Ninja Carl heads for Ningxia

De Morgenzon winemaker Carl van der Merwe (below) is one lucky round-eyed winemaker. He left Quoin Rock before Kenny Kunene arrived and will now NOT have to eat sushi off the pygies of naked models in Dave King’s Tales of King Arthur-inspired crypt on the Simonsberg. Since his new employer Wendy Appelbaum cancelled her winning auction bid for The Rock, he does not have to deal with those dodgy grapes, either.

Carl van der Merwe Ninja Carl heads for Ningxia

For grapes from The Rock are not rock stars, according to a producer who has bought them in the past. Uneven ripeness is an issue thanks to the direction the vineyards were planted and the ravages of the South Easter that sweeps through them like a wolf. So much for believing in pricey consultants!

Act II was to turn it into a University of Wine and looked like a far better bet, especially now that baboons are farming the Agulhas vineyards which supplied grapes for those great Quoin Rock wines Carl made. But after the untimely death of Dougie de Jager last week, Tasting Technicons are probably on hold, unless Kenny wants to go back to klas.

Carl is off to Ningxia as one of ten winemakers selected from over 50 international applicants to compete in the Ningxia Wine Challenge. Over R250,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs and to win them, he’ll have to make two wines which will be judged in 2013 (white) and 2014 (red). It’s like MasterChefSA, but for winemakers and without Pete Goffe-Wood.

Ningxia is famous for its wolfberries, so bottles of Marc Kent’s Wolftrap, one of the best value reds in the SA cellar, will be useful presents to take along. Wikipedia reports there is a 1:500 scale model of the Aksai Chin disputed China/Indian border in Ningxia “complete with mountains, valleys, lakes and hills” and observes ominously “its purpose is as yet unknown.” Perhaps the Nifty Ninjas of Ningxia wish to crack the Indian market and are modelling Indian terroir to get their wine styles right. If anyone can give them a cuvée de curry, it’s Carl.