Relishing Moments of Silence (and of respite)

It strikes me that it’s quite a while since I’ve written a genuinely rather drunken little note here. (The “rather” is a dubious decoration, I confess.) Tonight I decided to celebrate just a little. I’ve been working recently on the final text of the book that I’ve written on Cape wine to be published by the University of California Press  sometime around the middle of next year.

“Final text”, I say, because  it’s already been through the publisher’s “copy-editing” process, in which they turn my inadequate South African prose into slightly more polished American prose (apart from anything else). It’s been a fascinating process, given that I am interested in language as such – the differences between American and SA-British English go much deeper than simple spelling conventions. Plus, of course, there was more in the way of carelessness that they have picked up. To be edited, even sub-edited, by serious,very skilled people is a rather sobering, and occasionally humiliating, process. If only I could be sure that all the errors and misjudgements I’ve made in the book could also be removed.

Incidentally, the book is going to be titled “Wines of the New South Africa: Tradition and Revolution”. I wanted to have the subtitle because there’s quite a lot of history in it – older history than the years since that auspicious year of 1994.

But that’s really another story, the only connection with this evening being that I’d finally sent off (scarily) my last revisions of the text and the material for the maps. I will still have to proof-read it all once it is laid out finally, and prepare an index, but this was my last chance to make revisions (changes in winemakers, ranges, etc, from now on will not be reflected).

So I didn’t have to do any work this evening, and could get a bit sloshed if I wished. Which I did. Especially as the book work came very close on the heels of my Platter work, normally my only really busy time of the year. I’m not used to working pretty hard, but now I have been doing so (OK, by my standards, which are not all that incredibly demanding) for four months or so. Though I can’t say the demands have meant that I have abjured (wonderful word!) alcohol in the evenings all that time.

And strangely or not, I am almost entirely convinced that my grammar and spelling improves rather than deteriorates with mild(ish) inebriation.

Not necessarily my memory, and I’d almost forgotten the point of this particular bit of rambling. Which is to say that I intended to have a glass of white while preparing my meal (some chicken stuff, etc, but the highlight was fresh broad beans). Then to move on to a glass or two (etc) of Domaine Graillot Crozes Hermitage 2005 (in the wake of a wonderful seminar by the father and son Graillot team, brilliantly moderated by Adi Badenhorst, at last weekend’s Swartland Revolution – I think it was the best event so far of the many great events in the three years of the Revolution weekend).

But I never got to the Graillot, in fact, so enjoyable was the white wine. The bottle is now empty! All my own  work! Should I be worried? Probably. Unfortunately, I see from the Blank Bottle website that the Moment of Silence 2011 (what I’v just sunk a bottle of) is sold out. It was an absolutely drinkable, totally delicious blend of old-vine chenin with chardonnay and viognier – not from the Swartland as one might have expected, but from Wellington. Rich, but well cut by fresh acidity, and packed with flavour without being showy. I loved it. Again, Peter Walser’s Blank Bottle shows itself the source of some really good wine and remarkable value – this was R85 when it was available. Watch out for new vintages is all I can say.

Oh, and I’ll tell you more about my bloody book, of which I’m entirely sick, as publication date gets closer. It has some weaknesses, I fear, but some strengths too, I hope.

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