Notorious Neil Pendock is launching his Pendock Wine Gallery at the Taj Cape Town hotel at 18h00, to many a most unusual move, in a minute space which would not allow more than a handful of persons to move inside the gallery at any time. The Gallery concept and its link to the hotel’s Mint Restaurant is as quirky as Pendock is.
The roughly 2 by 4 meter space is half of the Edit[ed] hotel shop, and once inside Pendock’s Wine Gallery one can see inside the shop through a glass door, a design weakness, as it does not match the less-is-more sparse design of the Gallery. Six ornate shelves will hold a bottle of wine each, according to a monthly theme, September being dedicated to Pinotage, but the choice of six is not explained, other than space constraints. However, Pendock does pride himself on his selection, in that the six (Black Elephant Vintners, Diemersdal, Manley Private Cellar, Rooiberg Winery, Springfontein, and Wildekrans) he has selected are amongst the ABSA Pinotage 2013 Top 10, for which he was a judge! The venue has a central antique table with an orchid, and a Simon Stone painting in the far right corner (we share the love for the work of this artist). The logo for the Gallery draws on the lines from the Stone painting, and is sandblasted into the glass door near the entrance to Mint restaurant (it is so hard to see, that most Mint patrons would walk right past it), and is also on the centre of the wall opposite the wine wall.
The Wine Gallery will be open between midday and 19hoo on Tuesdays – Saturdays (the hotel staff have incorrect information re the operating days of the week and opening hours), and two Societi Bistro moonlighting staff (Shelley-Ann Gunter and Daniel Pretorius) will take turns in manning the Gallery. Earlier this week Pendock was taking the two staff through a tasting at the hotel. Pendock is planning to sell wine from the gallery too, with a mixed six pack of the wines exhibited to cost around R800.
A further quirky touch is that Gallery viewers are to be encouraged to eat at next door Mint. The theme for the Pinotage month is ‘Naughty Boy Nosh‘, which he describes as ‘soup, spag bol (or veggie bol), tinned (!) peaches & custard‘, all for a reasonable R100. Should a patron arrive dressed in ‘your school uniform’, the meal is free of charge, but no children are allowed! Mint Manager Ansolette Andov and I had a good giggle about Pendock’s peculiar menu!
One would have to be an avid reader of Pendock’s blog to know what is happening in his gallery, as there is no information supplied at the Gallery or in the lounge outside it, other than the sandblasting. The serving staff in the lobby are not yet fully informed. He has provided ‘Tasting Notes‘ for his ‘Super Six’ Pinotage selection (advertised as 2011 vintages, but contradicted by the vintage information below) on his blog:
‘#1 Dimersdal (sic) Pinotage 2012; naughty boy Thys Louw – On the nose, a complex mélange of red fruits, vanilla, spices and rich dark chocolate. The palate is full flavoured and smooth with chocolate and roasted banana.
#2 Rooiberg Pinotage Reserve 2012; naughty boy André van Dyk – An intense ruby-red colour, on the palate there are delightful banana flavours and charms of strawberry, redcurrant and blackberry. Supported by subtle vanilla from maturation in new barrels, serve with moussaka, grilled steak, ostrich, beef curry, lamb stew or cheeses like Edam and Cheddar.
#3 Wildekrans Pinotage 2011; naughty boy William Wilkinson – Delicate hints of cherries and raspberries infused with an herbaceous undertone of fynbos and cloves. The palate is round with soft and elegant tannins. A cool climate benchmark.
#4 Black Elephant Vintners the Back Roads Pinotage 2012; naughty boy Jacques Wentzel – Pitch black with dark purple rim. An expressive nose of red and black currants, chocolate and exotic spices. A youthful palate with great fruit concentration, driving acidity and fine but firm tannins.
#5 Manley Pinotage 2011; naughty boy Stefan Hartmann – A medium bodied wine with dark ruby red colour. Red fruits, strawberry and raspberry nose with vanilla and light oak evident. Rich fruit flavours with tannin, oak and acidity present in perfect balance.
#6 Springfontein Jonathan’s Ridge Pinotage 2010; naughty boy Tariro Masayiti – This wine is rich and full-bodied with exceptional bright red fruit, subtle oak spice and sweet natural nuances of vanilla’.
In October Swartland wines and Karoo brandies will be on show, curated by Juan Louw, and the theme for Mint is ‘Ostrich October’, the quirky menu for this theme not yet having been revealed. Pendock has appointed ‘the heaviest hitters’ in the wine industry as ‘curators‘ for his Gallery, including Pieter Ferreira from Graham Beck for an MCC show, Charles Banks on Chenin Blanc, Danie de Wet on Chardonnay, and Dana Buys on ‘internet wine‘. The Gallery is within spitting distance of the ‘Company (sic) Garden’, where grapes were first grown in this country, Pendock claims.
One expects that the wine industry will pop into the Pendock Wine Gallery when in town (parking is a nightmare) for a first time, but it is hardly worth the effort to return once a month for a minute exhibition of only six wines. It is not clear whether the wine will be available to taste. I spoke to Thys Louw from Diemersdal at the launch of the ‘Season of Sauvignon‘ yesterday, and he has very little information about the role of his wine in the Gallery. He did assure me that he has not given any wine to Pendock for free, all wine having been paid for! I was told that the Pendock Wine Gallery is part of the First Thursday Cape Town art gallery route, city centre galleries being open until 21h00 on the first Thursday every month, but it is not visible on their map. One wonders whether art lovers will feel cheated in only finding one work of art of show, unless they can see the art in the six wine bottles, in what must be the most unusual Gallery in Cape Town!
POSTSCRIPT 10/9: Despite having posted this blogpost last Thursday, I received this media release from The Taj Cape Town’s PR company today. Funny is the overstated importance of Pendock in respect of the Sunday Times, rarely writing for it anymore!
‘The next 12 months promise days of wine, if not roses, at the Taj Cape Town. The Sunday Times wine writer extraordinaire, Neil Pendock, has opened the doors of South Africa’s first ‘gallery of wine’ on Sunday 1 September 2013.
Showcasing either a style of wine, a region of wine production or a winemaker of a number of wines, the gallery will host eight exhibitions, each curated by an expert from the wine industry or affiliated sectors, not the least of which are Pieter Ferreira (Graham Beck), Charles Banks and Guido Francque (Restaurant Hertog Jan in Bruges).
Open Tuesday-to-Saturday, from 12 noon to 7pm, in the Lobby Lounge at the super-luxury Taj Cape Town, which is situated on the top-end of St. Georges Mall, in the heart of the city’s art precinct; the Pendock Wine Gallery @ Taj has provided a catalogue for each exhibit. This gives visitors an opportunity to understand why each of the six showcased wines were given their moment in the sun.
The first exhibition kicked off with a ‘super six’ selection of 2011 vintage Pinotages chosen from this year’s ABSA Top Twenty Pinotages. A month later, Pendock will showcase ‘Ostrich October’ – an exhibition of six Swartland wines and Karoo brandies – curated by Juan Louw Jr. of Nuweland Winery, near Malmesbury.
“After many years of fruitlessly explaining how wine should be marketed, I decided to take the plunge and open a wine gallery at the toniest address in town and the closest I could get to where the first grapes were grown in South Africa – the Company’s Garden,” says Pendock.
Drawing a parallel between art and wine, Taj Cape Town believes that if fine art is an expression of the city’s colourful populace, so should wine be seen as an expression of the expertise of the city’s many winemakers, from all walks of life and backgrounds. “What a wonderfully unusual way of appreciating what is probably one of the most coveted art forms in the Western Cape – winemaking!” says Michael Pownall, General Manager of the Taj Cape Town. “It would seem that the days of a mundane food and wine pairing are numbered – perhaps more should be following in Pendock’s pioneering footsteps?”
POSTSCRIPT 3/10: ‘Nasty Neil’ Pendock has taken great exception to this blogpost, and is regularly commenting on it on his blog! His new ‘Ostrich October‘ exhibition of six wines from the Swartland and Karoo opens tonight and consists of the following, curated by Juan Louw of Nuweland, who included three of his own wines into the ‘exhibition’ of six wines!:
‘Babylons Peak Roussane/Viognier
Babylons Peak Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Grenache,
Orangerie Chenin Blanc/Sémillon/Viognier/ Chardonnay
Nuweland Wilna a 7 cultivar blend of Palomino/Bukettraube/Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc/Clarette Blanche and Viognier
Nuweland Haasbek Tinta Barocca
Nuweland Muscat d’Alexandrie’
POSTSCRIPT 1/11: A visit to the Taj hotel late this afternoon revealed that Pendock has not yet changed from his ‘October Ostrich’ theme (with an ostrich outside the door), even though it is a new month. It also revealed that no one was inside the gallery! The Taj staff had very little knowledge about the petite Pendock gallery, only knowing that Fleur du Cap wines will be on show in November, and that a salt pairing dinner will be prepared by Chef Craig Cormack at Mint restaurant on 28 November. There are no brochures about the gallery in the hotel. The gallery assistant was clearly in a rush to get home, and muttered that the theme for November is Fleur du Cap and Vygies! The six ornate ceramic bottle holders have been removed (untidily standing on the floor near the entrance door) and have been replaced with two metal shelves, holding three bottles each.
POSTSCRIPT 2/11: Because of the Postscript of yesterday, and my Tweet about Pendock’s petite gallery with no one inside it, pathetic Pendock wrote a defamatory nonsense Tweet about ourselves, with a link to his only blogpost of today. However there is nothing in his blogpost that refers to us. It shows how desperate he is to attract traffic to his blog, using any manipulative means! He subsequently removed the Tweet, when requested to by my son!
POSTSCRIPT 5/11: Pendock’s theme for November, to be launched on First Thursdays this week, is ‘Vygies du Cap’, a vygie species each paired with six Fleur du Cap Unfiltered wines: Viognier 2012, Merlot 2010, Semillon 2012, Chardonnay 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, and Sauvignon Blanc 2013. On 28 November Chef Craig Cormack will host a Fleur du Cap and salt pairing dinner at the Taj’s Mint Restaurant.
POSTSCRIPT 30/11: The Ellerman House Wine Gallery with 7500 bottles opened earlier this week, Pendock not being impressed that they have allegedly taken his idea and done something better with it, having offered it to them initially. He had to settle for the Taj!
POSTSCRIPT 4/12: Pendock has announced today, after trashing Ellerman House for its ‘copy-cat’ wine gallery (hardly, at 7500 bottles of wine and with masses of space), that he is taking the shop space next door to his gallery, to be called ‘Pendock Private Club‘, and turning it into a retail liquor outlet, from which he will sell ‘fine SA brandy and terroir wine retail’. One wonders if he has applied for a licence to sell wine! His petite ‘Gallery‘ is to now open seven days a week. His theme for December is ‘Festive Fizz’, which was ‘curated‘ by Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines. The six MCCs on show from tomorrow are Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, Villiera Munro Brut, Pierre Jourdan Brut, Nicolas Charles Krone Marque 1, Desiderius ‘Poncracz‘ (sic), and Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs.
Pendock Wine Gallery, Taj Cape Town, corner Wale and Adderley Streets, Cape Town. Tel (021) 819-2000 www.tajcapetown.co.za Twitter: @NeilPendock @TajCapeTown
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage