(Guest blog by Muriel of www.salma-gundi.blogspot.com)
‘Well, this won’t do at all.’
That’s what we say every time we open a bottle of wine that isn’t Dean’s.
‘We’ is a quite small, admittedly rather odd, selection of friends, thrown together by dint of where we live, and staying together because we really love each other. ‘We’ are an Afrikaans architect-turned-web-designer (gay, mad, and with the faintest touch of what older generations used to call ‘the tar brush’); a sharp and elegant ex-city girl of Hungarian heritage who does interior architecture (beautiful and sometimes just a touch scary – her, and probably her architecture too); me; and Dean. And sometimes ‘we’ are supplemented by other lovely valley inhabitants.
I met Dean several years ago when I was asked to provide food for a party I didn’t really want to go to. I arrived with my pot (of chicken a la king? chilli con carne? lentil stew?), dumped it in the kitchen, and went outside to sit on the verandah and drink a glass of wine. The next minute, to my delight, in walked a man with stature, attitude and a wide smile.
He saved me at that party, and he’s been saving me in various ways ever since.
So his wine, for me, is very personal.
This isn’t always a good thing. I have high expectations of those I trust. As misguided as this occasionally turns out to be, I genuinely expect passion, intelligence, sensitivity and brilliance in all my loved ones do, whether it’s changing a washer in a tap or designing a store or creating a website or writing an essay or, hey, walking the dogs.
When Dean started making wine, although he told us that was what he was doing, we all went, ‘Ja, okay.’ And opened another bottle of red blend.
And when he vanished off to… well, wherever he went around harvest time, and came home sweaty and triumphant, we said, ‘Hon, do us a favour, hop in the shower!’ and opened another bottle of trusty red blend.
And when he brought us samples of the wine that was in the barrels, we tasted it and raised our eyebrows and said, ‘Lekker, hey,’ and opened another bottle of tried-and-tested red blend.
And when he brought home the first few bottles of his Southern Constellation, and lovingly poured them out and said, ‘Okay, guys, what do you think?’, we said, ‘Listen, we’ve been drinking this red blend for… Hang on. What’s this?’
And – long story short – we’ve never looked back.
When I say ‘this isn’t always a good thing’ about wine being personal, Dean’s wine was obviously going to come in for a hammering. We weren’t going to give Dean’s wine the thumbs-up just because it was, well, Dean’s. We were going to taste and breathe and snort and criticise to our hearts’ content. Obviously.
Only, we couldn’t. Dean’s wine was perfect. Perfect. We who had been drinking various red blends (local and otherwise – we haven’t always lived in this little community; some of us could even be said to have been around the block a few times) for years were entirely, utterly, thoroughly, resoundingly spoilt by Dean’s wine. For ever more.
So now, when on those very rare occasions we do open a bottle of red blend that isn’t Dean’s – because one has to keep testing the water, doesn’t one? – we inevitably very quickly push it aside and say, ‘Well, this won’t do at all.’
Dean’s wine is exactly, precisely, like Dean: it’s accessible but not slutty; it’s smooth without being sleazy; it’s balanced but never boring; it’s friendly but very complex; it has hidden depths (by the third bottle, shared with friends, you’ll be rewarded by finding it); it’s genuine in all the ways you want something you love to be genuine; it’s modest, but not falsely so; you always – and I mean always – want more of it; and in the morning, you never regret a single sip.
I have a truly blessed life that includes things like friends who not only don’t mind that I like ABBA but actually encourage me to dance to ‘Waterloo’, an eclectic wardrobe, zippy kids, a wealth of pets, bizarre lovers who usually turn up specifically when I need them, a house big enough to be a burden, and a home in a spot so astonishingly beautiful that every time I come back to it I breathe a sigh of relief. But perhaps my biggest blessing is Dean.
Look, I’d still love him as much if he didn’t come with Southern Constellation. But it helps.
Contributed by Muriel (www.salma-gundi.blogspot.com)
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