Drunk, Visited

Weekend of Wine Part 2: Nachdurst 1

Nachdurst is a German phrase describing the insatiable thirst one wakes with after a long night out. You wake up in the early hours of the morning, stumble to the bathroom, stick your head under the cold water tap and gulp mouthful after life-giving mouthful until you think you are sated. But straightening up you realise the thirst is still there in a bizarre contrast to your bloated belly – that my friends is nachdurst.

*Update: Please check the comments to see the correct use of ‘nachdurst’. It seems I got a little lost in translating.


Even from an early age I have suffered from Nachdurst

This is exactly what I woke with this past Saturday morning after a long night out with Mark Kaigwa – Kenyan child star and digital whizz – after the 27 Dinner on Friday night. Hazily I realised that in 30min I was supposed to be boarding a bus for a bloggers tour of Stellenbosch to promote the Great Wine Capitals’ 2011 Best of Wine Tourism competition.

I speedily made my way to the meeting point in Kloof Street where I jumped on the bus with Jan Loubser Claire & Eamon Mack, and Natalie & Gino Marco.

We visited seven farms and asked to take note of the service levels, selling points,  and branding during the time we were there. I am not going to go into detail in each category for each farm; I would rather gauge my eyeballs out with a rusty corkscrew. I will instead give a short (I’ll try) paragraph on each farm and comment on anything positive or negative that stood out.

First stop was at Simonsig and to combat the nacht durst I headed straight for the bubblies. I am a big fan of Simonsig’s MCCs. I think the Kaapse Vonkel (SA’s first) offers great value, and the Cuvee Royale offers more complexity with not too much added cost. I sipped the bubblies and spat the rest, it was very early. The service was veexcellent; attentive and informed. The only problem for us was that Simonsig had been entered into the Restaurant category for the awards, but was closed. Our visit went off hassle free, and the bubbly had worked wonders for moral. Well mine anyway. Piling into the bus we drove off to Neethlingshof.

We arrived at Neethlingshof just as the rain started to gain some weight and fall with purpose. The six of us trotted across the cobble stoned forecourt and into the tasting room. We were surprisingly greeted with a sigh by the tasting room assistant. We learnt that just minutes before a large group had arrived claiming they had made a booking for something and had none. It was strange as I didn’t think you needed a booking. It seems you do for a food and wine pairing, which makes sense, but the server huffed and puffed when she saw us as if we were guilty of the same crime.

Oddly flustered she began the tasting. As Neethlingshof has put itself forward for Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices Eamon’s question as to what these practices are seemed an obvious one. For our server, however, it was as if she had been asked what the PH levels in their Malbec have been for the last four vintages. She  didn’t have a clue, so Jan from Spit or Swallow had to step in and give the spiel.  Dunce

Things got worse on the service front when before pouring a wine she read – not simply repeated, held up to her face and read – the tasting notes off the back of the bottle. Not so great. The wines were OK, I found the reds a little over-oaked, but the Malbec will have mass appeal and is quite affordable (oh balls, I’m starting to sound like a platter guide). The standout was the Maria Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2009 my wine of the day. It showed a spicy apricot nose with a rich fruity palate that’s chock-full of Christmas cake a dried apricot. The acidity is precise and balances out the sugar beautifully. Freaking scrumptious.

In our absence the rain seemed to have lost interest and we boarded the bus in pale sunlight, giggling at the tasting room attendant who had asked the others whether it was appropriate to serve me as I was wearing an Alcoholics Anonymous badge. The next stop was Waterford who have entered themselves in the architecture category as well as Innovative Wine Tourism experiences, and Wine Tourism Services (I am not sure why all the farms don’t enter this category it  seems to apply to them all).

Before we could reach the place, however, we had to reach it. The driver seemed intent on getting in the way of this. Careening around corners at breakneck speed, we at one point wondered if he was taking part in some tastings of his own. When we jokingly mentioned doing this in a helicopter next time he took it as a personal affront and tried to destroy the bus over the next speed bump. During each wayward manoeuvre Claire would grab onto to someone as if death itself was approaching. I have bruises on my thigh to prove this.

But survive we did and all piled into Waterford. The building, according to their website, “was styled along the engaging terracotta design of the classic Bordeaux chateaus of France.” We weren’t buying it, and thought the building was decidedly Romexotuscan – you have to ask Jan about that, he’s the architect.

The service was outstanding. We were at this point a little pressed for time, and when we asked the lady serving us (I apologise for not taking down her name) to speed it up a little, we recieved quite probably the fastest tasting Waterford has ever given.

Waterford’s wines are of very good quality with their Pecan stream delivering on the value side very well. My one gripe is with their entry level Chenin. The last time I tasted it was unoaked and it was a clean fresh easy going Chenin. Now 40% is barrel fermented in French oak. It is still balanced, but I didn’t like the vanilla character that is now quite obvious. What used to be a fun wine has now got all serious, I guess you could say it now  frowns instead of flirts. A personal preference, but one I thought I’d share.

Another plus was as we were leaving I asked if there was any of The Jem open. There wasn’t but one of the guys behind the counter was happy to open one for me. Claire says it was because she told him I was South Africa’s Robert Parker, I thought it was because he was after my AA badge.

The 2006 is gorgeous. A blend of the estate’s  best Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre,  Sangiovese, and Barbera, it showed dark cherries on the nose along with some spicy cedar notes. The palate is tight and fresh with with some spicy cassis played out on a dusty texture. This was easily the most elegant and restrained wine of the day which made it stand out against the rather bombastic reds we mainly tasted.

So all in all Waterford ‘scored’ well. Excellent service, smart wines and a willingness to open up a R700 bottle wine for a AA badge wearing youth. They get my vote (which I don’t have you understand).

In the next instalment: The grand and ridiculously fancy and handsome cellar of Glenelly, lunch at Guardian Peak where a tooth is chipped, wines at Ernie Els where I spit with vigour, and more wine at Waterkloof where I find a rather ball tickling Sauvignon Blanc.