Late-night post-Platter thoughts

By the time I got home from the launch of the latest Platter guide this evening, the first PR email had arrived announcing a triumph. Quite a triumph it was, too, for Nederburg as Winery of the Year, with five five-star winners – coincidentally and happily just in time to celebrate a decade of Razvan Macici’s presence there as presiding genius. (See the full results here.)

Half an hour later came the announcement from Hermanuspietersfontein about Die Bartho deservedly getting five stars. We’ve scarcely got over all the excited announcements of producers about the gold medals they won at Veritas – I’m sure there were more than ever such emails this year (I have long since ruthlessly deleted all messages unread if they mention “Veritas” or “Michelangelo” in the subject-line, now I do the same to those speaking of “gold”).

These are good times for the gushing PR folk, probably exactly because they’re bad times for the producers – it’s presumably worth paying the hefty fees charged by PR consultants on the off-chance that an interested journalist will pay attention, or a lazy and more-or-less corrupt publication will have a hole in its page that can be nicely filled by the PR copy.

The latter is something like first prize, a PR cheerfully told me the other day over a PR launch-lunch. She also mentioned with a mixture of distaste and gratitude just how common it is for magazines and newspapers, cutting back on journalists as they are, to make unashamed use of copy written by the PR hacks – and often presenting it as their own. I have a depressing feeling that many such people – on both sides of this questionable interchange – spend quite a bit of time at their expense-account lunches complaining to each other, or to tax-evaders or red-light-runners, perhaps, of the corruption and crime so prevalent in our sad society….

The Platter launch was a pleasant enough affair. (And a useful one for the filers of Twitter stuff, as the picture alongside shows.) Held at Mangiare restaurant on the emerging Capelands housing estate (I think that’s right) near Somerset West, just beyond Waterkloof estate. Getting there from Cape Town in the late afternoon rush-hour proved a little easier than I’d grumpily expected.

Foodie veterans of Platter launches had been quite pleased, in fact, by the prospect of moving from the usual venue at the Devon Valley Hotel, not so much because last year the nasty weather had crammed everybody into a tiny space indoors, but because the food at Devon Valley was something less than exquisite.

But come back Devon Valley, I say! At least there was food. All Mangiare could produce was a few – very few – plates of things with spoons of this and forks of that, and another plate of mushy protein on toast. Exquisite enough, perhaps, but remarkably stingy. Whether the stinginess was Mangiare’s or Platter’s, I can’t say, but it had me rushing home, muttering like a threatening Martian in a science-fiction film: “I need nershment!” Incidentally, Giorgio Nava of 95 Keerom Street, that very good Italian restaurant in Cape Town, told me recently that he’d eaten at Mangiare, and liked it very much – which. coming from the super-critical Giorgio, is praise indeed. And Cape Town’s great wine impresario, Joerg Pfuetzner, is loud in praise of at least the imported part of the winelist.

But the real point of the Platter launch is, after all, to taste the wines and to have a chat with all the eminent producers there (and to learn WHY they’re there, in detail), and some of the eminent and less-eminent others invited. One of the eminent ones was British swallow Remington Norman, out here for the summer, who seemed only mildly surprised and irritated when someone told him that one of the more egregious bloggers had portentously claimed that a blight (or was it a pall?) had descended on the Platter launch because Remington had made some remarks doubting that all South African wine judges were up to the job. Why the casual remark of one smart Brit should be expected to have such a momentous effect, I’m not sure, nor was Remington, but he guessed he’d been misquoted, and thought that this too would pass….

Incidentally, Remington told me how impressed with South African wine had been Jean-Charles de la Morinière, proprietor of the Burgundian domaine Bonneau du Martray, out here to appear at a Chardonnay happening in Robertson last week. He’d thought some of the chardonnays excellent and, dining with Remington the next day, he’d been further impressed with local wine. The Normans had served him with a Kaapzicht Riesling 1992 which was apparently still in excellent nick, Kanonkop Paul Sauer 1995 and Sadie Family Columella 2006.

None of which, by the way, had scored five stars in Platter in their respective years….

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