It’s just as well that Pinot Noir is “not a wine for the masses” as Paul Cluver IV noted at the launch lunch of the second vintage (2007) of his Seven Flags yesterday. ‘Cos he has only 240 dozen and Alan Pick (of Butcher’s Shop & Grill fame) bought 10. Not bad for a man who used to claim that the main advantage of the cultivar is that you can’t tell if the bottle is corked or not.
But then Alan is going through more changes than St. Paul on a round-the-world ticket, with Eben Sadie his new favourite winemaker. He’s even making the pilgrimage out to Priorat to track Eben down to his terroir. Strange bedfellows perhaps, but then as Al says “Eben has a genius for making wine. I have a genius for making money.”
The 240 dozen won’t hang around for long. Heck even I bought one and wooden boxes full of the stuff were being hurried away to fill the boots of the winepress convoy that had to rush back to Cape Town for starring roles in Simulation Weekend at Sol Kerzner’s One&Only resort at the Waterfront. I didn’t know it, but a luxury hotel gets test-driven by a posse of freeloaders to iron out any creases in the carpet and plug any leaks in the suites. And who better than a local wine writer to put luxury to the test when it’s on the house? Tim Atkin?
While stock was being surreptitiously siphoned off, IV continued “Pinot is about balance and sophistication. It’s about reserve and knowing you’re fantastic without having to prove yourself.” Either he’s found the Pool of Narcissus on the farm (De Rust is certainly big enough), he believes his own PR or he was reinforcing the point made by his dad (PC III) that there’s a lot of bullshit around in the wine industry. But thankfully none in the glass from which the concept “purity of fruit” leaps fully formed into your nostrils as your sniff the first of many.
The colour is translucent ruby like something Edith Sitwell would have had reduced and mounted in a ring. You could read the extensive Extreem Kwizeen menu through a glass if you’d left your Clicks specs in the SUV, as one amateur Porn Star at our table had. PS had just arrived from the One&Only (“we were waken up at 8am by jackhammers”) after a trade night on the tiles and noted “it was great. The beds are so high, when you sit on the edge, your feet still wriggle around.”)
Not to imply that the palate lacked focus. In fact it was intensely fruity without being obviously so. Some called it “understated” but I found it the opposite: exuberant, explosive, an extravagant exaltation – and that’s only the e’s. But the highlight for me was the envoi, to stick with the fifth letter of the alphabet. A letter the surrealist Georges Perec hated so much, he left it out of his novel La Disparation. Talk about a peacock’s tail: flavours fanning out with yellow dots like gooseberries, gray flashes of flint, red stripes of sour cherry.
With less obvious spicy tannins than a Walker Bay Pinot, you may conclude that the aromatics are better than the structure. But it could also be a choice of physiques: Keanu Reeves or Matt Damon and anyway, Matt’s yacht was moored in the Cape Grace Marina packed full of simulation stars, dangling their tiny feet off the edge of the towering, overstuffed beds while Seven Flags is more a delicate divan, a duchess brisée or a classy chaise longue.