With this year’s Platter’s 4½ and 5 star wines sailing through an external examination by Jancis Robinson in the Financial Times on the weekend, its high fives all round for the Platter pundits. Of course of JR’s five top scoring wines: the Oak Valley Chardonnay 2006, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2006, Thelema Mint Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 , Buitenverwachting Christine 2003 and Vergelegen White Blend 2006, rated 4×17.5 and 18 out of 20 respectively by JR, only the Vergelegen got five stars in the guide. But hey, as Platter’s editor Philip van Zyl keeps telling me, its time to stop running a vendetta against the guide and MOVE ON. Which I’ve decided to do. So no more JR on a Platter for me, it’s to the Spectator I shall turn for wine recommendations. The Speccie is required reading for the British upper-middle classes, and as such is a powerful platform for SA tourism and wine sales. In a recent Speccie travel column, Tim Walker handed out an expected bouquet and an unexpected brickbat.
“The journey from Cape Town to Franschhoek in the heart of the winelands was breathtaking. There I checked into the Mont Rochelle, a smart little watering hole for foodies. A raucous wedding party on the first night spoilt the ambience of the hotel’s restaurant. The next day I lunched locally at La Petite Ferme and then dined at Reubens. The former was sensational, the latter a bit of a disappointment.
From Franschhoek, it was on to Birkenhead House in Hermanus, a boutique hotel beside Walker Bay, run with great charm by Shane Brummer, formerly of the Avenue in St James’s. I took a tour of the nearby Hamilton Russell Vineyards and was wined and dined by its charismatic and PR-minded proprietor, Anthony Hamilton Russell, who told me he had entertained just about every journalist I could think of from the past century but almost every one of them had died in recent years. I doubt the wine was to blame.”
Sticking with my new travel theme, the reason for the popularity of New Zealand wine in Blighty was revealed. In a review of Duncan Fallowell’s antipodean travelogue Going As Far As I Can, Anthony Sattin concludes:
“This isn’t a book for everyone. Some will find his diary-entry style too self-indulgent. Others will be put off by his sexual preferences, for this is also an account of a search for like-minded men, eventually found through escort listings and in the basements of gay sex shops as well as in bookshops and wineries. But beyond the pricks and the petulance lies a meditation on how it feels to go to the ends of the earth and an unapologetic account of the life he found there.”
Cottaging in wineries – does Wine Capitals of the World, the wine tourism quango have a special section for sex in wineries, I wonder? Wines of SA, the exporters association, should send Andre Morgenthal to investigate, tout suite.