Wine and a friend remembered
Jason Clarke, Contributor
I found myself welcoming the new year with thoughts of invincibility in my foolish idea of youth, then I was hit by another kind of reality. My friend, customer, and a great lover of wines, passed last week. Brilliant, witty, and always right on the money, he lived his life to its maximum potential. At no point could I ever say there was a moment of sadness that lasted more than just a moment and, believe me when I tell you, there was no pretence. His life, as I saw it, was full and rich of stories and great encounters, and I dedicate this article to my dear friend, Dr Anthony Lewis.
He once sent me an email about South African wines some time last year after my article on the same, and told me that Jamaica was one of the first countries to block trade with South Africa in an attempt to show support to the Anti-Apartheid movement. "You are too young to know. In the 1950s, South African wines enjoyed significant popularity in Jamaica. This popularity disappeared after our premier, Norman Manley, caused Jamaica to be the first country in the world to boycott South African goods."
Slightly vexed, as he was a strong lover of a great South African wines, he endured, but understood and appreciated that there are great wines everywhere and, regardless of whatever the situation may be, there is always something for everyone, just to tickle their palates and at a price point to be highly indulgent in.
Many afternoons, we would share light banter on what was new to try and what I recently tried, and always with a bounce of laughter in his voice. Thinking about all the various wines he and I spoke about, there are a few that really stand out in my mind as being enjoyable, exciting and worthy of a man being remembered.
South African Pinotage - I think that, deep down, there is an inherent love for South Africa that might be beyond my own understanding. A pinotage, regardless of the winemaker, was always a favourite, and understandably so. It is the signature varietal from South Africa which tastes more like a Shiraz than anything else. This particular discussion ended with the idea of barbecue pork chops and a Cathedral Cellar Pinotage which, I must say, works like a charm. (Right on the money).
Argentina's Malbecs - As my most favourite varietal, any conversation I am always all ears. There are always great options, but one I cannot ignore, and immediately opened, was the Catena Malbec. Not exactly your everyday drinking wine, but as he would tell me, something you have with someone or ones that you enjoy. And who am I to argue. I am inclined to agree. Such supple plum flavours and velvet-like touch on your tongue, it is supremely yummy. I guess great minds think alike, and with a mind like his, I feel honoured to be on the same frequency.
California Reds - This was always a subject of much debate, whether a singular varietal or blends from California. I happen to be a lover of both, although he might disagree only because of a particular red blend, Ménage à Trois, which he has a weakness for. Californian wines produce amazing wines whether as a singular varietal or beautiful, 'bodacious' blends. Who can really end this debate?
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs - We are always in agreement where these happen to be concerned. Sauvignon Blancs simply taste better from New Zealand. I suppose it's the water, but they are all just yummy. I once shared a story of my 'mistress', lovely when I can get it, go-to wine, a beautifully fragrant wine that goes by the name Kim Crawford. He said to me once, having tried it, it screams indulgence. I could only nod my head and smile.
Wine got me a good friend, so I raise my glass to a gentleman and a scholar and bless him on his journey.
I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.