I’m studying for a degree in comparative religious studies. Comparative religious studies – not Christian theology. People ask me why and I always say “for fun”, but sometimes it’s really not fun. It wasn’t much fun the week that I had to write a research report on Atheism, because people can be so hateful when it comes to religious beliefs and non-beliefs and I was just grumpy about being lumped into the category of human being with this intolerance going on in the world. So I suggested to Analize that week that we find a wine estate with a religious connotation in the name. Just for fun.
We set off that Sunday with no plan at all. We did want to see flowers since it was the season and we’d heard they were out so we decided on the general direction of the Overberg. We stopped for a quick pic of the flowers and Analize commented that the word for “very quick” in Hawaiian is “wiki”, so we called it a wikipicstop. For some reason, perhaps we were chatting a lot, we drove past wine farm after wine farm without stopping. Eventually I said to Analize “I need wine. I really need wine now!”. Remember, I was grumpy. So I pulled into the very next farm we came to. I couldn’t see the name of the farm because the sign was facing in the opposite direction, but I saw that wine barrel sign that we love so much and that was reason enough. The wine farm was Creation. Creation is next to a wine farm called Mount Babylon and yet another farm called Jacob’s Vineyard. Who needs GPS when you have serendipity… some might say synchronicity? Certainly a barrel load of irony.
We drove in and this fellow winer..wino? winee? drove up right behind me and wanted me to stop taking photos and laughing and move my car, because he needed wine right now, apparently. I stopped laughing and let him pass, and then I saw a sign… an actual sign… that said “beware of the tractor”. For some reason that infuriated me. It seemed so prescriptive. And so I went on this tirade about nobody telling me what to do and if I want to lie in the road in the path of a tractor it’s my choice. Very grumpy. A little crazy. Clearly I needed wine. Analize was bemused at her usually calm friend having a road rage meltdown in the middle of a vineyard over her right to “death by slow moving agricultural equipment”, but afterwards we thought what a crazy irony it would be if I won the Darwin award for most idiotic demise on a wine farm called Creation.
Creation is a beautiful estate with gorgeous vistas from the tasting area. As we were seated two waitrons swooped with water and crispy rolls with a goats cheese dip, which to be honest made me feel really special. We were offered a choice of tastings. We could taste any four of the pleb range for R40 and then we could taste their premium wines for R20 each. Or taste the premium wines for so much and add this and that and the other. It was wonderful to be given the choice but it felt like a lot of calculating to be done. We were on a budget after all. Our wine tasting guide assured us that he would do “wine maths” for us and we were happy.
Because the Overberg wine farms are within 10 to 15 kms from the sea this region is known for its excellent pinot noir wines. Pinot noir grapes thrive in warmer pockets of cooler areas so the cool sea air flowing through the mountainous Overberg area creates an ideal climate for these thin-skinned grapes. Creation’s flagship “The Art of Pinot Noir” at R875 was certainly special and their 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir provided the lighter bodied wine experience we expect and love from the pinot noir wines in the Overberg. It was the 2015 Sumac Grenache however which proved to be the winner on the day for me. This spicy Grenache wine with hints of sumac, pepper and fruitiness took us by surprise. I actually have sumac in my spice rack, which my mother brought back for me from New Zealand, but I never knew what to make with it before. Now I know. Wine!
After our Creation tasting we stopped for a wikipicinic, because it was too freezing cold to sit and enjoy the view, and headed off to our next farm, which turned out to be Spookfontein. Wine tasting is free, they told us, however their licence allows for only 3 tastings. We said we’d each have two of those, hoping for six tastings. They were not amused. I forget which wines we tasted. They only had three available so there was no choice. We left wikily.
On to Newton Johnson, a family run estate with beautiful views and good wines. I was seduced by their 2014 L’illa with it’s burnt honey taste and bought a bottle of this desert wine for pairing. I’m not a foodie like Analize and can sometimes pair in outrageous ways which makes her pull a face of utter confusion. I could say this sweet wine would go well with a salty cheese such as Danish Kefalotyri and toasted, caramelised walnuts, but I would probably get that face. I’m going to try it and post the face for you to see.
The Day After Chester Died.
Shattering is not something you do only once. You shatter, and then those little pieces shatter more, and you try to pick them up and then you shatter because you see yourself so shattered, and you get trapped in thousands of little, shattered splinters of someone you used to be. It hurts like hell. It breaks you in a million ways, every second of every day. It keeps repeating until those pieces are so small you can never put yourself back together the way you used to be.
You hate, you love, you cry and scream and you take your sleeping pills and tranquilisers and anti-depressants, and still you feel as if you are falling apart. Trauma causes you to go into some kind of an avoidance mode. Avoiding memories. Avoiding places, smells, music, people, anything that reminds you of how much you are hurting. It is okay for a while. Actually, it is more than okay. For some it might be the only way to get through it. It takes a long time for the pain to mellow and soften into something you can look at, let alone start working through.
One of the things I struggled with, was music. I could listen to Koos Kombuis, for some reason. Most other music would just trigger tears, uncontrolled shaking, anxiety, shattering. I walked out of shops because of songs they played over their speakers that I could not hear at that time. I’d switch my radio on and listen to Solid Gold on a Sunday, and switch it off halfway into the first song. Koos was okay. Then there was Linkin Park. I could listen to them, even, or especially, in my avoidance mode, which has not completely ended, even now.
There is something so raw and honest about their lyrics that it felt as if they were my own words. I would listen to a song like Crawling and scream out my pain without saying a word because Chester said it for me. Or I’d listen to In Pieces and manage to ignore every word because it was so close to home I didn’t want to hear it but also didn’t want to switch it off. The things that make you shatter in a particular moment, or keep you from it in another, don’t make sense. It is what it is and you do what you have to do to get through.
And then Chester died. He shattered one time too many, in pieces too small to pick up. I cried that night for the man I didn’t know but knew so well. Or at least the version of him that lived in my mind through his words.
The next day Bev picked me up and we drove out to Elgin. We bought Peregrine pies and we listened to Linkin Park songs on my phone. The first wine stop was Paul Cluver. Their Riesling was a good match with my chicken pie and Bev’s vegetarian spinach and feta pie. However, Bev prefers red wine, and their exceptional Pinot Noir was a wonderful red match. Of course, Peregrine Farmstall has great recipes for their yummy pies, but that doesn’t keep me from making my own pies at home, and finding the perfect wine to pair with it.
Click here for the recipe for Chicken and Butternut Pie.
The colder climate, unwooded Chardonnay is easy to drink and equally easy to pair with many dishes I can think of. It is an all-rounder if you like white wine, and I do! Read more about the wines here.
Next stop Oak Valley. What a serene, beautiful spot. We arrived in the late afternoon when the sunlight fell in soft white wine colours through the gigantic oak trees, and even the squirrels seemed a bit lazy after the day’s work. We found two GS bikes in the parking lot, took some pictures pretending and fantasizing that they were ours, and then went on to fit in the last tasting of the day.
As the sun was setting we drank to Chester, and to last sunsets. Rest in peace, Chester. You helped me with the pieces. I will miss your words and your voice.