I did not plan to celebrate Barack Obama’s victory with a picnic, but, Peter Falke and co. proved that “yes we can” with a very chic garden party (no blankets and baskets) on his wine farm in Stellenbosch.
The occasion was the opening of the winery’s tasting facilities and launch of the farm’s own wines: the PF and Signature ranges.
I arrive at the event with my GMF who, even though plagued with flu, refused to miss out on an opportunity to serve as my acting date. We are immediately provided with a glass of wine from the PF range, the crisp Sauvignon Blanc 2007, and this allows us to completely shake-off our work mode. It is time to relax.
Wicker couches have been carried out onto the lawn that overlooks the vines with a bright pink bougainvillea serving as a natural backdrop. We get into the vibe by chilling in one of these couches from where we observe the crowd. “That winemaker [Tertius Naud] is just so sexy,” GMF sniffles. His wine is not bad either. The Signature Sauvignon Blanc 2007 impressed me with its refreshing lime and summer fruit aromas – although I do find it a bit overpriced at R100 a bottle ex-cellar. Flu-ridden GMF makes the PF Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (R75) his wine of the night, even though he can hardly taste or smell anything.
Peter joins us in our “observer’s corner” and during conversation he mentions his involvement in the fashion business (it takes us half the night to figure out that this business is the German Falke sock and apparel company – ob-vious-ly). Our corner quickly becomes abuzz with people, with Peter’s enthralling French wife Danile Grtz and “sexy” Tertius joining the conversation. I exercise some bad flirting tactics while we drink copious amounts of the Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (also a bit pricey at R200 a bottle). It is quite late when we realise that we are the last invitees left.
We depart with a vow to return for obvious reasons.
The venue was the Light Box Studio in Green Point, situated on the 7th floor of the Hill House building. I’ve never heard of it before and since the directions weren’t very clear it took some skilful driving (I was wearing stilettos) on the cobbled inclines of Beulah-land to find it.
My German date was quite relaxed though, rolling down his window to ask directions from car guards who came running as if we wanted to buy “pharmaceuticals”. They did not know either
We eventually managed to locate the building by following a car whose occupants were dressed according to the “black tie” requirements. After inquiring whether we are indeed at the right venue we are elevatored up to the Light Box Studio where we are greeted by a marvellous, pseudo-retro setting of disco balls, a red carpet and marquee tent.
Unfortunately for my stiletto-clad feet the drinks are served on the deck, and on more than one occasion my heels sink away between the wooden planks causing me to stumblingly grab onto my date “A night with a thousand glasses” quickly turns into “a night with a thousand glances”. So I blush and snatch another glass of Desiderius. Luckily dinner is served inside.
The interior also has a retro feel to it and together with German date I speculate what would best decorate my flat. He does not like the elaborate candle holders, the mirror placemats, or the musicians wearing sequins. If anything he will take one of the many orchids that adorn the tables and that waiter, he points. Talk about queer eye for the straight guy.
But tonight is about the wines we are reminded as 10 wines from the Cape Legends portfolio will be paired with 10 delectable dishes. As with a previous Cape Legends function the Le Bonheur Prima ’05 – a Merlot (75%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) blend – makes an impression (see Spoilt to the Core 22 September). I score this my “wow” wine of the night.
It’s back to the deck for after dinner drinks, Uitkyk’s 10 Year Grande Reserve Brandy is in our glasses as we enjoy the beautiful view of Cape Town’s city lights.
After some more chit-chat we call it a night – but not before stuffing our mouths with chocolate truffles, and one last stumble.
Since starting at WINE magazine I’ve been glad to notice that there are people, some in the industry and some on the fringes, who have a huge problem with the “pretentious snobs” who make it their mission to deny the pleasure of wine drinking with conceited views, reviews, rants and raves.
These individuals – the supposed “cognoscenti” – can be identified by their posturing and their speech. Look out for words like “splendiferous” and “superexcellent” and waffle, lots of waffle.
I don’t have a problem with drinkers who are opinionated – the industry, after all, requires constructive criticism in order to advance. My problem pertains to the fact that these nobs have succeeded, in many ways, to make snobbery the face of wine. In an article published on associatedcontent.com, one Gary Picariello highlights research relating to the young adult market and wine, in one study the focus group of the age group 20-25 said that they are deterred from drinking wine due to many factors, including “an [industry] image that many young professionals consider ‘stuffy'”. Another study point out that this age group is eager to learn.
Being in my early twenties myself, I can underscore these findings. While the wine world is intriguing, it is all too often guarded by grumpy highbrows. It is ironic that the old guard bemoan the lack of wine knowledge when confronted by a group of 20-plussers but where do you go when you want to learn?
In my circle of friends we rarely venture into an in-depth conversation about wine – heaven forbid serious analysis.
And it’s ok.
Recently I’ve started to host informal wine tastings with my friends. These often start off serious but then quickly develop into crazily loud evenings. It is a lot of fun, and quite often there are some seriously good wines on the tasting menu. Whilst connoisseurs would have advised some aging, we say why spare that Pinot when today is a beautiful day?
Are we wine idiots? Do we not fully appreciate our wines? Hardly. This is the unconventional way of learning, without pretence and exclusivity. If this is not your scene, there is ample of wine literature that probably is. To you I’ll merely raise my glass. Or finger