Our last call on our whistle – stop tour of the best of South Africa (a well-earned & much needed break from teaching WSET® Wine Courses to Yacht Crew and our first proper holiday since I don’t know when!) Realizing that we were also heading back home to the Côte d’Azur and straight into a busy season of Wine Supply to Yachts, we thought we better make the most of our very last day!
The grand finale was a “bells and whistles” blow out lunch at Hidden Valley winery and their “Overture” restaurant, after a last dive into the Kanonkop winery en-route. Couldn’t resist trying one of the oldest and most well-respected wineries in Stellenbosch and we were literally passing the door….
Best of the Bunch: Kanonkop “Paul Sauer” 2008 – again, one of those “determined to beat Bordeaux at its own game” blends. Cab Sauv dominating at 69% plus a fairly even sprinkling of Merlot & Cab Franc to make up the balance. And balanced it was! A very tarry nose with herbs, medicinal notes, burnt rubber and earth. Then raisin and black fruit on the palate. Firm tannins and structure and a slightly vegetal conclusion: mushrooms, leather and wet leaves. A lick of bilberries at the end brought quite a dramatic wine to a rounded finish. 8 /10
On to the restaurant – a winding road takes us off the beaten track (literally) and away from the bustle of Stellenbosch. Table Mountain still had its napery clouds and as midday beckoned it was time to settle down, absorb the spell-binding views and sip a glass of Rosé Brut Cap Classique – a subtle but berry rich fizz from Chenin Blanc and Pinotage.
The wine pairing Gastronomy fest began with Seared Scallops, Pancetta with a Cauliflower Cream and Tempura, Sweetcorn and a Tomato Concasse with a Deep-fried Sage Leaf to garnish. Slurped alongside was “Lekanyone” 2009 Chenin, Viognier and Verdhelo which was extraordinarily vigorously fruity with orchard and stone fruits and grassy, citrus lift at the end. A step away from the norm followed with Crumbed Sweetbread Nuggets with Truffle Mayo, Fine Beans and Mustard & Cress served with a lightly chilled straight Cinsault (not something one sees often!). Sour cherries, black pepper, low tannin but again intensely fruity and juicy – definitive with the Sweetbreads! Both wines rated 8 /10
Steak Tartare with a Mustardy Dressing, Salad and some home- fried Crisps (Chips) came next and this is where I (Helen) awarded my highest EVER score for a Pinotage! The home-grown version Hidden Valley Pinotage 2009 scored no less than 9 /10!! Nigel even photographed the momentous occasion whilst I scribbled comments on its smoky nose, inky coffee and cocoa-beans. Marvelled at its silky texture, floral, violet aromas and serious nod back to one of its parents: a rather delicate yet delicious Pinot Noir. Lovely fruity finish and a cut through the rich, but perfectly seasoned Tartare which was rapier-like!
Sole served on the Bone (frankly, as it should be!) with a simple Petits Pois a la Francaise was supreme with Bouchard Finlayson’s cool climate Hermanus unoaked Chardonnay 2010. A glass brimful of minerals, stone furit, shivers of dill-weed, anise, citrusy and aromatic. Like a rich 1er Cru or even Grand Cru Chablis. 8 /10
Then, as my Tasting Notes in the little Black Book get slightly more spidery and haphazard came a splendid Cheese Platter, served imaginatively and seductively on an Oak Barrel Stave. The long curving strip of wood was placed between us and oozed runny, nutty, squidgy, stinky epicurean fromagey delights. Fabulous home-made crackers and breads and although not a big fan of the sweet accompaniments often served with Cheese, I confess every scraping of home-made Fig Jam and crunckly bits of Honey-comb were hoovered up by the Brotherton Piggies! You can’t overlook South Africa’s Fortified Wine history and although a protected “name” – this was PORT! Called Bredell’s Cape Vintage 2001 “Port Style” this berry fruited, vanilla scented grippy sweetie had us groaning with pleasure.
The finale was a light as a feather Apricot & Brandy Soufflé. Our marvellous waiter / sommelier announced it was a new Pud that day and that the Chef had suggested a SA Van Ryne 10 yr old Brandy to go with it. Tenbi by then knew that we were in the Wine Trade and so when I suggested the Brandy was just too heady, over-poweringly spirity for the dessert he whisked out a delightful botrytis Semillon which then took the Apricot notes from the pud and ran a half marathon of joy!
Too very plump but happy FWW’s had to squeeze rather hard to get into our Cattle Class airline seating for that evening’s flight home to France. All worth it though!
Helen Brotherton
June 2012