It was 9 minutes past 9pm on the 29th of September 1969 and Nicky Krone was preparing for bed on Twee Jonge Gezellen estate in Tulbagh, when all hell broke loose in the original three room clay brick homestead built by the famous pair of bachelors in 1710. When you start work at 4:30am, you’re pooped by 9 but thoughts of sleep disappeared when the floor started heaving like a doberman with distemper.
Nicky jumped out the window and watched huge boulders crash down the mountain in torrents of sparks while a blue flash ran down the rocks from one end of the valley to the other. For the Tulbagh valley sits on the Worcester fault which had given a 6.9 magnitude shrug. Nicky thought the Russians had nuked Cape Town and fried his fiancée, Mary. “I never bet on the number 9” says Nicky.
Sleeping in the 1714 homestead on Montpellier de Tulbagh (above) early this morning and dreaming of Irma Stern, round as a ball, falling out of bed when she’d had to much to drink and calling the neighbours to get her back in the sack, the mountain gave another twitch and I watched the ancient beams above my bed shiver in quiet terror.
For Tulbagh terroir is alive with electricity. The microvolts are quite tasteable in Nicky’s award winning bubblies (the oldest ones are as thrilling as touching the business end of a battery with your tongue) and now in a tense and taut 2010 Pinotage called Spencer from Lemberg, an estate that has taken off like a Hadada Ibis. Which is the closest Tulbagh comes to a Phoenix.
Spencer was a bulldog owned by Stellenbosch ships doctor Henk du Bruyn and two of his kind mug you with love if you visit the art gallery cum tasting room on Lemberg. “We don’t want to emphasise the canine connection” says marketing whizz Colyn Truter (above) “as people might think we’re copying Beyers Truter (no relation) and Diesel.” But there’s no chance of that as Spencer is half the price of Diesel and winemaker David Sadie (below) (no relation to Eben) has crafted a bulldog of a wine – impressive at first sight but dissolving into rolls of fruit fat before rolling you over and tickling your stomach. The wine reminds of that other Spencer, Diana the Princess and of course Winston Spencer Churchill (no relation, either).
A desiccated 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, made with old pliers applied to bunch stems as pioneered on Solms Delta in Franschhoek, it is an incredibly complex sticky that will be released in March. Just the kind of thing to drink in het land van waveren while you wait for the big one.