber exchanged vows with genteel-handed physiotherapist Michaela Nevin during a wonderful summer-evening ceremony on the Estate.