Living in South Africa has many advantages: the weather, the nice people, the lack of Gordon Brown, the amazing scenery and – especially for us folk down in the Western Cape – the easy access to some great wine.
I know you can get South African wine in the UK as well, but let me make this abundantly clear: there is the South African wine that gets exported to the UK for sale in Tesco, Asda and Thresher and there is the South African wine that we keep here for ourselves.
Sadly, there seems to be a new trend developing: to try and sell those commercially-named “export” wines over here, presumably on the grounds that if it’s good enough for Tesco, it’s good enough for the South African public. And we’re more used to the easy to understand wine nomenclature of <vineyard> <cultivar>, we’re starting to see ridiculous brand names like Railroad Red and Tall Horse appearing on the supermarket shelves of Constantia Pick n Pay – usually in the household cleaners and solvents aisles.
Step forward Flagstone Longitude. I’m not sure where it came from, but it ended up in our kitchen and it bears all the hallmarks of one of those “wines for over there”: Silly name, absence of any named vineyard, importer in Guildford on the back and that all important management style bullshit for people to read at their London dinner parties and nod pseudo-sagely.
Effortless access to masses of information and penetrating technology characterise our modern life. Yet, the more time-saving devices, the less time we seem to have. The more accurate our satellite navigation, the less we know of our origin… [etc etc etc… continues for another twenty minutes without actually making any reference whatsoever to wine.]
Oh do [shut up]*.
Flagstone Longitude is a red blend. For the novices among us, that means that there is more than one variety of grape in there. No problem with that, some of my favourite wines are red blends, especially the “Big Reds”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot. I have to say though, most of my favourites tend to have two or three grapes in there, rather than the… er… eight in here:
That’s: Cabernet Sauvignon 53%, Shiraz 31%, Tannat 6%, Malbec 5%, Petit Verdot 2%, Cabernet Franc 1%, Pinotage 1%, Merlot 1%. Wow.
Strangely reminiscent of our recent election results, with the leading cultivar just failing to secure a two-thirds majority thanks to Shiraz’s last-ditch “Stop Cab Sauv” campaign.
Presumably, those dinner party guests in Hampstead will muse over the unbelievable skill of the vintner in adjusting the delicate balance of the blend by adding subtle “1%” touches of Merlot and Pinotage. Ja right.
Just so you know (because we know) you’re drinking our leftovers. Enjoy!
* careful and sensible self-censorship in case my mother reads this.