Wild Magic in Wellington

Wednesday, 11 February, 2004
Lesley Beake
Enchantment ... by anyone's standards...

There was, during an enchanted ball in a magical wood, a bat, who paused for a moment, disorientated, and gazed down upon the midsummer wonders in Wellington that hot, summer night; I, one of the enchanted beings who were part of the play, shot up a thought-rocket to see what he saw.

On a wooded slope, where trees grew tall and banks of flowers surrounded a smooth and velvet lawn, were tables draped in linen white and golden candelabra, strung with crystals ... and candles burning bright.

The gentle ladies of the distant cities had come to this evening in silks and taffetas, sweeping their skirts and gleaming in their pearls. Their knights and squires, in sober black, gleamed gently too, in the warm, still air, and smoked fat cigars.

Mummers had come from the city, bringing in their train wild, wild magic, green and silver lights that danced and danced together, wild and free across the trees (that were rose and silver and lime and lilac with magic lanterns also brought from the city).

My bat looked down in amazement at the wildness of the wonders of it all, but he looked longest on the lights that danced, and wished that he were one of them; and laughing free, and wild ... and magic.

Wines there were, brought by the smiling people of that region ... and made by them too, in the vineyards in a place long known as Wellington. And (as was proper in a play of such substance) there was a great Duke, and his name was Wellington too.

And, as was also necessary and right, there was a Guild of Fellowship, and great plans, and fine ideals and thought for the future (and the past) of that place.

My bat took a long, last look at the enchantment of the play before he drifted silently, reluctantly, away (over some enchanting terroir that happened to be handy). 'Hmm.' He thought to himself, with a satisfied flick of his wings. 'Maybe the magic is coming back into the world.'


Wellington Guild of Fine Wine could not have made more of an impression with their spectacular evening of wine, food ... and much magic ... at the Duke of Wellington Ball held on Saturday 7 February 2004 at Diemersfontein.

At the risk of sounding moon-struck (which I was) I have to say that this was an evening that will live forever in my memory as a perfectly orchestrated occasion of wine and food, people and place.

For the wine purists, who are always amongst us (and who are probably gnashing their teeth and clenching their palates by now, after all this romance) the evening was (amongst other things) about wine ... and the wines showed to perfection.

I tasted, during the long and languid preamble to the ball and banquet on the lawns of Diemersfontein, a special Hildenbrand Semillon, a memorable La Cave Merlot and the velvety Diemersfontein Pinotage.

Proceeding to the real party (featuring amazingly nostalgic music by the Jonny Cooper Big Band), guests were spoiled by a succession of delights (for example the starter of Fresh Oyster with Cucumber Verjuice dressing, Steamed Crayfish Tail with Sweet Curry and Ginger Remoulade and Crab Cake with Roasted Pepper and Red Onion Salsa). Wines of the Wellington Guild were poured, rather reverently, and in small, but perfectly formed, samples throughout the banquet (which included Medallion of Springbok Loin 'Wellington' with Foie Gras Crust served with Truffled Crushed Potatoes and a Pinotage Jus).

I tasted the Nabygelegen Chenin/Sauvignon Blanc, the Siyabonga Severney and the surprise of the evening in the delicate Klein Optenhorst Pinot Noir. (Who says Wellington can't produce a Pinot Noir? Speak to me).

It was smashing. (And I wouldn't be my father's daughter if I didn't single out for special food mention the potatoes, which were sublime).

I've run out of words. More will follow on the serious, and commendable purpose of the evening, which was to raise funds for the Wellington Wine Producers Educational Trust.

To quote host David Sonnenberg, from his speech to the assembled throng ... www ... (Wines, Welcome and Wellington). Or perhaps - www.wildmagic@Wellington.co.za

David Sonnenberg, Diemersfontein
Tel: +27 (0) 83 680 5699
Email: sonnenberg@diemersfontein.co.za
Website: www.diemersfontein.co.za

Members of the Wellington Guild of Fine Wine
Tel: +27 (0) 21 864 5093
Email: info@wellingtonwines.com
Website: www.wellingtonwines.com

The Wellington Wine Producers Educational Trust
Contact: Dr Lee Wallis Tel: +27 (0) 82 524 9704
Email: info@bovleivalleyretreat.co.za
Website: www.wellingtonwines.com