H-F D calls Rioja "filth"

Wonderful masterclassTM in lifestyle writing in the Observer today. Quite why anyone would waste their time on local rags when gems such as these are available on the interwebs for free is a mystery. At a literary luminary luvvie dinner for Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher back in 1982, Anthony Powell, author of Dance to the Music of Time made a rude comment about the wine served. “They dined on pheasant and drank Rioja, a wine that at the time was something of a novelty (indeed, Powell recalled in his diary that he had never before drunk ‘such filth’).”

Dinner with Thatcher 004 H F D calls Rioja "filth"

What a faux pas on the part of the host, historian Hugh Thomas, who had recently been created Baron Thomas of Swynnerton, to serve Spanish swill to Margaret. He’d have been much better off serving Rustenberg for those were the heady days when Rustenberg Dry Red was the best and best value red in SA, before the estate was sabotaged by the Wine Lizard and winemaker Etienne le Riche was sent packing to Jonkershoek. Etienne is SA’s best-ever Cabernet maker, although I hear his son Christo will in all likelihood surpass his dad. Meanwhile we all live in hope that the crimes of the Lizard, seen here hitching a ride on the back of SA wine, will one day catch up with him.

photo 64 615x452 H F D calls Rioja "filth"

But things seem to be turning around for Rustenberg with chip off the old block Murray Barlow acclaimed as Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year last weekend, although the tweet of grumpy old Platter taster

Angela Lloyd ‏@AngelaLloyd1 30 Nov
Aren’t these winemaker awards ever more ridiculous, especially when not given to those actually responsible for turning grapes into wine?

is totally below the belt and Diners Club CEO Ebrahim Matthews, her boss, should fire her saggy green track-suited ass forthwith. On the subject of bitchy exchanges, there is a doozy between Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis: “The Thatcher occasion was tough going… The worst part was after dinner, when old Thomas initiated a ‘conversation’, and everyone talked about fawn countries and fawn politics, just like the college essay society. There was nothing in that for me. At last I got the blue flash: ‘You haven’t said anything yet.’ I draw the veil.

He compared watching her that night to watching a top-class tennis player: ‘No ‘Uh huh, well, what do other people think about that?’, just bang back over the net. I noticed she didn’t laugh much, or make jokes.

Amis replied on 17 December 1982: ‘Jolly vivid a/c of the Mrs T gathering. Funny that H-F D (you are a shit) was down at the Jewish end of the table. Might have known that Al, lately as lefty as they come, would get his foot in there. It’ll be Lord Alvarez before we know it.’

H-F D stood for Horse-Faced Dwarf, Larkin and Amis’s unkind private nickname for the author…” If only the bitchiness among SA wine writers would sink to this level occasionally!

Murray’s winning wine was a Stellenbsoch Chardonnay 2012, one of the few entries made from this noblest of grapes in a competition dominated by over acidic Sauvignon Blanc. The damage caused by Hermit on the Pill and the conflicted cabal within SBIG pushing an unpopular style of Sauvignon Blanc on an unresponsive SA wine drinking public, needs to be fixed asap.