I love rosé wine. I love its colour. I love its soft, fruity flavours. I love its association with happy memories of summer days. I love the fact that you can serve rosé throughout a meal, with meat, fish and dessert and still be adhering to wine etiquette. But most of all I love it because it reminds me of our wedding. I’ve been reflecting on the happy occasion rather a lot lately as it was our anniversary last week and man, what a fabulous day we had.
Neither of us is particularly formal, so I could see no point in doing a huge, traditional formal wedding that would just make us both stressed and miserable. And thanks to my mom, the least interfering mother-of-the-bride ever in creation, we got pretty much everything we wanted. And when I baulked at the price of fresh oysters to snack on, she said: "Listen, you’re only going to do this once, so do it properly. And in the grand scheme of things, what difference will another couple of hundred bucks make 5 years from now?" Mamma – just so you know, you were right, as usual. And so it came to pass that on a beautiful April morning, without a cloud in the sky, I woke up in my HUGE chalet in the beautiful Belvidere Manor in Knysna and sipped champagne and orange juice with my two best friends (my bridesmaids) while my mom brought in my dress and another friend Christelle did my make-up. And at the appointed hour, my dad arrived and walked me along the paved path in front of the chalet, past the swimming pool to where Nick and his best man were waiting in the flower-bedecked gazebo, and where our 60 guests were sitting around the swimming pool. And just like that, with a beautiful service and a reading of Leonard Cohen’s beautiful Dance Me To The End of Love by Paola, we were married.
While we had family photographs taken a few metres from the gazebo in the Manor gardens, guests sipped Pimms cocktails and nibbled on fresh oysters. And later I spread a big white picnic blanket on the grass and we unpacked our picnic lunches (one beautifully appointed basket of hand-made food per couple), uncorked the Rooiberg rosé and feasted. I will remember forever that long sunny afternoon surrounded by everybody that I love, lolling on the blanket sipping wine and dancing barefoot on the grass with my new husband. And later in the afternoon we walked down to the bottom of the Manor grounds, which stretch to the lagoon and its lovely wooden jetty, for more relaxed photographs with friends.
But I digress. In light of our anniversary being so close to the WBW date, I originally wanted to find some Rooiberg rosé to share with you all, but sadly I had no luck finding it in this country. As an alternative, I found a bottle of Flagstone Semaphore 2004 Rose at Oddbins. And one of the reasons that I chose it is not just because it’s South African, but also because it’s made almost entirely of Pinotage grapes. Now there’s something you don’t see every day outside South Africa… a pink PInotage! Flagstone is an interesting lot. They initially set up their winery in the middle of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town – in the Cape Town harbour and miles and miles from where the grapes are grown. But they wanted to try a radically different method of making red wine, involving "cold soaking" the destemmed grapes prior to fermentation and since the best cooling facilities in the country were in Cape Town harbour, that’s where they set up shop. Since 2003 though, all winemaking has moved to their newly-renovated Sir Herbert Baker building near False Bay. The grapes are sourced from four Flagstone Core Growers, but rather than paying growers per ton of grapes, Flagstone pay a monthly rental fee to the farmers for the use of their vineyard land, and they determine vineyard management in conjunction with the growers. The vineyards are therefore managed as if they belonged to Flagstone – an interesting concept in grape sourcing! Whatever they are doing, they seem to be doing it well as their wines have garnered quite a few local awards and even prompted some complimentary words by Jancis Robinson.
Flagstone Semaphore Rosé 2004 (13.5% alc. A blend of 94% Pinotage, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Sauvignon Blanc. £5.49 from Oddbins)
C - The colour needs no explanation – look at the photo above!! Beautiful deep pink – like those roses that are bright pink with just the vaguest hint of orange in their depths. Just lovely. Fyi, the semaphore men on the label are spelling out "Boogie"!
N - Turkish delight, strawberries, stewed apples with hints of butterscotch
P - lovely creamy mouthfeel with lots of fruit (strawberries?) on the palate. Not overwhelmingly sweet though – a nice acid balance to offset the fruit and give it sufficient backbone to stand up to food. A VERY long, caramelly finish. Shows off some of the traditional "boiled sweets" characteristics that Pinotage is meant to have. Delicious and very moreish. Tastes deceptively unalcoholic – could be dangerous!!
The wine paired beautifully with sticky pork chops (an apricot jam, soy and sweet chilli basting sauce, hence the name) and spinach. It’s no shrinking violet of a wine and was complemented by the food rather than overwhelmed by it. I definitely think, what with a long hot summer predicted for Europe, (yeeeehaaaaaa!!) I’ll be stocking up on this one…