A fine roast chicken deserves a fine red wine. My roast chook was damn fine. Fresh herbs, garlic and butter stuffed under the skin, lemon in the belly, streaky bacon draped on top and all surrounded by a ratatouille of veges.
So what red to choose?
It seems no Cape wine region has avoided the terror of fire this season. It’s been a long, dry summer, the fynbos and undergrowth tinder dry; fire was inevitable, necessary even to allow regeneration of the fynbos, a process which most profitably occurs every 15 years or so.
It is exactly 15 years since the last major fire along the southern part of the Peninsula and across the Simonsberg (one area spared this year, for which all on these slopes must be profoundly thankful, given the general excellence of the vintage). I covered these 2000 fires for the fledgling wine.co.za website; looking back at my reports I’m surprised by how much crop was lost and permanent damage done to vineyards: 20% crop loss at Delheim, 10ha burnt on Kanonkop, 22ha on Uitkyk, 12ha on Lievland; some of these vineyards were wiped out, others recovered. In one report, Kanonkop’s Johan Krige, wouldn’t commit himself to any predictions ‘I do know that we’ve permanently lost six of the ten hectares burnt; we’ll need another two to three months to find out how much of the rest has survived and another month to see the effect on the ripening of the vines that escaped unscathed.’ On one score, Krige is adamant; `There is nothing, but nothing we could have done different in the face of that wind; the fire was impossible to stop.’
It probably wasn’t pure coincidence that my eye was drawn to the Kanonkop bin when I went in the cellar. Perfect, there were two bottles of 2000 Paul Sauer; one removed for the chicken – the other, well let’s see how this first goes down.
Remarkable; given the hot vintage – both thanks to weather and fire – this is a fine wine, a calm wine, its concentration of sweet fruit holding it together, the tannins being fully melded. Now just look at that back label, optimum drinking window extends just beyond 2014 (possibly because of space?) but it’s spot on. Yes, it’s drinking beautifully now, but I don’t see further improvement. But there won’t be so many Cape reds of that era that would give such pleasure after 15 years.
Game, lamb and pork? You can add a damn fine chook to that list, Kanonkop, a wonderful partner to your damn fine wine!