WINE: Michelin chef launches Invictus wine, no rugby ties

dsc_0005.jpg To diehard rugby fans, the movie Invictus did a disservice to South Africa’s rugby history. It also made light of the complex themes playing out in John Carlin’s excellent book Playing the Enemy. Invictus may have worked as a feelgood Madiba movie, but allowing Clint Eastwood to direct a storyline about a sport he didn’t understand was guaranteed to flop. Imagine if a South African director tackled a football movie?

The movie came to mind when I tasted one of two maiden flagship reds released at Druk my Niet’s winery launch today. Named Invictus, the 2009 Merlot-dominated blend includes 25% Cab Sauv and 23% Cab Franc. Winemaker Abraham de Klerk reckons he can be “arrogant enough” to push towards a Pomerol style with his Merlot-dominated blend, stating with a R180 price tag that Merlot can thrive in a hot Paarl climate.

The name Invictus? The Latin reference to a “new and forthcoming” wine. Apparently the owners considered ‘impetus’ but realised it was a little close to ‘impotent’. Not a healthy association for a new cellar trying to establish a reputation. Invictus 2009 is an impressive wine with impressive fruit that should reward a couple of years ageing. It hit the spot with velvety braised angus beef shoulder partnering creamy celeriac puree and an Invictus wine jus, with sweet glazed baby onions. The chef behind this dish was no slouch. A friend of the German owners, Andreas Mayer flew out from Austria for the event. He has two Michelin stars at Mayer restaurant in Schloss Prilau, and an eccentric bent for custom-made red snakeskin shoes.

dsc_0008.jpg Druk My Niet also makes an unusual Tannat-based wine, which you don’t often find in SA. Chateau Montus in Madiran in Southern France is probably the best-known lable from this robust variety, and they recommend 10 years of bottle time to settle the grape’s harsh tannins. Druk My Niet won’t be able to wait that long, but the 2009 vintage of T3 (R280) looks promising, comprising equal quantities of Wellington Tannat fruit, plus the farm’s own Tempranillo and Tinta Amarella grapes. Partnering on the plate, Mayer’s European-styled grilled, skinless duck breast with pears and - as you’d expect from an Austrian - red cabbage and a lemony Topfen dumpling.

The winery name may be a mouthful, but watch these wines deliver mouth-pleasing results in vintages to come.

DRUK MY NIET, restored historic farm on lovely Du Toitskloof slopes, halfway between Paarl and Wellington. Tel 021 868 2393, DMN wines.