Grant Dodd is a no-nonsense reformed professional golfer who now lives in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney. He looks like the wine version of MasterChefSA judge Pete Goffe-Wood and looks after the SA wine interests of Preston Haskell and was staying at Preston’s pad in Fresnaye, venue for the most exclusive New Year’s Eve party in Cape Town. Good Friday lunch was sushi (tuna and salmon sashimi, eel and soft shell crab sushi, agedashi dofu and miso soup) at Minato in Buiten Street as Grant could bring wine and lapsed Catholic habits die hard.
My first choice, Kyoto Garden in Kloof Nek Road, is not open for lunch. I had a wonderful dinner there last week with Jonathan Steyn, recently returned from an 18 month Wine Masters in Montpellier. So no treasures of the sea for me or photos either, as the memory card of my Canon G11 bought from Orms, now gives a memory error. And that was before Grant’s 20 year old white Burgundy from Roger Kebble’s cellar which was clinging to the Clifton cliff by its fingernails – distressed but far from disappointing.
Dodders had bought Rog’s cellar as his big complaint about SA wine is there is no context. Do SA wines age and how? Sometimes you get a total eye-opener – a thirty year old Meerendal Pinotage – and then there are those GS Cabernets, remarkably youthful but more sizzle than steak, we decided.
Grant has been entertaining Cape wine writers for the last couple of days and we both agreed than Allan Mullins is one of the best. So no wonder he didn’t vote in the unfortunate UCT Top 20 wineries poll – nor Jono either (probably overqualified). Grant was amazed that some of the foreign judges could even list 20 wineries and suggested voters be supplied with a ballot in future. If there is one.
Of course wineries are about much more than bottles of wine with Solms-Delta in Franschhoek arguably the most important winery in SA this millennium. Its absence from the UCT poll is yet another j’accuse for the Mail & Guardian who hosted the controversial Top 20.
Does funding the Dombeya Scholarship, worth R80K to a winemaking graduate from a previously disadvantaged background at the University of Stellenbosch, earn credits in a best winery poll? Should it? The bursary has been running for five years and entry conditions had to be changed as a couple of recipients dropped out. Let’s face it, if you’re a smart PDI science student, is winemaking really the optimal path to easy street? As Dodders remarked, “at the interviews we had one lady asking us if the person who owned the winery was married.” Full marks for honesty!
Not that Haskell Vineyards needs to wear their charity on their sleeve to get my vote. An invite to a Preston party will do (only joking). But all jokes aside, the 2007 vintage Bordeaux-style blend called IV is a Mayor Daley decider while the 2010 Anvil Chardonnay is scarily sublime at 11 hectolitres/ha. Only one more than the Queen of Burgundy Lalou Bize-Leroy got in 2010.
Great gossip about Lalou from Jancis Robinson in the Weekend FT today, but what a swizz to have to subscribe to her pricey Purple Pages to read the tasting notes. And after you’ve paid for the paper – what would Sir David Tang say? Vulgar beyond belief. I wonder if this is where her votes for the UCT Top 20 SA Wineries fiasco have been posted?