Knowing when to stop

I don’t feel that I’ve drunk too much tonight (though I’m aware that others might disagree, including my doctor, and possibly me too tomorrow morning – but look, I can still hold a sentence together!), though it’s been an evening of remarkable vinous variety and delight. That’s suddenly struck me. How grateful I am! It’s not often that I partake of so many different bottles, but they conspired to be so many and so open, all at once, that it would have been mean-spirited to turn down any one of their offers.

In brackets, as it were, let me say that I made a fine little dinner for myself (and I make no claims in that department, so let me get away with it please). Fish seems comparatively inexpensive right now, and my local (Rosmead Avenue) Spar is doing well with it, so that’s what I’ve been having recently. Swordfish last night. Tuna tonight – half of it raw (with a soy-sauce-heavy dressing), half of it seared. And I googled for a recipe to make a salad from the Swiss chard in my garden, and resolved on this one with lemon, parmesan and breadcrumbs, which worked very well indeed.

So the food was undoubtedly a part of the totality of my sensual delight. But so was the wine. While I was cooking, I was sipping on a remarkably enjoyable 2016 chenin made by Wesley Clarence, a wine-loving near-neighbour of mine (we discovered our mutual interest when he spied me late-night-walking my dogs and wearing a Swartland Revolution T-shirt). Wesley regularly makes a cab and this chenin, apparently, in a pretty natural sort of way. The chenin, recently bottled, is about the cloudiest wine I’ve ever seen – but who cares about that (though the Wine & Spirits Board would burst out in despairing laughter). It’s very tasty and lip-smacking.

I moved from Wes’s chenin to Sijnn Saignée (also from the fridge) while eating. The Sijnn is a most remarkable wine, I think. I used not to like it, but the style (rather than me, I think) has changed in recent years, from weird to interesting (though maybe I’m also less weird) and has gained deliciousness. Made from mourvèdre, syrah and touriga nacional, it’s more a light red than a rosé; lots of character and flavour, beautifully structured around a fresh acidity.

mixThe meal wound down with another wine that I’d opened last night: Coenraad de Buys 2015, made by Cape Town advocate Pierre Rabie under his Giant Periwinkle label – one of the very best set of garagiste wines around, I think (I know Christian Eedes and many others share my enthusiasm for his Blanc Fumé). The Coenraad de Buys is from Elim syrah, and thought of by Pierre as his braaivles wine. It’s much fresher than most other examples – with Trizanne Signature Wines Reserve Syrah another honourable and excellent exception to the Elim tendency to leave red grapes hanging too long. At something under R80 (though made in very small quantities and not easy to find, I suspect) it’s a first-class bargain.

My last wine of the evening – like all the others from an open bottle – was a fairly modest but totally captivating sherry – Lustau Don Nuño Oloroso, dry, oxidative and wonderfully savoury. I’ve now just swallowed the last sip of it (though the flavour is reverberating still). Let me see if I can take a blurry photo of all these bottles – and a sadly empty glass. Some of us know when to stop.

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