I’ve watched the slow progress of Delaire’s refitting over the last while. The more I drove past and saw all the work being done on the front gate the more I was intrigued as to what was going on inside. Eventually I popped in for a visit. And you know what I found?
I found the Kanye West of cellars. I could almost hear it shouting “Yo all you other cellars, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but Delaire has the best doors, tasting room, restaurant, wines, marble, vastness, hotel lobby, artwork and view of all time.” Or you could say I found an ostentatious building that leaves half its shirt buttons undone, wears a big gold chain and drives a similarly gold Aston Martin. I obviously do not have world class taste, as according to the website:
“The spectacular Restaurant and Tasting Lounge has been designed by the world famous Interior Designer and Architect David Collins of London. Artworks on the Delaire Graff Estate represent some of SA’s finest contemporary artists including William Kentridge, Robert Hodgins, Deborah Bell, Dylan Lewis, Sydney Kumalo and Anton Smit. Gardens have been designed and re-landscaped by Keith Kirsten of Keith Kirsten Horticulture.”
Exciting hey. I am especially happy I got to walk on Keith Kirsten grass.
I walked into the lobby through two massive studded doors, which in themselves are pretty cool, but at Delaire the fittings seem to be having a pissing contest to see who is bigger and shinier with none really winning. Feeling like I was in an expensive hotel I strode up to the counter and tried to book a room, such was my confusion. I recovered quickly, grinned, and asked the petite brunette manning the front desk which way to the tasting room.
Hotel or cellar?
After navigating past a battalion of little sculptures, and wandering through at least three different design schemes I found my way into the tasting room; where I was promptly ignored for a few minutes. After being directed to a table to await our server I glanced around the high ceilinged room. It was adorned with, well, too much to remember. It was as if a seagull from Finding Nemo had been given a couple decor magazines and asked to choose the interiors for Delaire, “Mine mine mine mine mine.” Above the thickly set marble fire place there is a huge painting which faced fierce competition in the pissing contest from the ornate light fittings, the plush furniture, a large table filled with wines and Delaire gifts, and lastly (although the easiest on the eye) the view.
I found a table outside and, visibly shaken, started to roll a cigarette. Smoking outside has been outlawed at Delaire, apparently it affects the experience of other patrons – more than the decor? That’s hard to believe.
The wines were (thankfully) a little more restrained than the setting. We tasted four wines which cost R35. A nice little touch was a laminated card with place-marks for the wines you are tasting. It’s the small things you see, not gianormous doors, that excite me . Or the bonus Haiku version:
It’s the the small things
you see, not gianormous doors,
that excite me.
The Coastal Cuvee 2009 is a Sauvignon Blanc with 5% of the juice being fermented in new French oak which added some weight to a run-of-the-mill Sauvignon Blanc. Winter melon on the nose with a little tinned asparagus; the palate was more expressive with pineapple, guava and a kind of Pro-Nutro banana edge. The oak was mostly hidden behind the almost sweet tropical fruit, but there is a slight spiciness that was appreciated.
I was interested in the Mouvedre Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2009 (Alc 13.23%, RS 6 g/l, Acid 6 g/l) and found it a satisfying Rose. It had a very pretty pick colour – very similar, in fact, to the colour of David Donde’s t-shirt who served us coffee at Truth that morning - a school girl kind of pink if that makes sense. The spicy strawberry nose followed through to the palate with a cheese-cake character that was quite delicious. Acidity and sugar balanced quite well, and, although I prefer my pinks a little drier, this is a crowd pleaser.
Moving on to the two reds, we started with the 2007 Shiraz whose 12 months in new oak showed throughout and was a little too close to biting into a two-by-four for my liking. It had a youthful bright purple colour with a savoury nose of dried meats, blackberries, and smoky black pepper. The palate was nicely weighted, but the oak and the 14.5% alc put me off a bit; there were dark cherry flavours, some meatiness as well as a little vanilla from the 15% American oak that was used. Gary Veynerchuck of Wine Library TV shouting “aaaarrraragh the Oak Moster” floated into my consciousness while I was tasting.
The last, and easily my favourite of the four was the flagship Delaire Red 2006 (Alc 14.5%, RS 2.31 g/l Acid 6.0 g/l) a full Bordeaux blend led by Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Shiraz. The nose showed lead pencil and black cherry, with some minty undertones. The palate had a wonderful juicy quality to it, with cassis, liquorice, and dark berries dominating the flavours. The finish was not as good as I’d hoped; after the grin-producing juicy burst it falls apart a bit at the sides and ends rather abruptly.
The whole experience was a positive one, and if you like BIG design, BIG artworks, and LOTS of glass, you’ll fucking go dilly for Delaire. I prefer subtlety over brashness, so not really my thing. The service, apart from the first 5 minutes was good and the servers knew their stuff. I don’t think I’ll feel the need to revisit Delaire for awhile, but it’s just a matter of taste.
(FYI I nicked the pics from Delaire’s website as the ones I took were crap)