Ho Ho Ho! Neil Pendock dons a seasonal baggy red duffle coat, dyes his beard and ‘tache white and saddles up Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolf to deliver Santa’s Secret Cellar: ten wines for festive cheers.
1. Stellenrust Timeless 2007: a Zen interpretation of a Bordeaux blend from the Bottelary Hills. Winemaker Tertius Boshoff has mastered the art of one hand clapping and uses the other to make this balanced mélange of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc with Merlot. R120 from the farm 021 880 2283.
2. Snow Mountain Pinot Noir 2009: this subtle and elegant boere Burgundy from the snowy Agter Witzenberg above Tulbagh completely wrong footed local Pinot pundits who chickened out from giving this elegant epiphany the full five stars it deserves. Alas no pimentos in this one, Mr. Fridjhon! R120 from producer Nabygelegen 021 873 7534.
3. De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc 2009: Chenin with a Gallic je ne sais quoi. From the label, which looks like those frilly fin de siècle knickers of La Goulue at the Moulin Rouge, to the rich and oaky flavours in a glass, this wine oozes class and French finesse. R160 from De Morgenzon 021 881 3030.
4. Chateau Libertas 2009: cheap as chips and even more prolific as it’s currently discounted down to R19.99 by the Pick ‘n Pay supermarket chain. Do not try BYO at the One&Only with a case.
5. Reyneke Chenin Blanc 2008: a biodynamic beauty made by a humble hunk who trousered the trophy at the recent Nedbank Green Awards. How strange to see banksters rewarding sustainable and ethical winemaking: sign ‘o the times? R90 from Reyneke Wines 021 881 3517.
6.Ondine Sauvignon Blanc 2009: a Darling benchmark for this grassy green varietal with seaweed, ozone and Cape gooseberries galore. Everyone misreads Ondine as “online” which is quite à propos as the flavours are certainly broadband. R60 from producer Ormonde 022 492 3540.
7. Allée Bleue Rosé 2010: a rara avis indeed – a wine made from 100% Franschhoek grapes. Liquid confirmation that French Corner is more than Disneyland for Dionysus but can deliver the goods as well. R32 from Allée Bleue 021 874 1021.
8. Uitkyk Carlonet 2007: a brief glimpse of the glories of traditional Simonsberg Cabernet before the appellation was hijacked by expensive Australian-inspired consultants and their mantra of “physiological ripeness” which pushed up alcohols and prices. R80 from Uitkyk 021 884 4416.
9. Nederburg Winemaker’s Reserve Riesling 2010: a steely Riesling for acid queens and Teutonic terroiristes who enjoy the finesse and focus of white made from the great cultivar of the Rhine. R45 from Nederburg 021 862 3104.
10. Thelema Sauvignon Blanc 2010: a benchmark white made by Gyles Webb at the crest of the Helshoogte Pass between Stellenbosch and the chi-chi boutique producers of Ban Hoek. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? asked Edward Albee. Who’s not? asks Gyles. R70 from Thelema Mountain Vineyards 021 885 1924.