It was only near the bottom of my bottle of Intellego Chenin Blanc 2011 that I fully realised how much I had been – how much I still was – enjoying it.
You’d think there’d been sufficient happy hint of that when I’d come to the end of my dinner (nice enough, built around cold chicken: every few weeks I buy a supermarket-grilled chicken to sprinkle bits over my dogs’ no-doubt-cancerously preservative-packed dry cubes; for the dogs, but I generally get at least a meal or two and a few delicious snacks out of the poor bird).
My point is that I was officially at the point of moving on to something like biscotti or chocolate and brandy, but I was mysteriously reluctant to abandon Jurgen Gouws’s nicely developed Swartland chenin, so I hauled out some cheese as an excuse to carry on.
I’d also just properly noticed that its moderately deep straw colour was pleasantly cloudy – far from the brilliance that would have earned the three points (out of 20) that the Cape Wine Academy (God – well over two decades back!) had assured me was the way to earn a full complement. Losing a concern with the correctness of colour or clarity has been one of the many happy liberations of growing old(er). Me growing older, that is, not the bloody wine.)
I’d started off the evening with a few doubts. Actually, in the first place, not with Intellego Chenin Blanc 2011, but with Newton Johnson Walker Bay Pinot Noir 2012 . I’d opened and started on the latter last night, and pretty well enjoyed it, but it was seeming a bit simple and turgid this evening. A year ago I’d hugely welcomed it as a good bargain pinot (if there are greater admirers of Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson’s brilliant work than I am, I am yet to meet them) and so it was, but I don’t think this blend of younger-vine fruit and second-best barrels is intended for much maturation. It’s best in the first flush of youth.
But a doubt or two about the Intellego too, while I finished preparing my modest repast. Only slight doubts. While I enjoyed the obvious oxidative element, was its rich complexity at the expense of a little freshness?
An hour later (now), when the photo was taken of the bottle and its dregs (NB the wine is nowhere near as dull and dark as it looks on my screen), such doubts didn’t trouble me. Oxidative qualities were less, complexity and rich sensual pleasure predominated – not exclusively; with Jurgen’s wines there’s always an intellectual, conscious element involved, but that’s true of much marvellous sensuality. It’s not great wine, perhaps (not much is), but if I never have a lesser one to go with my chicken or cheese, I will count myself supremely fortunate.
Time to move on, with the lingering regret that always makes moving on, even at its best, such a bitter-sweet moment. That’s life for you.