I was going to write something serious, if not significant, about the CWG Auction, but instead got rather drunk with (in the latter stages) some rather delicious stuff from Blaauwklippen, which is the state in which I am now. Usually it helps a bit with my lucidity and what passes for my thought processes, and even with my typing, so let’s hope.
I confess I’d already had with my dinner (prawns with pasta, essentially) and the preparation thereof what we might modestly call “a glass” of Badenhorst Family Wines Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2011 and another glass (or so) of Kloof Street Rouge 2009 from Mullineux Family Wines (they’re into families in a quite a big way in the Swartland, as you see – Sadie Family Wines started the trend). Good, moderately priced wines that I’m using to persuade myself that I can, perhaps, cut down a bit on my enormous wine bill.
Then, feeling a bit of a need for sweeter self-indulgence, I decided to broach the bottle of Blaauwklippen B&A (Before and After), about which I knew nothing other than it calls itself on the back label an aperitif (without the accent on the e, which is fine by me), and allows one to drink it before or after dinner, neat or “as an ingredient in cocktails” – even though an aperitif is usually an appetite-stimulating drink before dinner, and what is served after dinner is usually known rather as a digestif.
Neat for me. After dinner, as mentioned already. Too sweet for before, surely? And served for me more as a dessert than a digestif. I still don’t know exactly what the drink is (manufacture, grape origins, etc; I’ve been promised the details, but was in too much of a hurry to wait, and the Blaauwklippen website doesn’t offer me any help – or am I just a bit too blurry to find it?). It is ruby-red, sweet, clearly fortified but not spirity – and pretty delicious if you like that sort of thing. I do indeed like that sort of thing, as I have previously confessed. At such moments I always recall Cathy van Zyl saying she couldn’t even bear to drink Amarula Cream (a favourite of mine) if it was poured over Brad Pitt. (I don’t believe her, actually.) This is much less vulgar stuff than Amarula, but not quite in the class of, say, Port; more like an elegant jerepigo, really.
The Blaauwklippen B&A tastes to me vaguely of rather rotten – certainly over-ripe – mulberries and loganberries, with some spiciness. But nicer than that sounds, as you will see from the level in the bottle in the accompanying photo, and not squishy, because of the alcoholic backbone and well-balanced acidity. Perhaps it’s made from malbec? That’s what it tastes like, though coming from Blaauwklippen it should be zinfandel.
I should point out that it is offered in an absolutely gorgeous flat 500ml bottle, with lovely detailing on label and neckband, and a shiny gilt stopper. Not necessarily in austere good taste (much like the wine, you might say), but very pretty. The sort of bottle that, once you’ve gorged yourself on the contents you’re quite convinced you will want to keep, and don’t get around to throwing away for at least a few years – and even then with some reluctance and guilt.
The same sort of packaging, but in a 750ml version, is used for the Potstilled [sic] brandy. Now, this is much more respectable stuff than the B&A, and actually seems to me a pretty good brandy – beautifully smooth, not oaky, good flavour, refined and not too spirity. You see, I felt obliged to try it as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used something very similar to this to fortify the B&A which would be why that stuff is also so classily, winningly smooth.
I did manage to find prices, by googling, on other people’s blogs (though not much useful information or opinion – blogs seem to me to mostly reproduce the blandnesses of press releases). Ex-farm, the aperitif is R195 and the brandy R260. Seems a lot of money, but I got my bottles for free and I promise you I shall drain them both dry.
By the way, all I was really going to write about the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction is that it really is pretty pathetic that some of those wonderful white wines got such low prices comparatively (the lovely Rijk’s Chenin at R150 per bottle – less than half the price of the same producer’s Pinotage, which I found vastly less drinkable!). I might even have added some snide remark about all those winemakers full of confidence and pride in the ageability of their red wines, but who roll whimpering like puppies on their backs as soon as Patron Saint Alan Pick comes near, in the hopes that he will buy their stuff – while they know full well that he will sell their precious wine in its youthful rawness at huge markups, long before it starts to show its best.