Neil Pendock scours the cellar for unexpected presents for family, friends and the famous
Delarey Brugman is a descendent of Generaal Koos de la Rey whose eponymous anthem by Bok van Blerk, the boere umshini wam, may not be played at Loftus Versfeld. Brugman farms in the Banhoek Valley of Stellenbosch, which used to be called Banghoek, he says, until folks dropped the "g" to avoid confusion with Slanghoek, an appellation "of lesser wine quality perception" on the other side of the mountain.
The 2012 Platter sighted wine guide begs to differ and hails the sweet chenin blanc/hanepoot blend made around the corner, Badsberg Badslese 2009 (R195), white wine of the year. It is a consummate sweetie for Granny, excellent in a tall glass over crushed ice. So what if it is older than Platter's best red, a 2010 Chamonix Pinot Noir Reserve (R220), a real cradle-snatcher and a red wine for friends who prefer whites.
Banghoek, with a "g", is home tocabernet franc from two old bangers: Oldenburg 2008 (R125) and Rainbow's End 2009 (R120). The former is made by the grandson of another general, Ken van der Spuy, who founded the SA Air Force and so is appropriate for plane spotters or pilots. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow turns out to be a bottle of franc and makes a great present for Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who called us a rainbow nation.
If, like Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, president of the grande marque champagne house, you "don't like the new-style Bordeaux - the wines are too ripe and lack a sense of place" - and "prefer subtle wines that speak of terroir", try the 2009 First Verse (R250) made by Chris Keet. A blend of the five traditional grapes of Bordeaux with cabernet franc in the lead, it is a liquid showcase of the best vineyards of Stellenbosch.
Turning to whites, I wonder if Constantia is collapsing? The valley lost two winemakers in November: Karl Lambour hiked out of Constantia Glen to Franschhoek while Adam Mason upsticksed from Klein Constantia to Mulderbosch. But don't write off SA's first appellation quite yet as the Steenberg 2011 sauvignon blanc (R95) is variations on a theme of grapefruit. A great present for Johann Rupert, who hates the high acids which often spoil SA's favourite white cultivar.
Or perhaps he had the same experience as seigneur of Rust en Vrede, Jean Engelbrecht, who cured the gout in his big toe by switching from sauvignon to chenin blanc. He now even makes his own called Donkiesbaai Steen 2011 (R200) from old bush-vine chenin grown high up the Piekenierskloof. A great present for acid-riddled aunts.
Any hairy sporrans of ye ken may be gifted a single malt distilled in Wellington. Vasco da Gama was the first European navigator to reach India and he is commemorated in a smart single malt from Three Ships (R260) that comes in a nifty tin can.
Da Gama is buried in Gothic glory in the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon, where those toothsome treats, pasteis de nata, were invented. Sublime with Badsberg Badslese.