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Suipie mentioned Ridgeback last month.

They have always been very special to Suipie.  Not quite sure why, exactly.  obviously the wine itself has always been great (it for sure still is), but maybe there was something unpretentious and unassuming about the product, perhaps the label with the dog on it?  Never underestimate the power of the label!

You all know Suipie loves dogs, right?  Anyway, Suipie had never been to the Estate and when the whole gang had to make their way to Wellington last year for a wedding almost everyone agreed that the trip had to go via Ridgeback.  The naysayer was Suipie’s daughter-in-law who was Expecting and thus unhappy about not being able to join in the tasting.  Suipie has dealt with that, but more later.

The Estate is kinda what you would expect.  Smart but down-to-earth.  None of the glitz and glamour of some others, that may think they are more fashionable.  It’s found in what might be called a slightly unfashionable part of the Cape, in the Paarl region.

They have a very nice restaurant and comfortable classy food without being over the top. It was all just up Suipie’s street.

The wines were better than just fantastic though.  Their Cabernet Franc is, in Suipie’s view, the best of that varietal he can remember tasting.  Their whites are superb, all in all simply brilliant. 

The star of the show however was a Methode Champenoise, made from Viognier.  They said it was the only one in the world, and for sure Suipie had never heard of that grape being used to make a Sparkler before.

They had 12 bottles left.  They allowed Suipie to have three, one with lunch and the others for New Year.  It is a fruit bomb of a wine, with everything you would want in an M.C.C.  You got delicious viognier brightness, but dry, dry, and lovely restrained bubbles.

A privilege to have been able to buy some and to drink it.

Daughter-in-law allowed herself a glass, and another one over New Year.  As for the rest, Suipie brought a good number of bottles with the undertaking that none of them would be drunk unless she was able and willing to join in, and that is still the deal, now that the bairn has safely arrived.  It’s become the old conundrum:  The stuff is so good already is it worth keeping to see if it gets better?  At the Estate they said you should, and no doubt that is correct, but is it wise to take the risk?  Life is short.  You should not take tomorrow for granted.  The sky may fall, as Chief Vitalstatistix is so fond of saying.  And yes, Suipie still thinks Asterix is funny.

Ridgeback.  You don’t often see it up here much these days but if you do, just get some.  It’s seriously worth it.

Now you would be forgiven for thinking Suipie is nothing more than an aging wino.  Well, in truth, that is pretty accurate, but there is more to it than that.  Suipie loves cooking, by which he means not only braaing but actual making of food using things like pots, pans and stoves, and cutting things up.  Quite often himself, but that is another story.

In saying this, of course the old saying is true:  Suipie loves wine when cooking and sometimes even adds it to the food.  But the style is robust, long cooking, none of your fancy nouvelle food for Suipie.  Beat a long slow oxtail in dark beer!

Suipie discovered a cook book by Tony Jackman called foodSTUFF.  It’s as much the story of Mr Jackman’s life as it is about recipes, but both are great.  A whole lot is taken up with his wandering about the Karoo, something that Suipie has yet to do properly.  That one is on Suipie’s Bucket List and highlighted.  Suipie will never forget a wonderful evening in a garden of a B & B in Murraysburg with Suipie Junior and a bottle of Whalepod, the one with something unusual in it, like Tannat, which got 5 stars and deserved every single one of them.  Peace, cool Karoo evening, stars shining in the sky and out of the bottle, life was as good as it gets.

So one day and not too far away Suipie will take some time to wander slowly around places like that.  But back to Mr Jackman.  His recipes are not new, nor are they difficult, but they are good.  The story of his life is inspiring.  He is a man who enjoys the things that make us happy.  Not wealth or fame, nice though they are, but lamb chops on a braai in the cool desert evening and some red wine to hand. 

That is the sort of thing Suipie thinks about when he (and daughter-in-law) drink some Ridgeback.  A luxury wine that isn’t dressed up like a Hollywood star but instead something real and meaningful.

It’s what wine is truly all about.