It was one of those days full of great wine (and great people too, in fact). I drank a bit too much, I confess – but all of it good stuff. May I tell you, as it’s even a pleasure to write down some of these sonorous names?
Eben Sadie came to lunch with me (I needed to interview him for something I’m writing). So, as nothing is better for lunch than riesling, I opened a beautifully mild, mature Piesporter Goldtroepfchen Spaetlese 2002. Just perfect of its type – we scarcely bothered to say anything about it, just drank it happily. Then, proving me wrong in saying there’s nothing better for lunch than riesling, we opened the red burgundy that Eben had brought: Robert Chevillon Nuits St Georges Les Chaignots 2006. Which was excellent, just starting to enter maturity, I guess, losing the element of harshness I often find in young first class burgundies, acquiring complexity and retaining a freshness and elegance. Magical wine.
Just in time for a glass of this, Chris Alheit arrived (kindly bringing me a few tubs of raw ripe olives to prepare, from Hans Evenhuis, who owns the Hemelsrand olive farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde and the winery where Chris makes his wine – see my story on that here). Chris was in the middle of an exhausting day of showing people his 2012 vintages of Cartology and Radio Lazarus. So of course we had a glass of each of those splendid wines, which are drinking better and better each time I taste them, every few months. Certainly not a come-down after the Mosel and Cote d’Or.
So much for the afternoon. Then I trotted round the corner to A Tavola, the always thoroughly appealing Italian restaurant in Claremont, where I was to have dinner with Caroline Rilemma (owner of the excellent eponymous wine shop in central Cape Town). She’d insisted on bringing the wines – and did so somewhat excessively and generously, and to great effect.
We started with three Sicilian whites off her shelves (she has undoubtedly the best selection of Italian wines in the country). First a pleasant enough but unmemorable carricante from the slopes of Mount Etna. Then a more exciting 2011 grillo from the Agrigentio area: Cristo di Campobello (R172 from her shop), and, perhaps even better, a 2011 malvasia from the island of Lipari: Salina Caravaglia Bianco. At R120 a great bargain, I reckon. It’s not only South Africa making unprecedentedly good white wines in warm climates for reasonable prices.
Then two wines from nebbiolo, a Langhe Rosso which was OK but totally outshone by the magnificence of a maturing but still young Barolo: Paolo Scavino Cannubi 2004. It’s tannins still brooding, but starting to resolve into the deep, dark fruit. Such grand wine. Barolo seems to me like a macho version of burgundy in some ways – singing in muscular bass below the soprano charm of pinot noir.
Excuse me for that. It was a very long day. At the end of which I stumbled home, illegally and clumsily clambering over a fence to cross the railway line and avoid going all the way to the subway.