fredag 15 april 2016

South Africa, day 2: A Visit to Reyneke Wines

Back again at my hotel after the Table Mountain Run, I took a quick shower and went out to get some lunch. As expected, but not forecasted, the sky had cleared and dried up all remains of the morning’s light drizzle. Heat was picking up, it was going to be a warm day. This time I walked upwards on Long Street, into Kloof Street, until I reached a small shopping mall with adjacent restaurants. The mall itself – Lifestyle On Kloof – looked quite nice and had a little wine shop that I planned to browse through later. But first lunch.

In the end I settled for a grilled sandwich at Knead Bakery, which must be at the epicentre of hipsterism in Cape Town. The place was crowded with young men with beards and visible tattoos! All laughing, all drinking coffee or fruit juices, all with iPhones and Macbooks… At the table beside me there was this young couple very much in love, but in this particular case the guy looked more like a surfer dude than a proper hipster. The girl, though, looked like a true hipster.

Anyway – I bought some wine in the wine shop and got ready for my three o’clock appointment at Reyneke. I was going to take a taxi, but this time I was going to be prepared. Very unfortunately, but perhaps very good for my economy, I just could not get internet to my iPhone (other than the hotelian wifi of course). I tried all kinds of roaming acceptances, “yes you can read all my private messages, and yes you can get all information to my whereabouts, and yes, take all my pictures for free, and yes take my bio statics and my bank account movements and of course I will pay a truckload of money but PLEASE GIVE ME INTERNET!” But no. So, in order to be fully prepared for the cab ride, which I assumed would take about forty to fifty minutes, I had taken explicit screenshots of where I was going.

Down on Long Street, I approached a nice looking cab and showed the driver a collection of the screenshots. He nodded, “yes I know where that is!” Great. I jumped in, the handle came off when I shut the door. Maybe not that nice after all.

We drove for a few streets, and then all of a sudden he said, “let me see that map again!” I showed him it. “You can’t move it!” “No, it’s because they are screenshots! I don’t have internet on my phone!” “You don’t have internet?” “No!”

So first we had to stop at a little convenience store where he got out and bought some internet for HIS phone. Then – a big bright smile – aha! Now I know where that place is! Splendid.

We got out on the “1,” the National Route no. 1, driving eastward. And just like the day before, it did not take long before we got in serious traffic jam. Friday afternoon, I guess everyone had fled work early and was driving home for dinner and drinks. But slowly, the traffic eased up and about Bellvile it got better. Then we made a right turn on the R300 and then into Kuils River on the R102. Passing through the town, we made a left turn on the M12, or the Polkadraai Road. We were getting there, slowly but steadily. The remaining thing was to find the tiny exit, which was not that easy. And although driving very slowly, we just missed the sign saying Reyneke. But, since traffic was virtually non-existing on this part of the road, the driver put the car in reverse and backed up some 30 metres to the exit. A few turns later up the dirt road, I was there.

Reyneke Farm turned out to be beautifully located on top of a hill with a gorgeous view overlooking the surrounding hills and valleys. Outside, two roosters were roosting for first position. Everywhere I looked wine was planted. I was greeted by L, who showed me into the tasting room where I met with Nuschka, assistant winemaker at Reyneke who was going to lead the tasting. First wine, as always, a savvie.

2015 Reyneke Organic Sauvignon Blanc
“This is our entry level wines, screwcap, more new world style, organic,” Nuschka notes. “It’s more aromatic, typical new world style. For our other wines we use cork, aiming for an elegant, old world style. This wine is 95 percent sauvignon blanc and 5 percent Semillon. You get all the aromatic sauvignon blanc on the nose, the five percent Semillon gives you structure and complexity to the palate. The grapes come from a warmer region, it’s grapes that we buy. It’s too expensive to grow these grapes here at this price level. Soils a bit more fertile. You will pick this up in comparison with our own grown grapes, you will have a tighter, more minerality, more granite soils over here.”

So you have more minerality in your wines?
“Yes, because it is terroir expression. We can really say our wines are terroir. Our soil is healthy, and without the soil being healthy and high carbon, you don’t have microorganisms that make everything available in the soil available to the vine. With more microorganisms and healthy soil, available for the vines, you can pick it up in the wine, on the palate.

Is it important for you to get the terroir expression in your wines?
“Yes, our wines are made in the vineyard, in comparison to other. We try to extract the best from our grapes, nothing really falls out in our wines.  We don’t add acid and we don’t inoculate with certain yeast… like some, having certain yeast for their savvies to get certain character…

Just natural yeast?
“Yes. We use for this range organic certified yeast (that we are allowed to use). But that is actually yeast that was isolated from our vineyard, then manufactured. But originally it came from our vineyard.”

I liked this wine. On the nose, a very typical sauvignon blanc. Very fresh, very light, not too much acid, not packed with exotic fruit. Light, well-balanced, and yet quite mouth-filling. No bitterness, fresh and fruity. 58 Rand. Nuschka sums it up quite accurately by “it is a drinking wine, it is not a thinking wine.”

2015 Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc
“This is grown on the farm. And actually, with the reserve white, it will basically be cornered off sections of the vineyard, in the old all was farmed conventionally, and mixed together, but with the biodynamic the terroir expression started to appear.”

“Just by walking through the vineyard, tasting the grapes to see if they were ready to pick, they started to notice differences, just walking and tasting. The vines for the sauvignon blanc were planted around 1994 – so 20, 22 years old.”

What is the difference between this and the reserve white?
“The reserve is more flinty, more granite, more minerality in comparison to this one. But they are not far from each other. For this wine, some of the fruit we do whole bunch press. But all fruit goes into the cold room over night. For this, we don’t have to use sulphur. So it’s cold, not hot and oxidizing. The juice goes into tank, and then on to another tank, and then slowly warms up. Fermentation kicks in, we transfer the juice to barrel and finish the fermentation in barrel. So all this is happening in barrel, a natural element for the yeast. We don’t think that stainless steel tanks are good for natural yeast. For this wine we’ll use first, second, and third fold barrels. It’s made like the reserve, except we use new barrels for the reserve, and only certain parts of the vineyard that we identified as different. For the reserve, we do 20-30 percent malo. Then stored back in the cold room, staying on the lees, and only after six months we’ll rattle for lees. Tank, cold stabilization, then botteling.”

Great wine! So delicious, such a lovely wine. It has a light touch of the oak, but then waves of citrus, oranges, and… mandarins! I found this wine to have more balance than the first. So complex, and changing. A few minutes later, other scents, other aromas. This would go excellent with food, or as Nuschka observes, “not often you can have a sauvignon blanc with food without it disappearing.”

You mentioned this was not your typical new world sauvignon blanc?
“No, it is not a typical South African sauvignon blanc, that’s why I say that our wines are more old world, European in essence. Like a sancerre… We are in a warmer climate, that is one thing we have a harder time with, but we still have natural acid in our wine, because we have a healthy vineyard. Our soils have healthy pH’s. A lot of these other that make sauvignon blancs, they add tones of acid! We don’t have to add acid. This year has been a hard year though, we didn’t have much rain and it has been very hot. The grapes would ripen, but the acid levels were dropping. So what we did was that we harvested one patch a lot earlier, at 19 brix, and used that for acid. Thus, we had a natural component that we could blend back into our wines. You know, you have to be a bit smart about your winemaking!”

Well, needless to point out, I’m gonna do it anyway: this was difficult to spit.

2015 Reyneke Chenin Blanc
“This is our new chenin, the vines are about 55-60 years old. It is quite a funny looking vineyard, just grown on its own way. But, because of that, we have this wine where the fruit is very concentrated, clusters are small. It’s not light chenin, it’s got complexity, it’s got intensity. We made 2,500 litres of it in a foudre, the other part we did in second and third fold barrels. It stayed on the lees for a year, basically. We took it out in December. Then we did cold stabilization over the holidays in December, and then went into bottles. So, basically, it has just been released. It is a wine that can age. The natural acid that you get with these old vines, this intense acid, sometimes it is too sharp for people, but that is the ageing potential. Lovely with food.”

Quite different from the sauvignon blanc! This was actually a bit more difficult to drink, compared to the sauvignon blanc. Quite different. More of the oak, more of the acidity, still very complex, very powerful.
“Yes. It’s a very powerful wine, exactly. Just bottled recently, it is going to develop, it does actually become more fruity. A wine you would have with food.”

Jumping a bit, but you are biodynamic. The conversion, how long did that take?
“The conversion takes three to four years. It is quite a long process. The first years are hell, because when you do conventional, you do spraying. When converting, you do none of that. Every disease, every insect, everything you could possibly imagine comes into the vineyard in the first year. Then it gets a little better, but it is still chaos… as the vines are putting up their own defenses. The natural predators start to come into the vineyard and the vines… It is actually quite a long time before the balance comes in. It takes three to four years for the conversion, but to get the essence of the grape, vine and the fruit, that takes long time. The potential and what the vines and the fruit can do, really start to come out after eight years. It is a long process, something you need to have patience for. Patience is just a choice that you have to make if you want to make a wine with integrity.”

2014 Organic Shiraz Cabernet
Moving back to the organic range, with purchased organic grapes, the fourth wine is the 2014 Organic Shiraz Cabernet with 51 percent Shiraz, and 49 percent cabernet sauvignon.

You buy the grapes?
“Yes. From a warmer region, more new world style. We call our estate grown Shiraz Syrah. That’s a clear indication we try to make two styles. This wine is put in old barrels, to soften the tannins. It’s quite interesting with this wine because… you smell it, and all you can smell is the Shiraz. Then, when tasting it, on the palate, all you can taste is basically the cab!”

Once again I am presented with a drinking wine and not a thinking wine. On the nose there is no cedar, no cassis. No blueberries either! In the mouth, a bit spicey, peppery… lot of tannins in! Full taste, full bodied. Very short aftertaste. 58 Rand, “made for drinking, we try to make it available and affordable for everyone.”

The grapes that you buy, they have the certificates?
“Yes. They have to have the certificate before we buy. We go there and take leafs and test them. Strict regulations.”

Do you influence them, to be more organic, biodymanic?
“Yes, we help them. There is this movement, and a lot of people come to Johan to get advice on conversions. It’s slow, but it is happening. The biodynamic movement is happening in South Africa, which is great.”

2014 Vinehugger (Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot)
A 50/50 mix, exclusively made for Woolworths. This is clearly a more Bordeaux style wine. It stays about a year in oak barrels, the grapes that do not make Cornerstone class go into making the vinehugger brand. I also found this to be quite good: nice tannins, well-balanced, it fills the mouth.

By the way, you don’t make a dessert wine?
“No, we haven’t got the time, haven’t the area. We do what works here.”

How determine were to plant which grapes? Like, “this plot is excellent for sauvignon blanc, this is excellent for chenin blanc…?”
“Well, you look at the soil, that is quite an important aspect, you look at the slope, north or south or west… what’s the heat, the temperature? Is it hot in the day does it cool down at night? In our case, the wind from False Bay makes a great cooing effect. You can see all the way to Hermanus, the wind comes right over our vineyard. Lovely for the savvies, even for the cabs. Without that, we would just have heat, and the wines would be more jammier and baked. So that cooling effect is great. We could not grow pinot noir here, we don’t have the warm days and very cool nights, and we don’t have clay in our soils, we have more granite. So, you have to look at many aspects. Any new plants we look more at what fits here, which is in line with being biodynamic. Understand what the vine needs. Soil is very important.”

2014 Reyneke Syrah
“2013 sold out very quickly. We cool our fruit and do fermentation in concrete tanks. 30-35 percent whole bunch, foot stepped. We keep some of stems in. The rest will be destemmed. We keep it at 17-18 degrees, the juice stays there until the natural ferment starts, cold macererations. We don’t do a lot of pump overs, but we do two pump overs a day. We have small berries and small branches, so we don’t have do get much extraction. Two pump overs a day give us enough extraction. This wine still needs to develop, still young.”

This was my favourite wine of the day. It had such intensity, so full of flavours, such balance. Nothing sticking out. Lite the sauvignon blanc, it just kept developing and developing. I would like to keep some bottles for a few years, see how they will end up. Also, just drink the wine over a few days, see what happens. “A book wine,” Nuschka says. I could not agree more.

2013 Reyneke Cornerstone
“The cornerstone of this vineyard is the labourers, the ones picking in the heat, working when it’s cold with pruning, throughout the year, with blood and sweat making the wine. This wine is basically for them. Proceeds of this wine goes into a trust, and once they have worked here for ten years, Johan will go and by them a house, or they can use it for education, for them or for their children. Most of the guys that we have are complete illiterate. Within a generation, you have improved. You are farming for the future. Not just for Mother Nature but for the integrity of these people.”

The 2013 Reyneke Cornerstone is a Bordeaux style blend, 43 percent cabernet franc, 32 percent merlot, the rest cabernet sauvignon. A predominantly cab fronc wine, unusual for South Africa. It is a very aromatic wine, much expression. Lovely, great wine! A wine on its own, why compare with Bordeaux?

The tasting concludes with a straight merlot from the vinehugger collection, which was quite nice. Before heading back to Cape Town, I ask Nuschka some additional questions:

Mildew and so on… what diseases do you get here in South Africa?
“We get all – powdery mildew, downy mildew… downy mildew quite a lot. Being biodynamic we try other ways… obviously the vine is more capable of dealing with these… they have deeper, broader spectrum of roots. We use Trichoderma, which is a natural fungus that eats off all the other funguses, in fact its quite effective!

Copper & Sulphur?
“We sprayed only once this season. How much copper? Gosh, I don’t know! Isn’t that bad… this season only once.”

Any “all the other ones had to… we didn’t?”
“We don’t have to add acid. Usually, pH is very high in South Africa. We struggle with our acid in our grapes. But being biodynamic, the pH has improved. We have high carbon, better natural acid in our grapes. Our wine is made in the vineyard.”

And what about composts? And the compounds?
“Yes. We try to be as much self-sustainable as possible. We don’t have to buy compost or anything. We use all the grape skins that we use… so many minerals in them that you can put back into the compost, back into the soil. We use all.”

What’s the perception of eco-wines in South Africa?
“Previously, they were considered not to taste good but I think interest is growing!”

And the sowing and planting calendar? You use it?

Two hours later I get into the taxi again and we drove back to Cape Town. It had been a great visit, a visit I had wanted to do for quite some time. Many, many thanks Nuschka and Reyneke for a very interesting visit! Thank you so much.

fredag 1 april 2016

South Africa, Day 2: A Table Mountain Run with Run Cape Town

Although I am not a typical athlete, and I certainly do not have an athlete’s body, I do love to exercise. I love running, I love weight-lifting, I love being outdoors and doing long healthy walks. I love cycling – when I lived in Helsingborg I used to do 60 kilometre evening tours to stay in shape. Twice I have completed the Vätternrundan, a 300 kilometre bike challenge around Lake Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake. Second time under 13 hours… Recently I have picked up golfing again, after twenty years of “wilderness wandering.” The plan this summer is to push my handicap below 20.

So, after having booked the wine tour with BKWine, I decided that this should be a healthy trip with elements of exercise. Maybe not going to the gym, but I was definitely going to bring my running shoes with me, and doing morning or afternoon runs. But where? Just put on the shoes and run on the streets of Cape Town? What about Lion’s Head, or Signal Hill? Or on the western side of Cape Town, passing the soccer stadium and down to Sea Point? How safe is it?

Firstly, I started googling for marked trails on Signal Hill and around that area. Some good routes came up, but I was not clear on how well they were marked once there. And I was not that keen on running by myself. However, reoccurring among my googlings, there was this company called Run Cape Town that seemed to be appearing almost top in every search. But I was not interested in sightseeing! I was looking for a good run!

But slowly and steadily, I started looking more and more at this company and their trail runs. Maybe this was what I was looking for? A good run, with guide, for just 500 Rands? In the end, I knew – this was it! Among all the runs that they had, their Table Mountain run seemed the most interesting one. So it had to be that one. But when? Since I was going to The Pot Luck Club on Thursday, and the organized wine tour started on Saturday, it had to be on Friday. Preferably in the morning, before it got too hot and so I had time to do other things during the day. Therefore, I booked Friday, and 8 o’clock! I got a confirmation e-mail directly and a few days before the run. So everything was organized before my arrival.

On the morning of the run, I was feeling surprisingly fresh, considering I had been to the Pot Luck Club the night before. A few minutes before 8 o’clock I was picked up by my guide, Philippa, at my hotel, and we drove off to a place just prior to the cable car station on the Table Mountain. The weather was fairly moisturish, a light drizzle had just passed away. But temperatures were climbing. We had a lovely chat on the way up, this was going to be great!

The run started on the north-western point of the Table Mountain, not on top of the mountain but just below. The mountain is flat at the top, then it makes a vertical drop, then just where the vertical part stops, there is a contour path. On that, we ran. So from the north-western part, all the way east, passing under the cable car lines, passing Patterklip Gorge, and almost to Devils’ Peak. Then down to the road, passing the cable car station, and back to the car.

This was definitely one of the highlights of my WINE tour to South Africa. Running on this natural wonder, with a magnificent view of the city and the beautiful nature surrounding it, it was really a profound experience. It was so quiet, so peaceful, and the smell – it reminded me of hiking in the northern Swedish mountains!

So, if you are in Cape Town and looking for a good run, I am really recommending a run with Run Cape Town, especially the Table Mountain Run! Enough talk, here are some more pictures:

Many thanks!!! When I go back, I'm doing more runs! 

Pictures no. 1-3 and 11-15, copyright Run Cape Town, used with permission.

P.S. next blog post will be in one week's time, then we will visit Reyneke

torsdag 31 mars 2016

South Africa, Day 1: The Pot Luck Club

Twelve hours later I stumbled out of the aircraft, filling my lungs with warm, dry, South African air. It felt really good to be back in Africa, back in South Africa, and back again in Cape Town. I got down on the tarmac, proceeded through the immigration check point, answered “pleasure” with a big smile instead of “business” which I did last time, and went to collect my checked baggage. Ahhh this was going to be gooood!!!

However, whilst standing there in my dreams, waiting for the conveyor belt to start pouring out luggage, a small and very cute little lapdog had sneaked up on me and was sniffing heavily at my hand baggage. My first thoughts were, “well aren’t you the cutest thing!” But then I saw the tiny leash, and then a rather large airport security personnel appeared from nowhere, asking me rather harshly, “got any fruit in there?”

Slightly taken aback I answered honestly, “Yes, at least three bananas!” I was going to eat them on the plane but had forgotten all about them. The rather large security personnel did not say anything, he just waved his arm in a way that could not be mistaken – just bring’em! I gave him the three bananas and he gave the not-so-cute-anymore dog a candy. Seconds later my bag came out and I walked through customs, entering South Africa without my three bananas that I had forgotten all about.

Well well! I found the exit, grabbed a taxi to my hotel, the Long Street Boutique Hotel. The cab driver had no problems finding it. The lessons learned from this initial taxi experience, that taxi drivers knew where they were going, and moreover knew how to, like, get to places, was however soon to be smothered. But before digging into that, let us turn the clock back some three months.

As soon as I had booked the wine tour with BKWine back in November, I started to look for good restaurants in Cape Town. The wine tour itself started on Saturday 27th of February, and I had booked two extra nights in Cape Town to get a little bit more out of my vacation. Departing Wednesday the 24th, landing in Cape Town on Thursday the 25th, it gave me two extra nights. Since I assumed that some of the other participants would arrive on Friday the 26th, and since we would all stay in the same hotel, we would no doubt bump into each other Friday afternoon, and most likely there would be suggestions to go out and eat something together, Thursday night therefore, seemed the best evening for something extraordinary.

It did not take many googlings to discover that Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen would be the primary option to discover what Cape Town could best offer in terms of fine dining. So I sent them an e-mail, probing Thursday the 25th of February for a reservation. I sent my requesting e-mail on the 18th of November. The following day, the 19th of November, I got a reply saying that they were... fully booked until 18th of May! Holy Moses! Trying to book a reservation three months in advance was clearly not sufficient. However, they recommended that I tried their other restaurant, ThePot Luck Club. I e-mailed them and yes – one person, the first serving, at 18.00 hrs, welcome. Great!

At first I found it a little bit disturbing, since I had tried to book such in advance, but then I got over it and started looking forward to the Pot Luck Club. Several reviews that I read on the Internet had stated that although the Test Kitchen was fine, the Pot Luck Club had in fact been a better experience. So after having unloaded my luggage in my hotel room, I undressed and slept for two hours, took a refreshing shower (nothing beats "a shower n' a shave...) and walked down to the street to find a cab.

This time I was not so lucky – the cab driver had absolutely no clue of the address, 375 Albert Road.

"Where's that???"

"Well I don't know!"

Then I remembered I had a screenshot of the restaurant:

"Ah, Woodstock! Yes, I know where that is! We go there first, find the street there!”

It did not sound that reassuring, but I thought that eventually I will get there... Now, if you have not been to Cape Town before, you should get rid of any images depicting “cute little town,” or any images saying it is a “town.” A few minutes after leaving Long Street, we got caught up in serious traffic jam. I realized that the estimated 15 minutes drive would take forever! But slowly and steadily, we got closer. And my cab driver managed, with some help form a smart phone to locate the place. Very nice, I got there 30 minutes late but that was no problem.

I had visualized that the restaurant would be located in a busy street with a tiny door, but it turned out to be within a gated enclosure. The Old Biscuit Mill, the name of the place, had been turned into a little sanctuary with a few other restaurants, a chocolate factory, and some other shops. Very peaceful and very quiet. A security guard pointed to an elevator and in the elevator the restaurant was clearly marked. I pushed the button and at last, I entered the restaurant. 


The place was oozing calmness, so very welcoming. I was greeted by the head waiter and shown to my table. The restaurant was built on the top floor of the old mill and had a rectangular shape with large panorama windows. It was very airy and furnished in a modern style. I really liked the interior, it felt great to be here. Everyone from head chef and down - including the guests - seemed to be relaxed and in a good mood. Nice!

First, some wine whilst looking at the menu. I had a glass of 2015 Newton Johnson Resonance, a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. Really nice.

Of course I had looked at the menu before, but I needed some finalizing time. This is what I settled on:

Firstly, the  Pot Luck Club Fish Tacos. Very nice. Crispy tacos on top and on the bottom, with tasty pieces of fish filets and other things in between.

My second dish was the Crispy Octopus, Doenjang Mayo, Pickled Cucumber and Octopus Teriyaki. This I also found very nice. I really like octopus, maybe not the rubbery, tyre imitations type you can get sometimes, but the other ones - great! The combination octopus, mayo and teriyaki - so good!

Thirdly, I had the Pig Head Ssam (my first ssam), Pineapple Kimchi with Miso Dressing and Bean Powder. This was a knock-outer! The pig head: crispy rind with juicy meat (must have been cooked slowly and for a very long time). The pineapple kimchi - absolutely lovely! The combination, fresh and sour pineapple kimchi with a slight heat, together with the pork was stunning. Really loved this dish!

With this, I had a glass of red wine: 2015 Peter Max Crystallum Pinot Noir. A nice Pinot - not too much acidity, not that diluted, not that jammy. Good solid structure!

I could not resist joking with D, my waiter:

“Ok – this is the pig’s head?


“Well if this is the pig’s head, then this must be the skin. And if this is the skin, this must be the meat. And if this is the skin and this is the meat, doesn’t that make this the… brain?

“Moahahaha! Good guess but no – I think it’s the inside of the chin.”

My last tapas was the Smoked Beef Fillet With Black Pepper and Truffle Café Au Lait. Sweeeet Lord this was good!!! Excellent - I mean EXCELLENT meat - just browned, thus mostly raw, in this dense, creamy sauce. Best dish in my ten day's stay. Perfection.

The plan was to have the selection of South African cheeses, but – I forgot all about them! Sorry! Instead, I took the soofley… Malted Chocolate Fondant Souffle With Halva Ice Cream, which was a bit overpowering but very nice.

I finished with coffee and thought about staying for some drinks, the guests for the second seating had started to enter the restaurant. But I was at complete satisfaction after his wonderful meal and excellent service. Besides, the following morning at 8 o'clock I had booked a 8 kilometre Table Mountain run with Run Cape Town so I decided to go back to the hotel. It had been a long and most lovely day.

A wine called Babiana???

Lion's Head and Signal Hill, from the restaurant's balcony

Many, many thanks to the Pot Luck Club for an awesome experience!!! I am definitely going back, and if you are in Cape Town - book in advance and ENJOY! 

onsdag 30 mars 2016

Sydafrika, prolog: Air Andouille och sju timmars väntan på Charles de Gaulle (flygplatsen)

Ha! Gate 67!

Kära läsare, återigen har jag varit på en låååång utlandsresa. Den här gången åkte jag med BKWine till Sydafrika och den här gången var det en ren nöjesresa – antalet barn hemma är fortfarande bara ett, hehe... Men vilken resa det var – absolutely fantastic! Vilken resa. Vilka viner. Vilken god mat! Superarrangerat av Britt och Per, jag åker tillbaka any day! Sydafrika kan verkligen göra goda viner, och definitivt goda matviner. Så, här kommer lite korta noteringar och i vanlig ordning tar vi det från början, som börjar med en lång, härlig flygresa. Typ.

Förra gången jag flög till Sydafrika (se nya taggar nere till höger) gick det galet redan från start. Vi skulle åka via Amsterdam och flyget till Schiphol gick vid det synnerligen okristna klockslaget sex på morgonen. Taxin hämtade upp mig och min dåvarande chef vid… en ännu okristligare tid före det. Knappt levande körde vi iväg mot Arlanda och det funkade väl fint tills vi kom i höjd med Stora Väsby, då taxin helt plötsligt började uppvisa klara signaler om kommande motorhaveri och kort där efter lade av. Christ!!! Ringa efter ny taxi mitt i natten, oroa sig för att den inte skulle komma, sedan stressa ut till Arlanda och stressa in genom alla kontroller och ut till gaten och ombord på planet. Väl där – elektriskt fel! Vänta i flygstolen i 45 minuter, sedan iväg.

Sedan visade det sig vara halv storm över Amsterdam så planet fick cirkulera – i kastvindarna – tills det blev klart att landa. Kraftigt försenade var det bara att springa från ena änden av Schiphol till den andra – ingen taxfree, inga två timmar värdigt strosande inklusive fika, utan en redig språngmarsch för att hinna med stora planet till Kapstaden. Puh!

Därför tänkte jag att den här resan skulle utmärkas av betydligt mer värdighet. Eftersom BKWine säljer sina resor utan själva flygresan till destinationen kan du styra själv hur du vill åka dit och i vilket format. När jag väl bestämt mig för att åka med började jag därför leta efter något passande flyg. De första som dök upp i sökningarna var visserligen billiga, men kanske inte så värdiga. Flyg från Arlanda på eftermiddagen, mellanlanda i Doha eller Addis Abeba, vänta på flygplatsen från åtta på kvällen till fyra-sex på morgonen, landa i Johannesburg runt lunch, för att i bästa disktrasestyle stappla ut i Kapstaden sen eftermiddag. Nja! Någonstans kände jag att jag var för gammal för att sitta i någon obekväm flygplatsstol mellan åtta på kvällen och sex på morgonen för att spara någon tusenlapp eller två.

Efter en hel del funderade valde jag därför Air France. Ut Arlanda kl 1 på eftermiddagen den 24 februari, landa i Paris vid fyrahugget, sedan direktflyg till Kapstaden (d v s inte via Joburg) runt 23.30, sova på planet och landa någorlunda utsövd i Kapstaden runt lunch torsdag 25 februari. Det fanns ett senare flyg från Arlanda, men jag kände att jag inte ville riskera att inte hinna med stora planet till Kapstaden så det fick bli sju timmars väntan i Paris – dagtid.  Det kunde jag ju leva med, det var ju bara att parkera sig på något trevligt ställe och läsa någon trevlig bok.

Fast, hur är det att åka med Air France då? Jag mailar med Per, frågar hur det är med maten:

- De serverar väl andouille?
- Japp
- Och hästbiff?
- Vanligtvis
- Kanske även tripes?
- Om du har tur
- Hur är det med lammhjärna?
- Självklart! Och genomgående pastis till maten.

Det avgjorde saken - det fick bli Air France, eller Air Andouille som jag döpte om dem till med skräckblandad förtjusning!

Hursomhelst. Onsdag och jag gick upp i vanlig tid, klockan sex, tog det mycket lugnt, packade det sista, och åkte sedan ut till Arlanda med pendeln. Inga problem, strålande väder. Väl på Arlanda åt jag medhavd matsäck (ren protest mot den dyra flygplatsmaten) och tog det allmänt easy. Fingrad på det mesta i taxfreeshoppen, men hittade inget direkt. Och naturligtvis - inser att jag svarat liiiite för många ja till Facebook, som numera vet allt om mig verkar det som...

Sedan iväg! Som sagt, första gången jag flög med Air France, helt ok! Lite trånga säten, väldigt många instruktioner på franska men helt ok mat. Väl i Paris drabbades jag dock av en mindre ”alla vägar, andra vägar”-incident. Det stod att mitt flyg skulle gå från gate (eller terminal?) 2E, så jag gick och gick och följde skyltar för 2E tills allt bara tog slut och jag stod helt själv vid några avspärrningar, då kom en från personalen fram och förkunnade att jag gått för långt och behövde gå tillbaka. Typ till ursprungsplatsen. Så efter lika mycket konkande på mitt tunga handbagage och en hel del till kom jag till slut fram till min gate och kunde påbörja mina sju timmars väntan på Charles de Gaulle.

På schemat stod egentligen bara två saker: kolla i alla taxfreebutiker och äta någon fransk middag, gärna med något glas vin. Jag såg framför mig hur jag slog mig ner vid något bord med rutiga dukar på någon av de tusentals små urtypiska franska restauranger det skulle finnas där inne på Charles de Gaulle, och mer eller mindre bara slumpmässigt pekade på någon rätt från en meny som bara var på franska, och hur jag sedan blev ohyggligt dåligt bemött av någon synnerligen otrevlig kypare som konstigt nog bara verkade kunna ett ord på franska – incroyable! Jag föreställde mig att maten – när den väl kom in – skulle bestod av blandade blötdjur och råa blodkorvar, men att den på något mystiskt sätt ändå skulle smaka fantastiskt, och att jag sedan fick vänta minst tre timmar på att få betala. Ingenting av detta hände dock.

För det första så fanns det inte så många restauranger på Charles de Gaulle. Jag gick förbi något som i bästa fall kunde liknas vid ett pizzasliceeria, men a) det såg inte så trevligt ut och b) prognosen att bli ohyggligt dåligt bemött i kombination med att få fantastiskt välsmakande mat verkade minimal, at best.

Men skam den som ger sig! Efter en hel del letande hittade jag faktiskt en restaurang till, som verkade kunna leverera. Dock hade de även en engelsk meny, så det skulle inte bli frågan om något slumpmässigt urval och dessutom skulle jag veta vad jag faktiskt åt. Men men, can’t have it all can you? Och i valet av de korslagda blötdjuren och något som jag faktiskt var sugen på fick det bli hamburgare. Min servitör var dessutom supertrevlig, så det var verkligen inget som stämde. Fast en sak var enligt plan i alla fall. När han kom ut med min hamburgare förkunnade han med hög och tydlig stämma, ”Monsieur! Ikväll har ni tur, det är Andé som står vid spisen. Han vågade ta er hamburgare så nära som 20 centimeter till spisen!” Jag lyfte på den övre brödskivan och stack kniven i hamburgaren – den var minst sagt bladdy… Men supergod! Så åtminstone några förväntningar infriade sig i alla fall.

Efter maten gick jag och köpte en hink macarons och läste lite ur min bok Battle of Britain som jag bestämt mig för att ta med och läsa ut. Några minuter senare vad macaronerna slut, boken lite halvseg och jag fullkomligt sockerspeedad. Ytterligare några minuter senare var jag fett uttråkad och försökte få igång en diskussion om cognac på Instagram genom att påstå att ”i motsatts mot vad de flesta tror tillverkas all cognac i en fabrik i södra Frankrike och att vätskan sedan smaksätts och marknadsförs efter konsumenternas olika smaker och preferenser.” Det var ingen som gick på det. Jag hann även med en tiramisu på illykaffe, ”illymiso,” som nog var den godaste tiramison jag ätit.

Slutligen, efter sju timmars väntan i Paris på Charles de Gaulle gick mitt plan till Kapstaden utan förseningar och tolv timmar senare landade jag hyfsat utsövd i Sydafrika. Äventyret kunde börja!