Exactly six months ago today I was finding my seat on the KLM flight from Cape Town to Amsterdam, on my way home from the greatest adventure of my life. I settled in, put on my headphones, and decided to take my mind off my sadness by putting on an in-flight movie.
"Invictus! I still haven't seen it! Perfect!" I thought. Yup, I chose an uplifting drama about South African politics starring Morgan Freeman. Brilliant, Jules. Before the opening credits were finished I was crying my eyes out. A sweet South African lady sitting next to me gave a sympathetic glance. "Did you fall in love in South Africa, dear?"
I sniffed. "No – I fell in love with South Africa." She tsked compassionately. "Don't worry. You'll be back."
And she was right. I'm absolutely thrilled to have been invited to spend two weeks in Stellenbosch in March working the 2011 harvest at De Toren! One of the most renowned and cutting-edge farms in South Africa, De Toren produces the acclaimed Fusion V and Fusion Z Bordeaux blends. Working with winemaker Albie Koch is literally a dream come true for me. Check out the winery here.
I plan to learn as much as I can, drink as much as I can, and get my ass kicked as much as I can just like
last year – except I'm cramming it all into two weeks. In the meantime, the already-great South African wine selection at my workplace is getting better all the time. We just picked up this beauty: Rustenberg 2009 Stellenbosch Chardonnay, one of the best SA whites available in the U.S.
Having tried the 2008 in Stellenbosch, I brought home a bottle of this as soon as Linda, a Lauber saleswoman and my SA wine BFF at work, tasted us on it. The fruit on the nose is absolutely gorgeous, with peach and white plum leading the way and a rich buttery chord but not a lot of oak. Voluptuous and alive on the palate, wave after wave of chin-drenching fruit, hazelnut and creaminess make for a simply delicious finish. Somehow this wine is both incredibly rich and weightless, a great balancing act that left me wanting more with every sip. With butternut squash ravioli topped with toasted sage and hazelnuts, this made for a memorable wine night and a great celebration of my good news.
Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2009
Wine of Origin: Stellenbosch
Importer: Cape Classics