Les and Mike take the High Road

Neil Pendock April 9, 2014 0

The most recent disaster in Bordeaux masquerading as a vintage is an unbeatable opportunity for producers of SA style Bordeaux blends at the top end. Like Les Sweidan (below) and Mike Church, two partners responsible for the High Road, as good as it gets when it comes to a Stellenbosch interpretation of a Cabernet-dominated blend of Merlot, Franc and Petit Verdot. Which, until Wellington come on stream and displace the tomato-based interpretation of Cab with one redolent of blueberries, is as good as SA gets. And far better than the thin and weedy embarrassments the Medoc is offering in the shape of a deeply unconvincing 2013 en primeur campaign. A vintage so bad, worms in the UK wine writing establishment are starting to turn.

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Yesterday Magica Roma played host to a splendid lunch of spaghetti and meat balls, Parmesan chunks redolent of umami and rare strips of steak – not braaied, so no WOSA-style colon cancer scares here – and succulent fish for Christine Rudman and Melvyn Minnaar, just two of the Cape cognoscenti assembled for the occasion. This was no saggy tracksuit bottom affair. Heck four of the six Tops at Spar Fundis were in attendance. Can a Tops listing be delayed much longer?

Four vintages of the Director’s Reserve – a ready as mustard 2008, sublime 2009, intense 2010 and the best of all, a classy 2011 – were the stars of the afternoon and Les and Mike need to take them to Bordeaux where the Springboks have already cleared a path to the doors of the leading restaurants. They’re simply too good to hide under a bushel.

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Take them to temples of gastronomy like Michelin starred Le Chapon Fin (above) that will soon have little to serve if they rely on Bordeaux alone to populate the wine list. Stellenbosch has surely enough contacts in Bordeaux – Alain Moueix, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, Hubert de Boüard, Pierre Lurton – to secure some listings. How cool would that be, to have French people ventilating on SA wine rather than the tired old Anglo Saxon and Celtic worms hired by WOSA to perform at Prowein.

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