LUBBLY BUBBLY AND LUBBLY LUNCH TOO

A bubbly lunch may sound to some that I am on the drinking man’s diet …..I most definitely am not.

The title refers to a lunch I recently enoyed at which each course was paired with a different bubbly from Simonsig – home of the original Méthode Cap Classique.

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Our genial and effervescent hosts were Simonsig supremos Johan and Diane Malan.

Malans

 

Now by any criteria this was no ordinary lunch. Firstly Simonsig and in particular their Kaapse Vonkel, have led the way in South African bubblies for over 45 years. The lunch was held at one of this country’s leading restaurants, Harald Bresselschmidt’s Aubergine in Cape Town.

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Now that the wine and restaurant credentials are on the table, there is another hugely significant element to join them – many rate Bresselschmidt supreme amongst South African chefs when it comes to pairing food with wine.

So upfront it was likely that a huge treat was I store, and boy did it deliver and then some!

 

Here’s the majestic Simonsig/Aubergine menu:

Ocean Kabeljou marinated and sous-vide nettle and green apple shoots

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel 2015

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Calves Liver with fava beans, lemon balsamic-glazed white grapes

Simonsig Cuvée Royale 2012

Simonsig Cuvée Royale

Quail Breasts filled with mousseline, prawn reduction, pistachio, cherry-quinoa dressing

Simonsig Pinot Noir Brut Rosé 2015

Simonsig Pinot Noir Rose 2015 HR

Ivory Chocolate Dome with MCC soft centre, almond streusel and angelica ice cream, white flower espuma

Simonsig Demi Sec 2015

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True confession. I am an avid wine drinker and food eater, but when it comes to doing both at the same time, I am severely handicapped. So enjoying food and wine pairings is usually somewhat of a challenge.

But I think a corner has been turned for me. Savouring the glorious range and different vintages of Simonsig bubblies before the lunch was pleasure enough. But then, my personal food and wine-pairing sea change…..

The superb Harald Bresselschmidt dishes and the Simonsig’s always excellent Cap Classiques were so magnificently complementary that my taste-buds finally got the food/wine pairing message. Food, wine, food, wine, food, wine , left right left right, whichever way I turned the balance and harmony were perfect.

Although Simonsig are the Cap Classique pioneers, they continue to strive for excellence and regularly receive industry accolades.

At the recent 2017 Amorim Méthode Cap Classique Challenge, they won: Best Rosé: Simonsig Woolworths Pinot Noir Rosé No Sulphur Added 2015: Best Blanc de Blanc and Best Overall: Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012 and Best Producer:
So seek out the Simonsig bubblies, dine at Aubergine, enjoy sensory excellence.

Long may they vonkel!

 

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THE GASTRONOMIC JOYS OF SPRING

I recently made my third visit to La Motte in Franschhoek, this year. Each visit was more enjoyable than the one before and each offered something extra.

My first visit was to try the La Motte Food& Wine Pairing and then lunch; the second was to celebrate a new Pierneef Exhibition followed by a Pierneef inspired lunch.

The third visit was titled “The Splendour of Spring” and was for lunch in the form of a fynbos-inspired menu of modern Cape Winelands Cuisine at Pierneef a la Motte. With each meal I have become more and more a fan of Chef Michelle Theron’s cooking.

The something extra this time was that Michelle collaborated with Sarah Graham, the food writer, cook and the host of two food TV programmes on the Menu and the execution of it.

Fybos-inspired luncheon (63)

Sarah Graham and Chef Michelle Theron collaborating

The Splendour of Spring menu and the pairing with the fine La Motte wines made for a very special four-course lunch indeed. For me, I was glad not to know the micro-detail of the partnership and be free to enjoy each dish on its own merits.

Here’s the menu and the wines that went with each item:

ODE TO BREAD

Mosbolletjies with farm butter, quince spread and buchu salt

FIRST

Tomato, honey bush and goat’s cheese “roosterkoek”

2016 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc

SECOND

Fragrant Cape seafood curry with lavender, lightly smoked mussels and banana chutney

2016 La Motte Chardonnay

Fybos-inspired luncheon (83)

Cape Seafood Curry

THIRD

Waterblommetjie and samp risotto, Karoo lamb “sout ribbetjie”, pulled lamb belly, bone marrow, red wine jus

2015 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon

FOURTH

Poached citrus salad with rosemary salted caramel, brandy milk pinch blanc mange, milk tart semi-freddo

NV La Motte Straw Wine

 

Each course was a joy and the wine pairings were spot on, but one dish and one wine were my personal favourites: my Dish of 2017 – the Cape seafood curry and I really enjoyed the La Motte Straw Wine that ended the meal.

Congratulations and thanks Michelle and Sarah!

I wonder what my next La Motte visit will bring……

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All photos were supplied by La Motte

MERCI – I WISH I COULD RECIPROCATE

I recently had the enormous pleasure and privilege of attending an intimate lunch at Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel. The occasion was a food and wine pairing of some of the wines of French House, Domaines Ott.

 

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Domaines Ott was founded in 1912 by Marcel Ott, an agricultural engineer from Alsace who dreamed of establishing a great wine estate near the Mediterranean in France. Today, the wineries are owned and managed by Champagne Louis Roederer and produce some of the world’s most prestigious wines. These wines are made at three distinctively different estates in the Bandol and Côtes de Provence appellations: Château Romassan, Clos Mireille and Château de Selle

During the course of the year, I have enjoyed many pairings. Some where the food outshone the wines, others where the balance was more even. With Domaine Ott/Vineyard Hotel lunch, the balance was such that the wines were Roi and the food complementary.

I am able to taste mostly South African wines as a rule, and prefer when tasting wines from another country, I prefer to do so without making any comparisons to our local wines.

With a butternut, fennel and beetroot salad, we tasted: Blanc de Blancs Clos Mireille 2012 and Blanc de Blancs Mireille 2014

With Chicken Supreme, we tasted: By.Ott Rosé 2016. Chateau de Selle Rosé 2016 and Chateau Romassan Bandol Rosé

With a cheese platter, we tasted: Chateau Romassan Rouge 2012

And it didn’t stop there, with our date and brandy pudding, we enjoyed a glass of: Ramos Pinto Port LBV 2009

What a superbly delicious experience, Vive Domaines Ott, Vive la France!

 

And the sharing part of it is that you too can enjoy these wines.

They are all available from Reciprocal Wine Trading Company (www.reciprocal.co.za) at very accessible prices.

BUBBLY AND A BURGER ON THE ROCKS

I recently made my second visit to the beautifully situated Linton Park Estate near Wellington. And although the occasion was not directly a wine one….we did indeed enjoy some of their wines!

The visit was to attend a celebratory luncheon at which an amount of R120 000 was presented to the Rhinos Without Borders campaign.

For a couple of years now, Linton Park, together with the Hugo Rust Primary School, has been involved with raising money for Rhino conservation. Rhinos Without Borders was formed in order to start moving these endangered animals away from the poaching hotspots to a safer environment.

Prior to the luncheon, we enjoyed a special treat – atop a koppie with a magnificent 360 degree view, we joined by Schalk Burger Sr (of neighbouring wine farm, Welbedacht) who kept us captivated by his knowledge and passionate detailing  of  the unique terroir of the Groenberg and its positive impact on the wines produced in this area. We did so, glass of Linton Park MCC in hand.

The spectacular picture below of the rocky ‘ice bucket’ needs no caption:

 

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The always warm hospitality and a delicious lamb shank lunch was served at a long table in the wine cellar, accompanied by equally lovely Linton Park wines.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to try two more of their wines: the Linton Park Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and the novel Linton Park Café Malbec 2017.

LP Sauv Blanc 2017

I started off with their Sauvignon Blanc 2017. I am not much of a Sauvi fan, but found this one easy drinking and medium-bodied, fresh and more-ish.

LP Caf+¬ Malbec 2017

As to the Café Malbec 2017, for no rational reason, I was not expecting much of it. Happily, I really enjoyed it. A lovely, dark fruity nose and gently complex on the palate. The chocolate flavour was surprisingly pleasant and the wine for me falls into that “something different’ category.

….I’ll be back!

PASSING AWAY OF SA WINE LEGEND

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The Sperling family are sad to announce the passing of Michael Hans ‘Spatz’ Sperling, their much-loved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and patriarch of Delheim.

Since his arrival in South Africa as a 20-year-old from Germany in 1951 to join his uncle Hans Hoheisen and aunt Del, Spatz became a pioneering icon of the South African wine industry.

Over the next 60 years, Spatz grew this farm on the Simonsberg into one of the most enduringly popular and successful wine destinations, creating many firsts in the process. Among the most notable Delheim was the first farm to send out a newsletter and to serve cheese platters for lunch (first restaurant on a South African wine farm) – facilities today’s visitors to the Cape winelands take for granted. Spatz was ahead of the game too when it came to wines the consumer wanted. His first effort however was the famous Spatzendreck which has been loved by many since 1961. Heerenwijn, a light and dry white wine, was a first of its kind.  At the other end of the scale, in the 1970s, Spatz recognised growing demand for red wines, purchasing prime vineyard land on Klapmutskop, which he named Vera Cruz after his wife. Delheim’s flagship, the Cabernet-led Grand Reserve, first produced in 1981 and among the early Bordeaux-style blends, comes from these vineyards.

The wine industry’s ultimate recognition of Spatz’s extraordinary contribution came in 2009, when he was honoured with the 350 Celebration Scroll in the year South Africa celebrated 350 years of winemaking.

 

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BEST BUBBLES RISE TO THE TOP

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles) In the wine (in the wine) Make me happy (make me happy) Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

 Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles) Make me warm all over With a feeling that I’m gonna Love you till the end of time

Don Ho (1967)

That song was a hit 50 years ago, and we continue to enjoy and celebrate those tiny bubbles today.

Yesterday, we were wined and dined at the 12 Apostles Hotel on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard – the occasion was the awarding of the prizes in the 2017 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge.

Each of the four courses we enjoyed was paired with an appropriate MCC: Chicken or Egg with an MCC Brut; Yellowfin Tuna with an MCC Rose; Lamb Roast with an MCC Blanc de Blanc; and the Apple Custard with a Museum Class MCC. .

This annual event is hosted by the MCC Association in association with Portugal-based cork company Amorim, the world’s leading supplier of cork wine stoppers and has done much to elevate the status and popularity of South African bubbly.

In 2016, MCC sold 4,4m bottles in South Africa, a staggering growth of 24.5% compared to 2015 or nearly one million bottles. .

The major awards at the 2017 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge went to:

Best Producer, Overall Wine:

Simonsig Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012

Simonsig Cuveģe Royale

Best Brut:

Domaine Des Dieux Claudia Brut MCC 2011

Best Rosé:

Woolworths Simonsig Pinot Noir Rosé 2015

Best Blanc de Blanc:

Simonsig’s Cuvée Royale Blanc de Blancs 2012

Best Museum Class:

Graham Beck Brut Zero 2005

And the Frans Malan Legacy Award went to Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck

 

 

MUCH MORE TO DE KRANS THAN PORT-STYLE WINES

DK Chenin Blanc Free Run

 

Calitzdorp is known far and wide for its excellent port-style wines and De Krans Wine Cellars are one of its shining lights.

Over the past 30 years, there has never been a time when I haven’t had some De Krans port-style wines in my collection.

But in recent times winemaker Louis van der Riet has been producing some really decent table wines as well. I recently tasted one of these, the De Krans ‘Free- Run’ Chenin Blanc 2016.

‘Free-Run’ is the name for the juice (or wine) is drained without pressure from a mass of freshly crushed grapes.

The De Krans Free-Run Chenin Blanc speaks loudly of tropical fruits both on the nose and on the palate. It is a really lovely every day wine, well-rounded and fresh. I realise the cold of a Cape winter is not the best time to enjoy the wine, but drinking it had me eager for summer and it wasn’t a challenge to empty the bottle.

The wine sells for about R60 a bottle.

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BACK TO MY ROUTES

Back in the 70s, when the pioneering Stellenbosch Wine Route was established, I was living in Johannesburg. So when, on my annual visit to Cape Town, a friend asked: Would you like to go on the Wine Route? I had to ask what a wine route was!

We decided to start my first trip to the “Wine Route” by heading for Lanzerac Wine Estate.

Looking back, my early forays into wine routes were more misses than hits! Why was that, you ask? The inexperience of a much younger me meant that far too much wine was consumed at each estate making driving afterwards a no no!

My recall of that first visit was enjoying the range of Lanzerac wines to the limit, reaching ‘cannot drive’ status and sensibly staying for lunch before heading home…

Fast forward to the present. I have two bottles of the Estate’s on my desk waiting to be opened…a maiden release of a Chenin Blanc and their first Syrah in over a decade.

 

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Lunch at home the other day was cheese on home-made bread and although the weather here in Cape Town was very cold, wet and windy, we opened the Lanzerac Chenin Blanc 2016. I found it full of stone fruit flavours with a hint of something tropical and gentle on the palate. Taking a bite of my cheese sandwich and a sip of the Chenin, made for a very well-balanced lunch and an enjoyable one, to boot.

I decided to taste the Lanzerac Syrah 2015 on its own. It offered the pepper and spiciness that makes me a syrah/shiraz kind of guy and I enjoyed a second glass of it. Cellarmaster Wynand Lategan says that it took some time to perfect the wanted style. I think the wait was worth it!

LZ Premium Range Syrah 2015

Time for me to sample the other Lanzerac wines in situ I think…..

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The Lanzerac Chenin Blanc 2016 sells for R85 a bottle and the Lanzerac Syrah 2015 for R140 a bottle from the Estate’s Tasting Room.

 

 

MORE HARTENBERG FOR ME THAN BEFORE

I have enjoyed running many a Trail Run on Hartenberg Estate in Stellenbosch and have also visited to taste some wine, of course.

Those tasting visits were limited to catching up with the latest vintages of two of my favourite shirazes, the Hartenberg Gravel Hill Shiraz and their The Stork Shiraz and their wonderful The Mackenzie blend as well. But until recently, that was the extent of my Hartenberg imbibing experience.

Then along came a bottle of Hartenberg Merlot 2015 for me to try. 2015 was an industry-recognised good season, so the Merlot should be a goodie….

Hartenberg Merlot NV

It was!

I found it full-bodied and fruity with some spice, with a nose of dark berries and some plum. Beautifully balanced and smooth, it was already drinking well for a youngish wine. I finished a glassful and enjoyed some more with the Spaghetti Bolognaise we had for supper. The Spag Bol and the Hartenberg Merlot enjoyed each other’s company!

The Hartenberg Cabs are next on my ‘to be tasted soon’ list…

The Hartenberg Merlot 2015 is available directly from the cellar at R175 per bottle

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A PRIVILEGED TREAT

Occasionally, the stars are aligned and something delectable is on offer and one is included in a select few.

The occasion was a visit to Jacobsdal a family-owned winery in Stellenbosch, to taste their range and for lunch. The privilege? Jacobsdal is not open to the general public…..

Jacobsdal Logo

 

Our gracious hosts, the Dumas family has been making wine on the estate for three generations with present owner Cornelis Dumas being helped by his son Hannes.

Cornelis and Hannes Dumas

Cornelis and Hannes Dumas eyeing their handcrafted wine

Jacobsdal only makes two wines, a Cabernet Sauvignon and (of course!) a Pinotage. They hand-make their wines and only use natural yeasts.

We tasted eight vintages of Jacobsdal Pinotage from their 1997 to the 2014, which is their current vintage in bottles, and six vintages of Jacobsdal Cabernet Sauvignon from 2001 to the 2014, its current bottled vintage.

It was rewarding to smell and taste the often subtle differences across the vintages and it would be easy to give detail impressions of each. But, as I am not sure that all the wines we tasted are still available for purchase, I’ll give a general impression of only two of them, if I may? To check on the availability of the Jacobsdal vintages, I suggest you visit: https://www.vinoteque.co.za/collections/jacobsdal

Jacobsdal started out only making Pinotage before adding Cabernet Sauvignon, so let me start with the Jacobsdal Pinotage 2013.

 

Jacobsdal Pinotage PackShot

The Jacobsdal Pinotage 2013 offers dark berries and dark plums on the nose and a hint of spice. It comes across on the lightish side, but is well balanced and elegant. I tasted it on its own and could see it doing well with venison or a meaty stew.  A very drinkable and enjoyable Pinotage.

Jacobsdal Cabernet Sauvingon Packshot

The Jacobsdal Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is full boded and generous with fruit flavours, it gives dark berries on the nose and a hint of vanilla from light oaking. It too would go well with a meaty stew.

Two really well made wines, generous on the palate with or without food.

We tasted the Jacobsdal range on its own and then paired with lunch.

Talking about lunch…..our invitation was to Jacobsdal Wine Estate, so the balance of this post must necessarily be the wine. But the lunch came to us from Executive Chef Jean Delport from Somerset-West restaurant Benguela on Main.

The plating, the food, the creativity and the pairing made for one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had in this country.

If this is an example of what to expect from Chef Delport, I’ll definitely be adding a visit to Benguela on Main to my 2017 bucket list.

Too often one visits wine estates that exudes far too little of a sense of being a farm – the genuine warmth, passion and generosity that makes a farm visit so special. Jacobsdal did more than just tick those boxes!!

Baie dankie Dumas gesin!