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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MICHAEL GREENíS WINE NOTES (article first published : 2003-12-5)

Beaujolais wine from France was a favourite tipple in Fleet Street when I was a young journalist in London a long time ago. We called it red ink and it was a pleasant and rather classy drink that, per glass, cost not much more than a beer.

It is still a highly popular and not very expensive drink in France and Britain. Beaujolais, pronounced Bow-zhow-lay, comes from the southern part of the Burgundy wine-growing area in the east of France, not far from the border with Switzerland, and is made from the gamay grape. It is a most agreeable red wine and goes well with most dishes, or by itself.

It is intended to be drunk young, and the emphasis on freshness has given rise to a kind of Beaujolais Nouveau, new Beaujolais, cult. Every year growers and shippers hurry their new wines to different parts of France and Britain in an effort to be first with the new vintage.

In an enterprising move based on this idea the Beverly Hills Hotel at Umhlanga Rocks recently imported 18 cases of young Beaujolais and placed it on their wine list at R95 a bottle, which must be something of a bargain for a wine of this type. This promotion has apparently been very successful, but some bottles are still available. By courtesy of the hotelís marketing and communications officer, Lorna Gourlay, I was able to try the wine, which comes in a bottle with the most cheerful label imaginable, a rhapsody of blue, gold and red. The shipper is Georges Duboeuf.

The wine is exceptionally attractive: fruity, crisp, light. In accordance with the Beaujolais tradition, it is a 2003 vintage and it should be served slightly cool. If you are at the Beverly Hills I would recommend this wine as a very pleasant experience and good value.

The hotel itself has recently undergone major renovations, and Lorna Gourlay showed Caroline Smart, editor of artSmart, and me around. The former La Provence restaurant on the ground floor has been renamed The Sugar Club, and I examined the menu with interest. A tempting array of light lunch dishes is available at reasonable prices, just the thing for the new wave of lunchers from the Umhlanga ridge business area.

In the evening one can have, in addition to the extensive a la carte menu, a substantial two-course meal for R89, with choices from four elaborate starters, four salads, four soups, desserts, and 11 main courses, including meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian. Ė Michael Green




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