The evening struggle

Round one tonight was a disaster. A walkover. A very nice new chardonnay from Mont Blois (of which more shortly but not today) had provided a few delightful preprandial sips. I thought it might survive a forkful or two of my spicy venison stew (kudu, if you must know – I prefer calling it venison, which sounds so much more neutral to a would-be-vegetarian wimp than the name of a magnificent but dead buck with curly horns). But no, let me leave it as saying that the chard didn’t do well at all.

But I am practised in these things, and had anticipated as much by deciding that this might be a good occasion to throw Solms-Delta Africana 2011 into the fray. This syrah from desiccated fruit, like an amarone, I confidently expected to deftly deal with the venison. And vice versa. I had, of course, had a gingerly sip or two on opening it – and shudderingly marvelled at its rich, sweet-finishing, full-fruited power. It was impossible to sip solo with any real satisfaction, I found – but indeed, with the stew (which was very good and I think I should probably flatter it by calling it a goulash or Koudou en Daube or something) the Africana was very satisfactory. More than satisfactory. I happily had a few glasses. Whether or not I actually burped happily at the conclusion of the plateful and glassful I don’t know, but I might well have.

But don’t doubt that Africana merited a redoubtable opponent. When I greedily, even groaningly, moved on to some cheese, even the Fairview (also Woolworths) De Leeuwen immediately surrendered to the Africana and whiningly suggested something less massively powerful. (And this was a pretty mature example of the marvellous De Leeuwen, with a splendidly gorgonzolaesque stinky exuberance to it).

So what to do? I couldn’t give up, as I still felt the urge for a bit of alcohol. Well, there was no question of throwing chardonnay back into the fray, but some Mont Blois Muscadel was open (again – I’m prematurely mentioning these Mont Blois wines; they must wait a day or two for a fuller discussion). I didn’t have entire confidence. This is definitely a comparatively elegant style of muscadel (a style of wine I have mixed feelings about), but could it be what I wanted with cheese? The idea of the sublime marriage of port and stilton hovered teasingly. A southern African parallel – Mont Blois Muscadel and De Leeuwen stinky stuff and mature local cheddar? It worked pretty marvellously, I’m happy to report. I’ve consumed more calories than desirable, but doing so late in the evening, when already a bit pissed, is easy, and I’ll deal with the guilt tomorrow.

You will understand that this has all been a rather exhausting struggle. I must stop now. I need a drink.

Sherry should be able to deal with all those powerful echoes. The last offering of a magnificent magnum (!) of Equipo Navazos La Bota de Amontillado 69 is to hand. I resign myself to its sublimely powerful mercies. Buenas noches!

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