Neil Pendock in praise of Big Reds, red wines you won't find on any
supermarket shelf as at over 14% alcohol, they're downright illegal.
"Duck fart" is my unplanned contribution to 'Strine (the language spoken Down Under) according to www.doubletongued.org, an online slang resource. Although, as with saints, the process of becoming Aussie argot is a long and complicated one.
My duck exhalations are currently at the self-flagellating Pope John Paul II stage: "citation recorded as candidate yet to be vetted. The lexical item 'duck fart' has not been substantiated as valid, nor researched to determine how widespread it is, nor investigated to determine its history." At least they don't expect two miracles.
I use the expression as a synonym for the pungent barnyard aromas expelled forcefully by a ripe Shiraz like the excellent Mr. Borio 2010 from Simonsig for which the great dictionary compiler Dr. Johnson might have substituted the more genteel "anatiferous".
But then the good doctor died three years before the First Fleet reached Australia's "fatal shore", so his adjective more properly applies to Syrah, which is what the French call the grape from Persia and an excuse to add R100 to the price for local producers. Something the Malan brothers clearly haven't done in this case, as it sells at their Simonsig cellar door for the most reasonable R66.
My wildlife guide was Ian Wilson, one-time Hell's Angel and connoisseur of all things Tasmanian, who took me wine tasting in the Barossa, heartland of big Aussie reds. "Crackerjack" was another of his, a term that really does sum up the big booming alcohols of those super-ripe style of wines they make in the New World.
But when to drink such Rodney Rude reds like Mr. Borio, who weighs in at 14.5%? Winter is an obvious season, but probably not with the snifferati and spiterati. For wine anoraks are currently in teetotal mode, railing against "moron-strength" alcohol levels. 12.5% Bordeaux is held up as a paragon of virtue. Which some local producers try to achieve by adding water. A reverse wedding at Cana, if you like, and a watersport that used to be illegal, but has recently become Kosher. Pity about the concentration, though.
One local master of the Big Red Bordeaux style is Etienne le Riche, as his name might imply. His recently released 2009 Reserve Cabernet weighs in at 14.5% but is about as far away from ducks on the nose as you can get. Exotic perfume is more like it. So no wonder he launched it at Mosaïc restaurant last month along with the 2009 which costs less than half the price (R370 vs. R160) for ½% less alcohol.
Mosaïc is the canvas on which Chantel Dartnall, most beautiful chef in the land with awesome knife skills, creates some of the most visually appealing dishes in SA. Dominique Hébrard, owner of Château Bellefont-Belcier in Saint-Émilion - whose other winemaking ventures include consulting to Constantia Glen - lists Mosaïc as his favourite restaurant in SA.
Dominique makes a silent yet influential contribution to SA hedonism. Last month he paired Chantel with François Adamski from Le Gabriel restaurant in Bordeaux, who was recently awarded his first Michelin star. A decoration Chantel will surely merit if JP Rossouw buys the Michelin franchise. The pair cooked up a storm, two by two, in the circular cellar at Bellefont-Belcier. Each dish was presented in two halves: SA vs. Bordeaux and wines served will included such big names as Château Angelus, Constantia Glen, Domaine de Chevallier and of course Bellefont-Belcier.
On the piano, jazz pianist Jason Rebello, who looks like a young Billy Joel and who has played with such big names as Sting and Jeff Beck. All this for €250 per punter and all profits to the charity Aquitaine Destination. The Bellefont-Belcier blowout is an example of another kind of big reds, big name reds.