Real estate and names

Now living in a wine growing part of the Walker Bay, there are moves afoot to splinter this region into smaller wards. The Hemel en Aarde Valley, home to illustrious wineries like Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson, have petitioned and tramped on a few toes to demarcate their valley as a separate ward. Meanwhile, where I stay, the Bot River Valley, there are ideas to form a ward for this area. In the meanwhile, it strikes me, the best known (if any can be considered well known) is Walker Bay – so why not trade on that? Any comments from those not immediately in the wine scene? Which of the names have currency?

BYO at restaurants

I am a fan of BYO. Restaurateurs don’t like it because they make exorbitant mark-ups on wine and booze in general. But the truth is that it is only in cities that are close to wine regions that this is even considered normal. So perhaps we should think of it as a privilege? How much are you willing to pay for this privilege? I say R25 is fine, even R30 – that way everyone should be happy. The restaurant is paying for its “washing” and “stemware” costs (even though places that bleat tend not to have decent glasses, never mind a useful wine list). A place that is not obviously using wine as an easy cash-cow will more often encourage me to order from the list too… It always sparks debate, like this conversation on Vinography.

Green wines?

Jamie Goode has written about “greenness” in South African wines recently. This is a perceived quality that was often used by international commentators to describe unripe harvesting of grapes, resulting in wines that were not “optimally” ripe in flavour and structure. There may an obvious reason for this, in that the vines in question were often virus-infected (as his blog describes) and the grapes never ripen properly, hence a “green” or under-ripe tinge to them. But the scientists are still working on it all and in the meanwhile the danger is that we have pushed for “optimal ripeness” and over-reached ourselves with over-ripe, very alcoholic wines. Goode does not like the greenness and describes it as a fault – and if it’s due to virus it is a problem. But perhaps there are other roots to a “vegetative” flavour, and the term is hard for the average taster to relate to… This is just the beginning to this debate, I am being general – any debaters?

Slowines launched

[A HandtoMouth project]
In this fast-paced world we live in, it’s good to have a reminder that fast is not always better – in fact it can be just the opposite. Slowine is a new range of happily affordable wines that invite you to enjoy some quality time with friends and family. As the logo says: “time becomes precious when life rushes by” – and this wine is an invitation to stop and take some time out with these delightful, easy-drinking wines. Continue reading “Slowines launched”

Is terroir the truth?

Two words currently very popular in local wine circles are “passion” and “terroir”. Every producer seems to have a high class of both. Through repetition and careless use, the words have reached the point where they are in danger of meaning very little. While a quarrel over passion and the surplus of it that many winemakers claim to have would be a truly subjective and rather sterile one (though one surely wishes they all had as much knowledge as passion), the facile use of the term terroir is more important, as it degrades a potentially valuable concept in wine. Continue reading “Is terroir the truth?”

Cardinal rules of wine

Chill your wine – and also cool your reds in summer. Here in South Africa, you may have noticed that we do not live in the temperate climes, or have the “room temperature” of Europe. Room temperature here is too often close to blood temperature. Wine should be enjoyed cool: whites well chilled, bubbly frigid and reds should slide into the mouth refreshingly.

Don’t show people the label on the bottle if you can help it – avoid snobbery and promote the idea of enjoyment. We all do it, some bottles come out when the right people are around the table, the wine presented more as a talking/bragging point than as something to be simply drunk. When a wine is truly good, it will stand out and surprise people – isn’t this better than the reassuring preconceptions? Continue reading “Cardinal rules of wine”

A good food and wine match is a 1 + 1 = 3 relationship

When a wine matches a dish in an interesting fashion, the relationship is at once complementary in the sense that it suits, that neither partner is worse off, but more, that the match is harmonious. This is a 1 + 1 = 2. Yet even more happens when the match is right, because the wine adds a level to the food and the food adds a dimension to the wine that seems to not have been there before. It was, but the food “unlocks” it. The chemistry is beyond my reckoning, involving the food, the wine and your taste buds; but a good match shows up previously hidden dimensions to both partners that confound mathematics!