Does your mama know your Roodeberg?

If you live in South Africa, both you and your mama know all about Roodeberg, a cheerily commercial red blend. Nothing against that wine: it’s pleasant and distinctive, purposefully pitched between stylish Bordeaux claret and earthy South African red. The white has been pleasant in the past, but I have never been as pleased by a Roodeberg as I am by the 2008 white Roodeberg.

In classic KWV fashion, we’re not allowed to know precisely what’s in the wine. The label says nothing; the website talks about 45% Chardonnay (coulda fooled me), 40% Chenin Blanc (that’s easier to believe) and 15% “secret”. But WAIT, there’s more, like they say on the commercials. The website says the wine has aromas of litchi (sic) and rose petals. Hmm, would you suggesting Gewurztraminer, by chance? Moreover, the back label says the wine has “gooseberry”. That would suggest that the culprit is not Gewurztraminer but Sauvignon Blanc. Whodunit? What is this, a Murder She Wrote episode?

Lest I encourage the marketing people to continue such inanity, let me say that I would have spent the last one hundred words praising the wine if I didn’t feel the need to bitch about this typically KWV-ish secrecy. But I guess the folks that brought you green pepper extract in Sauvignon Blanc feel like being a bit coy…Bitchslap!

Okay, that was unfair. I just don’t understand why wine marketers think we’re stupid consumers or treat us as children who don’t deserve to know the details. But again, I’ve lost the thread of why I wanted to write this review. I didn’t intend to complain; I wanted to praise the wine.

And so I will. Sweet citrus, some fresh herbs and lemony warmth make for a pretty, textured and barely smoky wine. The barrel presence is very minimal, indeed, it may be more lees stirring then barrels. It tastes like fun and friendly South African Chenin Blanc with a whisper of Chardonnay and a touch of Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne (well, I told you it was a bit warm). Of course, it’s not comprised of all of those grapes but the wine has complexity, as you might guess from these notes. It has something that is pleasing like fatness so maybe it’s not much of a keeper but who cares? Drink tonight with citrus marinated grilled shrimp. Smile and stop complaining.

is it a problem?

A quick weekend in Seattle and one that allowed me at least one night out on the town with some cronies, some of whom I do not see often enough. More details on that to follow but one small complaint: is there something about Seattle that makes dealing with customers a problem? I’m just asking because it seems to be a habit in that fair city’s bars and restaurants to respond to a request with the rather inhospitable, “no problem.”

Maybe it’s the Texan coming out of me, but when I was a kid if you didn’t say, “thank you, “yes ma’am” or “sir” or “you’re welcome”, somebody was likely to smack you on your head. That’s how it was as a kid in Texas but then it was a simpler time.

So if I say “thank you” when you drop my drink or my food in front of me, I think it’s pretty lame to respond with, “no problem.” Of course, it’s not a “problem”. If I thought it was a “problem”, I’d go someplace else where, I don’t know, they’re polite and hospitable.

Not that people were rude; well, I did have a very strange experience in a bar that shall remain nameless. My waitress wasn’t familiar with Del Maguey mezcals and I was in need of a shot of tobala. Some of my friends probably needed one too. So I was directed to the bartender, who had a couple of the Del Magueys but not tobala. Did I want Pechuga, he wanted to know. No, not really, but do you have it? No, he replied. Hmm, why did he ask me if I wanted that? Oh, we”re testing each other’s knowledge now, I see.

Well, I was pretty well in my cups so I had little interest in that game. I tried to smile and act dumb (not usually a challenge). Did I want to try some other mezcals, he asked. Sure! He dropped a couple of glasses in front of me. “Cool,” I said, “whose are they?”

I haven’t been yelled at by a bartender in a long time, not since I was working alongside one, I think. Apparently, that was the wrong question. Nice and interesting mezcals, though I regret to say that I didn’t get their names. I went back to talking to friendlier people.