Although Peter May of The Pinotage Club is neither a South African expat nor a resident, he writes about South Africa's favourite oenological export, Pinotage, with such passion that he is considered an honourary South African wine blogger. Apart from maintaining The Pinotage Club, Peter has also been a judge in the prestigious Top 10 Pinotage competition in South Africa and is a published author. He became an honorary member of the Pinotage Association for producers in 2004.
1. Where are you – in South Africa or out in the wide world?
I live in the historic city of St Albans, just 25 minutes north-west of London. There are ancient British earthworks, a Roman City under the park and a mediaeval city centre. It has the oldest pub in England (The Fighting Cocks) and is the home of CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale.
2. How long have you been blogging?
I've been online since, gosh, I suppose the early 1980s. First on Viewdata (later renamed Prestel) and on various bulletin boards. The internet and web was opened to the public in 1994 and my first web-site went online in 1996. The Pinotage Club went online in 1997 and my WineLabels site in 1998. I moved the Pinotage Club to Blogger.com in 2006.
3. What do you enjoy the most about food or wine blogging?
The chance to easily and cheaply communicate with others – The Pinotage Club was created to encourage South African wine farmers that there was consumer interest in the variety at a time when it seemed that Pinotage might vanish in the rush to plant international varieties in the wake of the ending of sanctions against South Africa. I enjoy the emails I receive from around the world, and the people I have met through my writing, which has led to invitation to judge the Pinotage Top 10 Competition in South Africa and a contract I got to write a book – Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape – as a result of Winelabels. And look out for my next book 🙂
4. Any downsides or frustrations?
Two – the constant need to add content, and the sheer difficulty of getting any information out of South Africa.
5. What or who are your inspirations to cook, drink and write?
6. Where and when do you like to blog?
Mostly at home, but I like the immediacy when in SA of visiting a winery, writing it up on my laptop and going to the internet café to upload it.
7. What's your signature dish or favourite wine?
Signature dish? I like Sunday roasts and people that have joined me for it always praise my roast potatoes. My scones beat shop bought ones hands down, but scones and roast potatoes are dead simple. Perhaps I'll pick my aubergine and tomato pasta sauce. But that relies so much on being able to get flavoursome ripe plum tomatoes. As for favourite wine – that is easy! My favourite wine is the next wine I'll be opening.
8. What other food or wine blogs do you read?
I read too many. It is so easy to read and respond to what others have blogged rather than write up ones own notes.
9. Favourite restaurant?
Red Leaf Restaurant at Beyerskloof Winery (for the Pinotage Burger and wines at cellar door prices), Delheim Winery's Garden Restaurant (for the Cape Malay-inspired dishes and location), Spur in Gordons Bay (because they do not charge corkage so I take wines I have gathered in the winelands and taste them there) – all the preceding are my favourites because it means I am in SA in Gordon's Bay.
Also Mumtaj Tandoori in St Albans; the Flying Vegetable in Pattaya, Thailand ; and the Hitching Post in Buelton, California.
10. For my last meal on this planet I would order…
Difficult one. Fish and Chips from the chippie come to mind, but I'd have to have a white wine and I prefer red, so I'll go for:
Aperitif – An ten year old Cuvée Grand Cru Mailly-Champagne from Champagne Raymond Boulard
Main Course – Roasted leg of lamb with roast potatoes and parsnips, steamed brussel sprouts and cauliflower, gravy and mint sauce (meal cooked by me). Wine – Francois Naude's L'Avenir Estate 2004 Cape Winemakers Guild Pinotage, Beyers Truter's Kanonkop Estate's 1999 Pinotage.
Dessert – Bramley Apple pie (made by me) with vanilla ice cream. Wine – Klein Constantia 'Vin de Constance' 1999
If it has to be a restaurant meal, then one of the above restaurants will do…..