Sense and sensuality

Sensual or intellectual pleasure? Wine is, of course both. Or can be. Of course for some people it’s neither, merely a business or a blogging opportunity, and I’m rather sorry for them. Ultimately, behind the shreds of professionalism, I’m a mere consumer, occasionally disgusted, often enough ravished.

BacchusTonight has been delightful drinking. Even if it’s a bit embarrassing to say how much – though it’s really a question of how widely – I’ve drunk (you can judge by my prose if it was too much – I won’t admit of other measures, as I’m not driving).

The last few inches of a bottle of Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer 2012 while listening to some Schumann piano music and preparing my modest supper started things off very happily. I love this wine, always have and always will. Wouldn’t want to drink it every night, but would be distresed at the idea of never again having a good gewurz, as Cluver’s undoubtedly, invariably is.

Then I wanted a red, to go with some venison and salad. I had recently broached a half-case I’d long since bought of Eben Sadie’s red Sequillo 2006 and the first bottle had suggested that, surprisingly, the wine had passed its sell-by date. I wasn’t clever enough to be able to analyse why it was unsatisfactory, but it was. So I opened another bottle tonight with a little trepidation. No need! A great bottle. Enough fruit forcefulness to cope with some mature but stalwart tannins (of the elegant, suave Swartland kind), and a robust, savoury acidity. Really lovely mature, serious wine. Clearly it was the other bottle that was the anomalous one. Whew (given that there are four more bottles).

I’d noticed I had a bottle of the 2005, so I decided to turn my pleasure partly into work and opened that one too. Clearly family, but the 2005 was less good – the fruit a little more faded, leaving the structure too much in command. I’ll try it again tomorrow, but suspect that this character will be even more pronounced then. Interestingly, Cape shiraz (and Sequillo is, of course, shiraz-based) doesn’t as a rule age all that well, compared to Cape cabernet. Though I did recently have an absolutely lovely Quoin Rock Syrah 2006, possibly at its peak, but in no hurry to turn up its toes.

Work over this evening, it was time for pudding. (And I suddenly remember how much Harald Bresselschmitt of the first-rate Aubergine restaurant in Cape Town hates it when I refer to “pudding” rather than dessert – let alone when I speak of him as a “cook” rather than a “chef”; being German he doesn’t understand the strain in English which prefers the less grand names for things –often “U” versus “non-U”, like napkin rather than serviette, curtains rather than drapes….; I don’t know and don’t care if pudding and cooks fit into this snobbish category, but now I try not to offend Harald at least, in deference to his exquisite skills.)

Back to pudding. It was a handful of Italian-style almond biscotti and brandy. What a great combination. I confess I just dropped the biscotti in my glass of Oude Meester Diamant (the current favourite stuff at a more-or-less affordable level – about R170) and fished them out with my fingers. Licked the fingers and ate the saturated biscuit. Oh my. What delight, what sumptuous sensuality….

Next week I’m going to do an “Advanced Brandy Course” at Van Ryn in Stellenbosch to try to improve my understanding (and therewith, please God, my appreciation) of this wonderful stuff called brandy which seems to me to so interestingly accompany a lot of foods. Notably biscotti.

Before then I have to negotiate the “Oesaf” (harvest festival?) of the Swartland winemakers, on Saturday night. As usual, it will be a pretty unashamed and somewhat elitist party, with none of the cultural claims that the Solms-Delta public oesfees event has, but always a happy and genuine occasion, just as valid in its own way – if a bit more self-indulgent and less socially respectable. I guess I might even get drunk, though not on brandy.

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