Pinnacle Event

Pinnacle Event by Richard A. Clarke

Book: Pinnacle Event by Richard A. Clarke Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard A. Clarke
accompanied by men skilled with arrows. Today, you are going to be my bow man. We are going on a little helicopter ride to Stellenbosch.”

 
    10
    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21
    ROOSMEER ESTATE WINERY STELLENBOSCH
    WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICA
    The Augusta 129 lifted off from the Special Services compound and took a tourist ride over Table Mountain for Ray Bowman’s benefit. The long, flat-topped mountain stood at the edge of the city like a theater prop placed to provide a setting. Cape Town was a city like none other he had ever seen, a gem by the sea. Mbali asked the pilot to swoop over Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela had spent two decades in a cold cell. Once the aircraft set a westerly course for the wine country, they were there in less than fifteen minutes.
    The pilot circled the winery, confirming the landing area on radio to an advance team that had checked out the winery. He then gently placed the aircraft down in the cleared space, kicking up walls of dust and dirt. They sat in the cabin with the doors closed, while the engine spun down and the dust storm settled. The copilot then exited the aircraft and pulled open the cabin door from the outside. Hendrik and Pieter Roosmeer were waiting for them, still brushing off the dust. The brothers looked to be in their forties, dressed alike in green polo shirts bearing the logo of the winery and jeans. They courteously introduced themselves, shaking hands first with Mbali and then Ray.
    â€œOur father is waiting inside the winery, in the Library Reserve Room. He’s anxious to meet you. Please, follow me,” Hendrik Roosmeer said.
    Bowman looked out across the rolling hills, covered in vines. Whitewashed stucco buildings were scattered across the valley. Another mountain sat in the near distance, almost as perfectly placed as Table Mountain was to Cape Town. Aside from the mountain, it reminded him of Sonoma, but maybe the way it might have been fifty years ago. The sun was casting a yellow light across the scene. After the beauty of Cape Town from the air and now this magnificent valley, Bowman had to remind himself that the day had begun with men who had kidnapped him and then been shot to death a few feet from him.
    Inside, the man at the head of the heavy, wooden table was clearly the laird of the manor. Slightly stooped, but still tall and thin, he had a regal mane of thick white hair. Looking at him, Ray thought this is what Hendrik and Pieter would look like in three decades. The older man was pouring from a crystal decanter into one of the dozen or more wineglasses before him. The afternoon sun was slanting through one of the narrow strips of stained glass that topped off the wood-paneled walls. It seemed like another incongruity to Bowman. This appeared to be a setting for a sommeliers’ retreat, not for an interrogation about nuclear bombs.
    â€œJohann Roosmeer, the winemakers’ assistant,” the old man said, offering his hand to Mbali. “They are the winemakers, the new wave,” he said, pointing at his sons. “How familiar are you with our wines?”
    Mbali set herself on one of the stools around the tasting table. “I like to think I know something about Pinotage, but I have to admit that I have not had the pleasure of tasting yours, and certainly not the Library Reserve.”
    â€œThat’s because there hasn’t been any of our Pinotage. It’s been off the market for seven years while we grew new vines, clones, on the hillside, much better terroir for that grape than down in the valley. Here, try.” He handed her a tall stemmed glass. “It’s the 2014. Very young, a barrel tasting. We have not yet bottled it. The older vintages here in the Library are awful.”
    She went to taste and then stopped, held her head back and sniffed, rolling the red-purple liquid in the glass. “It has bouquet,” she sounded surprised. “Normally the better Pinotage have none. The regular

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