Wine guru and Platter's Guide taster Michael Fridjhon has assembled an extraordinary array of mature wines, each occupying a unique place on the spectrum of wine absolutes, for his Wine Experience at The Hyatt Regency, Johannesburg, on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September.
The Wine Experience was launched 16 years ago as an annual event intended to enable Rand-locked South African wine enthusiasts to benchmark their expectations and their palates with the finest wines produced in the Old and New World.
"Since those early days," Fridjhon says, "wines available from top South African producers have come to rival many of the international classics - a measure of the importance of keeping the highest standards as a frame of reference. However, in the same period, the Rand has halved in value against the Pound, while the cost of the finest international wines has quadrupled in hard currency terms. In short, it gets more and more difficult (and certainly more expensive) for us to remain true to our founding objectives.
"It may not be able to continue indefinitely. The wines must always be of sufficient stature to live up to the founding purpose of the weekend, and the package must remain affordable for those who wish to attend. This slightly disconcerting thought prompted the theme for the 2013 Telkom Business Michael Fridjhon Wine Experience - 'Absolute Benchmarks in the World of Wine'."
The selected wines cover most of the important varieties and the undisputed premier appellations. There will be Château Cheval Blanc 1985 (the world's greatest cabernet franc-dominated wine), Château La Conseillante 1985 (an extraordinary merlot-dominated Pomerol), Remoissenet's Grands Echezeaux 1983 to represent pinot noir, Montrachet 2004 from the Marquis de Laguiche to meet the most exacting expectations of chardonnay aficionados. Château de Beaucastel 1998 will fly the flag for the Southern Rhône, Vouvray 1989 from Domaine Huet will state the case for chenin blanc, and from the same year a Scharzhofberger Auslese from Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt will speak for riesling.
Between the tasting and dinner, Wine Experience guests will enjoy Louis Roederer Cristal 2004, the first prestige cuvée ever produced in Champagne. Once they sit down to their meal, the 2002 Baron de L from Baron de Ladoucette's own cellar will reveal the full potential of sauvignon blanc grown in Pouilly-sur-Loire. Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru 1988 will be served alongside Hermitage 2003 to accompany the entrée while Château d'Yquem 1999, the greatest of all Sauternes, will bring the meal to a suitably sumptuous conclusion.
The Wine Experience Champagne Brunch - long regarded as an event in its own right - will provide guests with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with one of the most famous family houses in Champagne. Several wines from Pol Roger, ranging from the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill (the great man's favourite fizz) to the Blanc de Blancs, Vintage and the Rosé 2004, will be served over the course of a brunch which begins towards the middle of the morning and continues into lunchtime.
For more information, visit the event website.