Type “Erfurt” into Google and the medieval capital of Thuringia and home to some of the best sausages in the world has been eclipsed by the school massacre in April 2002 in which 16 people died at the town’s Johann Gutenberg Gymnasium. A massacre that itself was eclipsed on Wednesday by another at Winnenden in which another 16 perished. Erfurt was on my mind as last night as I was speaking at the Erfurthuis in Stellenbosch as part of a double act with Emile Joubert at Woordfees 2009 “lag-lag 10 jaar” as it says on the program.
Erfurthuis (above) is so named as it was built in the 1880s by an immigrant from Erfurt although it looks more like a Southern plantation house to me. In fact it looks a bit like Hazeldene Hall in Parktown, which was the venue for one of Johannesburg’s first wine bars, Rakes, of fond memory.
So it was quite appropriate that Emile and I were talking about the trials and tribulations of the SA wine scene in a double act reprised from the launch of Sour Grapes on Guy Fawkes’ Day last year.
We were competing against a snoek braai on Kanonkop so were fortunate to attract a semi-decent sized crowd. The real joy was that they were mostly ordinary folk. Like the lady who brought along a copy of Sour Grapes for me to sign. A receptionist for a local dentist who has a sideline in wine, she confirmed that her boss’s tipple is rated four stars in a famous sighted wine guide while the same stuff he bottles for his friend under another label struggles along at two.
Something for the pundits of that hallowed publication to pontificate over at their Open Discussion Forum at the Lord Charles Hotel on April 16th. Alas, the dentist’s receptionist has to work, as do I, but let’s hope the message gets through. For as it says on the Braille sticker I’m designing for Lemoenfontein wines, “wine tasted blind is honest wine.”