Die Kaap word weer Portugees

The expression “die kaap is weer Hollands” means things are back to normal. Which is how residents of the Western Cape feel about the victory of the DA in the province in the election earlier this month. But before Jan van Riebeeck established the first take away and café at the Cape in the middle of the 17th century, the Portuguese were here erecting padrãos, stone crosses they used for ballast in their small ships, hopefully to be replaced with gold and spices from the new world. What a pity they didn’t bring vines along in their undergarments like ancestors of Danie de Wet and Jan Boland Coetzee who smuggled in Chardonnay while all other SA men arrived at Jan Smuts airport with their briefs bulging with Hustler and Playboy magazines in those salad days before the interwebs unleashed a tsunami of porn on the world.

Alas the vines used to establish the SA wine industry were perhaps not the best suited to Cape climes. Certainly after tasting the Boplaas Touriga Nacional Family Reserve 2012 at Emily’s yesterday, I’m convinced Touriga would have been a far better bet than Merlot or Cabernet. Carel Nel calls Touriga “the Rolls Royce of grapes” and although he prefers Mercedes

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his SA expression of the signature red grape from Portugal is excellent. Spicy citrus with a floral nose, it also works a treat in a blend with Shiraz in the brilliantly named Gamka 2012. Already Gamka sales are matching those of his Reserve Port at the same price through his cellar door in Calitzdorp. Or Calitzdop as it should be renamed, an oasis in the Karoo which shares 25,000 visitors every year with Boplaas.

The town has been reclaimed from the yskassies – a gang of juvenile delinquents terrorizing the residents and too young to be sorted out by PC Plod. RDP houses were hastily erected for yskassie ouers and now the delinquents spend their time trashing their own properties. As they say in the classics, “‘n boer maak ‘n plan.”

A vertical port tasting followed with the stand out wine for me the 2005 Reserve. “Frightfully good” is how Paul Symington described it and he is not wrong.

But the emphasis of the farm is changing. The brilliant 2013 Sauvignon Blanc confirmed a change of focus to table wine and Carel commented “Boplaas will focus on Cape Portuguese table wines.” A plan seconded by daughter and marketing maven Rozanne Nel who noted “we aim to be a leader in a niche market.” Exhibit A is the Cape Portuguese White Blend 2014 starring Verdelho.

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The news of the Portuguese table wine focus comes as music to my ears as I put the finishing touches to the Confraria do Cabo Tormentoso, a brotherhood of lovers of all things Portuguese: sardines, Maria Gomes, pastéis de nata, Touriga, fado, the diaries of José Saramago and the art of Joana Vasconcelos.