|Still, Christmas is Christmas and it deserves some special drinking to match the festive – and copious – fare I am pleased to see is just as traditional here. Actually, my favourite Christmas memory starts the night before. The tiny English village where I used to live always celebrated with midnight Mass in the 13th Century Church and I fondly remember the warmth and spirituality of hymns and thanksgiving followed by hot mince pies and the vicar’s own Sherry( or mulled wine). I doubt it was an Almacenista, but it made us feel warm, charitable and closer to God and made the 1a.m. walk back through the village that much easier. New country, new wines, so here is my wish list for this year.
The morning would begin with Simonsig’s 2005 Cuveé Royale MCC, and I probably wouldn’t spoil it with food, unless Heston in the kitchen could provide something light and savoury. I’m with Noel Coward on this one,"why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? doesn't everyone?" The Simonsig offers that purity and depth to properly wake me up. It should also keep Simphiwe Dana’s throat nicely lubricated as she sings softly in the background.
Then, as the main meal could be hours away, there will obviously have to be something to sustain me; a 2009 Riesling from Klein Constantia or the delicate off dry 2009 Rhine Riesling from De Wetshof, or even the fabulous Cape Tawny from Boplaas – chilled of course. The Rieslings are delicate and silky and not overly alcoholic and the Boplaas, more alcoholic, yes, but this is unnoticed among its nutty and spicy melange of delicious Christmassy flavours. Or all three perhaps, well, it is Christmas and I can appease my conscience by nibbling on Heston’s party food.
The main meal, always roasted meat for me (the thought of duck or pheasant has me salivating now) is cause for some ultimate drinking. A starter would be matched with a white, but a ‘big’ white; Ken Forrester’s FMC Chenin Blanc from 2006, rich, complex and lingering, or Eben Sadie’s scrumptious and profound Palladius from 2009 and then the meat course would have the ideal Bordeaux blend to start with, the 2009 DeToren Fusion V would tick the box. The 2009 was full of dark, brooding cassis and ripe fruit, silky tannins and layers of flavours gradually unfolding. Then I’d want something really substantial and it doesn’t get any more substantial for me than the 2009 Single Vineyard Syrah from Rust en Vrede. I wrote at the time, ‘everything a wine should be, opaque, subtle oak, intense, layered flavours, rich, complex, with ripe fruit. Stunning’. It is my wine of the year and I must thank Stefan from Cybercellar.com for making my year by going to ridiculous lengths to get me some and allowing me to die happy.
Desert would be compulsory as I have wines to match, so on with Paul Cluver’s 2011 Noble Late Harvest Riesling, so perfect it is Platter’s ‘White Wine of the Year’ and I agree. Who cares what you eat it with, but crème caramel sounds just right. To push the boat out even further, I could be tempted by Mullineux’s hedonistic 2011 Straw Wine or the same (but 2010) from Goede Hoop Estate, both should provide the ultimate ending. To say they are sweet doesn’t do them justice, they combine more than 250g of sugar sweetness with so many seductive flavours, apricot, almonds, baked apple, honey that the overall experience is sheer opulence and neither leaves me feeling sticky or overblown.
A short recovery period would then be called for in front of ‘The Great Escape’ on for the eighteenth time. Teatime, something light, you cry, so open Springfield’s delicious Wild Yeast Chardonnay from 2009, not as rich as their ‘Méthode Ancienne’, perhaps, but I love it. And it has enough fruit and depth to bolster you through the tunnelling. Next, Newton Johnson’s Family Vineyards Pinot Noir, the 2008, ‘09 or ‘10, they are all sensational. To me, this is as perfumed and textured as Pinot Noir can get. By now even “The Great Escape’ looks exciting.
Another recovery period, then something silky, smooth and contemplative to end the day. A wine which surprised me in its class, unfolding flavours and elegance and I can sink into the chair with; Devonair’s Cabernet Sauvignon Family Reserve from 2006. A wine as beautiful as it is unknown and for that I am very grateful. A perfect match for unwinding with family or friends or taking time to consider the significance of the day for millions of people and taking stock of the truly important and spiritual things in life. Does that equate with enjoying copious amounts of wine? Well, my God is one of enjoyment and simple pleasure (but not drunkenness) and His son was accused of being a “winebibber” (Luke 7:33-34) who without prompting turned water into ‘choice wine’ (John 2:1-11)and this – note – was not a miracle, but a ‘Sign’. You might want to ponder that with a glass of De Krans decadent and powerful 2009 Cape Vintage Reserve, and who can blame you.
Ten wines. I want to make it twenty as there should be room for other sensational favourites, such as Graham Beck’s Rhona Muscadel, Camberley’s Sparkling Shiraz, Remhootge’s Reserve Merlot or a Cabernet from Boekenhoutskloof. Still, tomorrow is Goodwill Day, another reason to celebrate, and then there is New Year….
Too much wine, you say? Alone, yes, but a glass of each would suffice over a twelve hour period and anyway, shared amongst Heston, Simphiwe and the attending Victoria’s Secret models the wines wouldn’t go far. I did say it was the perfect Christmas.