Archaic Pongs


Necklace murders, in which a car tyre was draped around the neck of a victim and set alight, summed up SA for the rest of the appalled world in the eighties. If Jane MacQuitty, wine pundit of the Times, has her way, tyres will once again sum up SA – at least for wine.
radial tyre Archaic Pongs

Writing in the Thunderer last month, MacQuitty noted “It’s not just South Africa’s prop forwards that are big, burly bruisers. Most South African red wines come out of the scrum smelling of something distinctly other than violets. Unlike other hot, arid southern hemisphere countries which have mostly eradicated their archaic pongs, South Africa has yet to tame its peculiar, savage, burnt rubber and dirt odour. Other commentators either fail to take offence, or euphemistically dismiss the smell and taste as “smoky”, “earthy” or “tarry”. South Africans themselves are tolerant of their country’s distinctive red wine characteristic, and even British merchants specialising in Cape wines often just don’t see it.”

While the rugby motif was clearly inspired by the UK defeat at the boots of the Springboks the previous week, does she have a point?

Unlike most other UK wine authorities who conduct their tasting examinations in situ courtesy of the business class hospitality doled out by WOSA (Wines of SA, the exporters association) and often display the good manners of not writing about their trip when they get home, Calamity Jane got her dope from last month’s WOSA Megatasting in London.

It’s all my fault: I was approached for my suggestions of wines to be showcased and came up with my ordering of Juliet Cullinan’s excellent red benchmark tasting held at the Park Hyatt in August:

Morgenster 2003
Rustenberg Peter Barlow 2004
Galpin Peak Tete du Cuvee 2005
Beyerskloof 2003
Steytler Vision 2005
Villafonte C 2005
Morgenhof 2001
Epicurean 2004
Delheim grand reserve 2004
Warwick Trilogy 2005
Jordan Cobblers Hill 2003
Veenwouden Classic 2003
Graham Beck Ridge Syrah 2002
Raka Quinary 2003 – fantastic value
Grangehurst Nikela 2001
Thelema 2004

as a good place to start. They were nearly all rubber-free the last time I nosed them, with possible exceptions the Ridge Syrah and the Quinary, but then I picked their aromas as smoky/charry rather than Michelin. So either WOSA asked that other UK wine guru and noted petrol head Jeremy Clarkson (something of a specialist on Lanzerac wines) for his top SA reds or Ms M has made a major contribution to the characterization of SA terroir.

With Malaysia battling to regain its status as the world’s largest producer of rubber (poll position was snatched by Thailand some years ago) its quite fitting that SA farm workers, many of whose forebears came from Malaysia as slaves, should be doing their bit to raise the profile of rubber as a commodity with serious hedonistic aspirations.


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