A recent visit by a delegation of MBA students from California had me thinking that our wine scene has an edge on the American industry. In one voice the Americans told me that back home– the world’s leading wine consuming nation – red blended wines were now becoming the big thing, with producers from sea to shining sea beginning to experiment with blends.
Nestled in the heart of the Douro Valley, the village of Pinhão was being drenched by sheets of icy rain riding into northern Portugal on a brutal cold wind from west Spain. It was all grey and misty and chill, but not even the sight of a ugly horde of red-shirted EFF water-bottle throwers or the sound of a whining Donald Trump speech would have rendered the Douro anything but magnificently beautiful. It truly is God’s wine country, the vines clinging to the 40 degree slopes, all granite and schist reaching to the heavens and stopping at about 1000m above the river.
With nothing eventful in sight for the rest of the year, herewith some of my highlights.
On the local front I am going Grenache, and I am going Neil Ellis 2011. Made from old vines on the Piekenierskoof, this is the kind of wine that will urge an Iranian camel-jockey to start drinking. Garnet in colour, brooding tones of fennel and soil, the wine dances a fruit-laced medley comprising berries, quince and ripe fig. Everything is fresh as a showered pom-pom girl and the palate-weight is graceful, while the wine’s length lasts longer than a Julius Malema court appearance.
Well-known Afrikaans novelist and journalist Jaco Kirsten recently launched a runaway success of a website, meneer.tv, which reports on bar-fighting skills, hot chicks and hang-over cures, as well as a number of less profound topics. According to Jaco, also a magazine editor and media expert, internet posts in the form of naming a “list of” attracts three times more “hits” than chunks of dense prose.
One of the signs that the world is becoming a place for pussies is the downward spiral in global Port consumption. The alcoholic power of this magnificent wine style, as well as its delectable and uncompromising sweetness, has fallen out of favour in a wine world obsessed with purporting to drink stuff of restrained elegance and linearity. A hefty 18% per volume sugar-induced kick appears too much to handle for sensitive modern souls, and the inky blackness might just stain those freshly capped teeth.
So far, it has been a good year for Port drinking. And if things continue in this vein, my Douro resident permit should surely be in the mail. What’s more, since committing to dropping two bottles orfPort a week three months ago, my GP reckons I am in far better shape than ever. Blood pressure is temperate. The pulse is as calm and regular enough to manage a Formula One pit stop. And a painful stabbing check produced the verdict of my liver being is as unblemished and pure as a nun’s thigh.
Sometimes, just sometimes, it is okay for a man to cry. I’ll never forget how hard it was to hold back the tears upon hearing that my first born Dachshund, Grimelda von Zimmerschatz, had given birth to a litter of six. Or the teary feeling of pride on that crisp Namibian morning when I felled my first kudu cow with one shot to the head.