My first supper back in rainy Cape Town (dinner on the plane last night – how meaningful is weather above the clouds? previous evening in coolish Madrid; night before in balmy Seville). Something local to celebrate, something delicious. It seemed that Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma 2011 winked seductively from the shelf, so….
At first I thought it might be a mistake. Many good burgundies do shut down, retreat, go into hibernation for a while after the first few fruity years, and I thought Peter-Allan Finlayson’s pinot, so delicious a few years ago, might have done the same. But after a while to think about it in my wide Spiegelau glass, the wine woke up, pulled itself together and … well, I was about to say “opened up and offered itself joyously to pleasure”, but that might be ambiguously shocking, so I’ll just say “opened up nicely” in the standard nomenclature. Is that less potentially, er, sensual? Oh, this is a very sexy wine – dark and deep and deliciously mysterious.
I forced myself to pull away after a good deal of pleasure, and turned aside to a bottle that had been waiting faithfully, if not necessarily demurely, after being broached before I left it on the (kitchen) shelf ten days earlier: KWV’s non-vintage Cape Classic Cape Tawny Dessert Wine.
The current vintage of Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma (2012) costs under R300, half the price of a decent village burgundy these days, and easily more than a match for some of them. KWV (who have I can’t imagine how many tanks and vats full of mature port-style wines) give away their gorgeous Tawny for less than R70 per bottle. I don’t know for sure, but this wine was surely hanging about for a decade at least before it was coerced into bottle. The quality:price ratio is remarkable. Do yourself a favour and indulge in some this winter.
So it was altogether a pleasant vinous homecoming, to be reminded of the lovely wines and great value for money we winelovers can get here. Not that it’s unchallengeable, mind you. In Spain I could find some immensely attractive fino and manzanilla sherries for between four and seven euros a bottle (Tio Pepe, La Guita, Solear) – even at the current dreadful exchange rate that’s pretty near unbeatable value. Sherry is undoubtedly one of the most underrated (and therefore underpriced) wines in the world today – though there are some that are pricey: I confess I succumbed to a bottle that cost me 200 euros, but that is vastly more rare a price than it is in Bordeaux or Burgundy (or Napa, etc).
So, while I was reminded in Spain just how much we are ripped off here on many food and other items by our very profitable supermarkets and big producers (Fairview’s cheeses seem to get more expensive each time I turn my back!), it was good to note again just how well priced so many fine wines are locally, even with the mark-ups.