Confreria of the Cape


We rode into Almeida late last Sunday afternoon. The Confreria of Flavours were waiting for us with the steely eyes of conquistadors and the majesty of proud descendants of the Marquis of Pombal or at least a retainer. In their red velvet robes decorated with enamel broaches and awards, this brotherhood of flavours had come to show us the olive oils, roasted almonds, cherries, Serra da Estrella cheese and wines of the district.

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Why does SA food and wine not do brotherhoods? Sure there is the Commanderie de Bordeaux founded two years ago at La Motte and the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs which has been around for half a century, but these are very much French institutions.

The greatest whisky marketer of them all, James Espey, who was blinged with an OBE at the recent birthday honours list of Brenda, has had many a career highlight. The brightest of which was the invention of Keepers of the Quaich, a medieval brotherhood of whisky, founded in 1988. He got the idea from the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a club for Burgundy lovers, and he thought what Scotch needed was a dash of exclusivity and a celebration of tradition. Today billionaires queue up to become Keepers and the Quaich has played no small part in making whisky the world’s most aspirational dram.

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We’re trying to do the same thing with the Brandy Brotherhood but the coast is clear for a Confreria of Chenin, a Commanderie of Chardonnay and a Shiraz Society. All that’s missing is a marketing spark and the address of a seamstress who can whip up some robes from curtaining. The doyenne of Cape wine retail, Caroline Rillema, has the contact.