Oceans Six

Dinner with Paul Cluver last night at Sloppy Sam’s in Green Point. Paul was in fine form, reporting how his 2009 Sauvignon Blanc forms part of the $250 per person degustation menu at Manhattan Michelin three star establishment Le Bernardin, shifting five cases a month Stateside. The 2009 is now nearly sold out and the 2010 will be released in September, earlier than usual. Volumes are comparable, a remarkable achievement in a vintage wrecked for many by late February heatwaves.

Earlier in the day, I’d been part of a consumer panel at a Two Oceans Power Tasting of the six +/- R30 a bottle wines in the range, tasted blind against their major competitors. “How will you write it up without it looking like you’re crawling?” asked cosmopolitan blogger Clare Mack after Two Oceans cleaned up five of the six categories for me, coming second by a whisker to a Lindemans 2009 in the Pinot Noir class.

t1 Oceans Six

Oceans Six tasting at the Bergkelder yesterday

Paul is a conversation magpie, dropping exquisite bombshells with more precision than a CIA predator in Pakistan, in between mouthfuls of lamb’s neck. Like how Professor Willie Esterhuyse, immortalized on celluloid by the American actor William Hurt in the end-of-Apartheid docuthriller Endgame, on the farm recently, remarked on several inaccuracies in the filmic treatment of his remarkable friendship with Thabo Mbeki which did so much to ensure a peaceful political transition in SA. Like how he’s portrayed wearing bowties, which made me think of the plumage of a Grand Old Fogey [GoF] of SA wine.

Endgame is a British retelling of a fascinating chapter of recent SA history, which reminded me of another GoF, this one definitely not a bowtie Bacchus. Approached for input into the history of SA wine being written by e-mail by a leading aesthete luvvie (a real gejaag na wind as they say in the Boland, as the author is deeply disliked in some historic circles) if the recent history of SA wine is worth recording, I realized our fellow consumer panelist Tinus van Niekerk is the man to do it when Two Oceans cellarmaster Michael Bucholz emerged at the end of the tasting with a copy of Tinus’ Wine Appreciation, published three decades ago. Never mind evil succeeding if good men do nothing, I’m terrified of mediocrity and mendacity (to quote Tennessee Williams’ Big Daddy) drowning us all, like Yellow Tail did.

t2 Oceans Six

Tinus van Niekerk

Lovers of schnapps should keep a weather eye peeled for Paul’s latest wheeze: pear schnapps, double distilled (like Cognac) from pear wine. 700 bottles were made and I’m trying to persuade him to call it Pear Cluver or if he wants to go fancy, Père Cluver, dedicated to dad and his dad’s friend Willie.