Suipie is astonished.
For anyone who didn’t read last month’s one, or quite understandably has forgotten what was in it, Suipie reminds you that he had a wine called Le Geminus. This was a white, from the Spar Olive Brook label, a Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon Blend, 2012 Vintage, with some oak in it.
Suipie was delighted at how well it had kept.
Well, Suipie has now found two more bottles of the same wine, only this time 2009. These were at the Hilton Spar. Naturally Suipie bought both, sight unseen so to speak. One has already been drunk. The pretty colour looks more like actual orange juice, and the mustiness is more pronounced, but it remains a delight to drink. Can you credit it?
If anyone takes offence at Suipie’s remark about forgetting what was in the last edition, all Suipie wants to say is that he could not remember what was in there either, and he wrote it! Something to do with failing memory, at least in Suipie’s case anyway.
At Abingdon discussing with Ian Smorthwaite Suipie’s declining ability to analyse wine: Ian looked puzzled. “You do still like the stuff, don’t you? You do still drink it?” he asked. Suipie could not deny this. “Well, what’s the problem then?” He replied. Quite right.
Suipie had forgotten the old and still best wine scoring system, from Hermann Kirschbaum of Buitenverwachting:
1 * = finish the glass
2 * = finish the bottle
3 * = how do I get the case?
Silly Suipie. Clever Hermann.
Ian’s latest Viognier Reserve, by the way, Suipie reckons is the best wine he has ever made. It is, on Hermann’s method, at least 4*, which maybe means: how do I buy the whole vintage?
Some of you may not have seen that Ian’s daughter Laurie got Young Sommelier of the year, for the whole country. Take a bow, Laurie! Suipie always loved the image of the sommelier, gravely discussing the wine, then decanting a little into the silver cup hanging from a chain around his neck, before ceremoniously serving it. Looked good, but that’s all. Silver is not the best to taste wine from.
Mention of old fashioned sommeliers, Suipie saw a tv programme on the Paris restaurant La Tour d’Argent. It claims to have been established in 1582. It owns about 450 000 bottles of wine with an estimated value of over 25 million euros, and a 400 page wine list. There is one man who basically lives in the wine cellar. He gets the wine order written on a scrap of paper delivered in a little lift, has to find the bottle, and then get it sent back up again, all as quick as you like. The lift runs smoothly and gently so the wine is not shaken, and holds the bottle snugly, on its side. How he knows his way around there to find the wine, Suipie cannot begin to imagine. How the Sommelier knows what to say about all those wines is also unfathomable.
Their signature dish is duck, at 145 euros per person. Make that over two thousand of our South African rand. If anyone out there is happy to sponsor Suipie he will gratefully accept, but they may need also to sponsor some of the wine as well!
Oddly enough, the beef fillet was 165 euros, about two and a half thousand rand. Suipie knows that fillet is not too cheap any more but for that price you can buy a whole deep freeze worth of the stuff! Suipie reckons Spur will do just fine thank you.
They tell a wonderful story of a billionaire, Mr Pierpoint Morgan, who took for himself one of the only two bottles they still had of Napoleon brandy. He left in its place a letter of apology and a blank signed cheque. The restaurant sent the cheque back.
They successfully saved most of their wines during the German occupation of Paris in World War Two by the expedient building of brick walls to conceal what was there. They concentrate on Burgundy wines (Pinot Noirs) and have some going back to the mid – 1800’s.
Perhaps there are places in Italy that can boast of huge wine collections, but if so, Suipie has never heard of this. Only in France, it seems, do they not only make wine that lasts forever but somehow also manage to keep from drinking it.
We here cannot even begin to compete. Mind you, wines from the 1960’s still pop up now and then. There are still some one or two bottles of the G S Cabernet about, for instance. This was the experimental wine made by George Spies in 1966 and 1968. He was winemaker at Monis at the time. The grapes are thought to have come from Durbanville, and the wine was made with long-term maturation in mind.
And did that work! Jancis Robinson tasted one in 2015 and said not only was it better than most 1966 Bordeaux, she gave it 20:20. This means it quite likely has been the only “perfect” wine this country has produced.
Cost? Work on R 20 000 per bottle. Maybe La Tour d’ Argent is not so bad after all!
One thing Suipie wrote about last time and did not forget was Tesselaarsdal. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that Suipie ordered has been delivered. It is difficult to try to describe wine that is so good. The Chardonnay has a clean taste that can almost be called perfection. Suipie does not have the words, maybe it’s like a fine Chablis from Burgundy but without that steely or flintiness that they can sometimes have. In this country you often find examples of that in wines from Agulhas. This Chardonnay has lovely soft acid with gentle citrus fruit and the oak aging is very subtle and just enough to give it backbone. The Pinot Noir is equally fine. Pinot will always be Suipie’s favourite, and in this one perhaps one of the best of the best.
How do you give 5 Stars when you only have 3 available? Suipie does not know but both of them get the full 5.
Berene Sauls winemaker says that her wines are named after her home village in the Overberg. That, for those who do not know, is the part of the Cape after you have climbed Sir Lowry’s Pass just after Somerset West and got to the other side of the mountain, as the name says.
Her splendid label shows the actual mountain range, trees and old buildings. You can see two figures walking over the mountain. These are her mother and grandmother. They would walk for an hour each Sunday to Stanford, which is the nearest town, to trade the goats that her grandmother used to farm. Brilliant.
All round, a very good story.
Greg/ Sherwood, a London based South African Wine Master described Berene’s Pinot Noir as the next South African icon for that varietal. Suipie is nowhere close to Mr Sherwood as far as anything to do with wine goes, but for what it may be worth will only say: ek stem saam! Suipie thinks that on this basis, Berene is not just an up and coming winemaker, she has already arrived.