The A-Listers

SOCIALS | Experiencing wine heaven on earth, dressed in chinos

23 December 2018 - 00:00


It's known as the southernmost wine farm in Africa, an estate just 3km from the Atlantic Ocean in the Western Cape's postcard-pretty Hemel en Aarde valley.
And on a bright and sparkly Thursday afternoon the Hamilton Russell wine estate, just outside Hermanus, opened its doors for its annual invitation-only lunch to toast the season.
This time, the occasion also marked the chance to savour the estate's first "vertical" of its famed chardonnay - a three-bottle wooden case containing the 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintages.
The lunch drew the sort of set whose ladies turn up in floral tea dresses while the men sport crisp white shirts, chinos and Gucci loafers, often topped off with a Panama hat.
Arriving at Braemar House on the estate, I am greeted by the man of the manor, Anthony Hamilton Russell, whose late father Tim, a former ad exec, had the novel idea of growing vines so close to the coast in the 1970s.
Anthony plants a glass of chardonnay in my hand and points out that his spot in the sun is "a bit more rustic than Stellenbosch" as I greet his gorgeous wife, Olive, who is in an ethereal white shift.
I marvel at the family's real fir Christmas tree with baubles fashioned from cork cut-outs in the shape of wine bottles, as guests trickle in.
Folk like Bina Genovese of art auctioneers Strauss & Co and businessman Mark Wilcox with his wife Erika who, would you believe, can brag that none other than John Legend sang at their wedding a few years ago.
Mala Bryan, the statuesque model, arrives on the arm of her partner, restaurant guru Giorgio Nava. It's less than a week since Mala opened her own eatery, Kwéyòl, which draws on her Caribbean heritage. The sexiest chef in Cape Town tells me she is flying to Saint Lucia that evening to source spices for new dishes.
Not long afterwards I greet one of the many Joburgers who descend on Cape Town for "the season".
That's Taryn Louch, who acquaints herself with the day's most persistent gate-crasher: a 101-year-old tortoise that lives on the property and has to be continually prevented from slipping into the house.
Pulling up in a luxury SUV is the permanently tanned Nicky van der Walt, leggy wife Lee-Ann Liebenberg and their entourage, which includes perfume king Charles Priebatsch and his niece Katherine, USN sports nutrition billionaire Albé Geldenhuys and Lady Kitty Spencer.
Then it's down the stairs of the Cape Dutch house and into the garden where Anthony welcomes us, saying: "Wine to me is something slightly spiritual in its ability to communicate everything that happens at a certain place and time in a beautiful way, in a glass."
Guests, including wine lovers Mutle and Baba Mogase, and Johann Krige, whose Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015 scored a prestigious nod from respected wine critic Tim Atkin earlier this year, could only agree.
I spot former Olympian Annette Cowley-Nel, whose twin 16-year-old daughters, Olivia and Georgie, broke the South African senior record for the 4x60m freestyle relay in Gaborone the week before.
The afternoon ends at long tables where we tuck into an al fresco feast by award-winning chef Bertus Basson of Overture fame.
Think yellowtail in yuzu dressing with avocado and cucumber, ricotta balls in a Romesco sauce, chicken pieces seasoned by that ultra-trendy duo of chimichurri and aioli, and succulent beef tagliata drizzled with olive oil with parmesan-dusted capers.

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