Thursday, November 16, 2017

This Week’s MENU. Bellevue 1953 & restaurant, Ocean Basket Summer celebration, Diners Club Wine Maker of the Year, Pollo Orvietana, Groote Post SeaSalter

Beach huts, Muizenberg
In the 1970s, a system of wine bottle neck “bus tickets” was introduced by the Wine and Spirit Board. On these tickets, up to three coloured stripes designated origin, vintage and cultivar. The flaw in the system was that the public assumed that the more stripes there were, the better the wine. As the third stripe denoted “cultivar” it was translated as meaning that a single cultivar wine was better than a blend. It has taken many years to recover from this flaw and, while red blends have become respectable, only recently have white blends achieved serious recognition. This week, our Wine of the Week is a white blend and we’ll tell you next week about the great wines we tasted at a white blends awards ceremony. Please click on these links to see this week’s stories:
We visited Bellevue Wine Estate in Bottelary recently to taste their wines and they told us that their new restaurant and wine tasting venue would be opening soon and that we would be invited. This launch took place last week and it was also their opportunity to launch an iconic new wine, 1953 Pinotage, made from the vineyards planted on Bellevue 64 years ago. Pinotage vines (a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault -aka Hermitage- propagated by Professor Abraham Perold in 1925) were planted on Bellevue in 1953 by PK Morkel. The grapes for the first commercially produced Pinotage were harvested from these vines and made into this original South African wine which sold under the Lanzerac label, owned at the time by Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery. Bellevue is an historic wine estate (established in 1701) with its original Cape Dutch homestead built in 1803. The modern new facilities complement the original farm buildings


Over the last year, we have been asked by Ocean Basket management to sample new ideas in their menus and give suggestions. Last week, we were invited to Canal Walk Ocean Basket with several other members of the media to hear about and taste what they are currently launching. This was their Summer Celebration, where we could taste some of the new ideas they have for food in the restaurants. They have been moving to a more Mediterranean style and doing their best to work around the diminishing supply of sustainable fish. And we were told to come hungry. And this after the lunch at Bellevue!


Minerality in wine is 'a good thing'; it adds to the complexity. Sometimes, a little salt is found in wine. It is not a negative flavour and adds some nice savouriness, it helps to highlight other flavours and aromas in the wine, as it does in food and it often comes from the same areas. We look for it in wines from Darling, Durbanville and other West Coast areas. Groote Post has some in this new Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend just released by the Pentz family of Groote Post and it is an impressive wine. We were invited to taste it and six of their other wines this week at the Cape Grace
These awards will be presented on Saturday 25th November in Franschhoek. We have been invited and hope to be there if we get accommodation. It is a long way to drive home after midnight.
Winemaker of the Year Finalists: Category - Pinotage
·         André Scriven - Rooiberg Pinotage Reserve 2016 (Robertson)
·         Christiaan Groenewald - New Cape Wines - Arendskloof Pinotage 2015 and Eagles Cliff Pinotage 2017 (Worcester)
·         Clayton Reabow - Môreson Widowmaker Pinotage 2015 (Franschhoek)
·         De Wet Viljoen - Neethlingshof Pinotage 2016 (Stellenbosch)
·         Niël Groenewald - Bellingham Homestead Pinotage 2016 (Franschhoek)
Young Winemaker of the Year Finalists: Category - White Wines
·         Charl Schoeman - Simonsig Roussanne 2016 and Roussanne Marsanne 2016 (Stellenbosch)
·         Murray Barlow - Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016 (Stellenbosch)
·         Philip Viljoen - Bon Courage Chardonnay Unwooded 2017 and Noble Late Harvest 2016 (Weisser Riesling/Gewürztraminer) (Robertson)
·         Wade Roger-Lund - Jordan Blanc de Blancs Méthode Cap Classique 2015 (Stellenbosch)

What is on the Menu this week? Pollo Orvietana - Chicken with Kalamata olives and Balsamic vinegar
We first had this lovely summery dish at Morgenster when, several years ago, we were invited to lunch with owner Giulio Bertrand and it was prepared by his chef. If you can get hold of the Morgenster Balsamic and their Olive Oil it will be superb. Lynne cooked it for friends this weekend as a simple supper and it was delicious, so we thought it might be time to reprise this recipe.
8 jointed chicken pieces – seasoned flour - Extra Virgin olive oil - fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and oregano) - 2 bay leaves - 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
16 kalamata olives - 3 or 4 large peeled potatoes, cut in quarters or eighths - Balsamic vinegar di Modena
Dust the chicken joints with flour, braise with herbs until golden in olive oil. Add olives and stock, and par-cook chicken for about 15 minutes. Add potatoes for the last 15-20 minutes, so that they will be cooked at the end, but firm. When all is tender, ensure that the stock/juices are reduced until consistency is slightly syrupy. You might want to pour this off into another pot, as you don’t want your chicken/potatoes overcooking to pulp. Add generous dollops of vinegar five minutes before serving and swirl all the syrupy gorgeousness to coat every morsel. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with last minute drizzles of extra virgin olive oil and chopped parsley. (By courtesy of Christiaan van Graan-de Groen – former chef/butler to Mr Giulio Bertrand, Morgenster Estate)
Menu's Wine of the Week. SeaSalter from Groote Post in the Darling area
is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The Semillon and Sauvignon components were made separately and then blended. 40% of the wine is wooded for 4 months in French oak barrels, the rest is made in tank. We were so impressed with this wine. R250 a bottle on the farm. It does indeed smell of sea mist with some kelp and herbs and minerality too. It sparkles on the palate with lovely fruit acids, a tingle on the front of the tongue, rounding on the end from the Semillon. Refreshing, It has had wood and lees contact and the salt stays on the palate at the end. And it is a food wine. Quite French in style, we suspect that it is headed for some awards in future


In next week’s MENU: White blends, Distell 5 Star brandies Wine Concepts Champagne Fest
16th November 2017


© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169
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Recommendations of products and outside events are not solicited or charged for, and are made at the authors’ pleasure. All photographs, recipes and text used in these newsletters and our blogs are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are usually unsolicited. We prefer to pay for our meals and not be paid in any way by anyone. Whether we are invited or go independently, we don’t feel bad if we say we didn’t like it. Honesty is indeed our best policy. While every effort is made to avoid mistakes, we are human and they do creep in occasionally, for which we apologise. This electronic journal has been sent to you because you have personally subscribed to it or because someone you know has asked us to send it to you or forwarded it to you themselves. Addresses given to us will not be divulged to any person or organisation. We collect them only for our own promotional purposes. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please click here to send us a message and if you wish to be removed fro

Short list of candidates for the Diners Club Wine Maker of the Year and Young Wine Maker of the year

These awards will be presented on Saturday 25th November in Franschhoek. We have been invited and hope to be there if we get accommodation. It is a long way to drive home after midnight
Winemaker of the Year Finalists: Category - Pinotage
  • André Scriven - Rooiberg Pinotage Reserve 2016 (Robertson)
  • Christiaan Groenewald - New Cape Wines - Arendskloof Pinotage 2015 and Eagles Cliff Pinotage 2017 (Worcester)
  • Clayton Reabow - Môreson Widowmaker Pinotage 2015 (Franschhoek)
  • De Wet Viljoen - Neethlingshof Pinotage 2016 (Stellenbosch)
  • Niël Groenewald - Bellingham Homestead Pinotage 2016 (Franschhoek)

Young Winemaker of the Year Finalists: Category - White Wines
  • Charl Schoeman - Simonsig Roussanne 2016 and Roussanne Marsanne 2016 (Stellenbosch)
  • Murray Barlow - Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016 (Stellenbosch)
  • Philip Viljoen - Bon Courage Chardonnay Unwooded 2017 and Noble Late Harvest 2016 (Weisser Riesling/Gewürztraminer) (Robertson)
  • Wade Roger-Lund - Jordan Blanc de Blancs Méthode Cap Classique 2015 (Stellenbosch)


What is on the Menu this week? Pollo Orvietana - Chicken with Kalamata olives and Balsamic vinegar

We first had this lovely summery dish at Morgenster when, several years ago, we were invited to lunch with owner Giulio Bertrand and it was prepared by his chef. If you can get hold of the Morgenster Balsamic and their Olive Oil it will be superb. Lynne cooked it for friends this weekend as a simple supper and it was delicious, so we thought it might be time to reprise this recipe.
8 jointed chicken pieces – seasoned flour - Extra Virgin olive oil - fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and oregano) - 2 bay leaves - 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
16 kalamata olives - 3 or 4 large peeled potatoes, cut in quarters or eighths - Balsamic vinegar di Modena

Dust the chicken joints with flour, braise with herbs until golden in olive oil. Add olives and stock, and par-cook chicken for about 15 minutes. Add potatoes for the last 15-20 minutes, so that they will be cooked at the end, but firm (not cooked to a mash). When all is tender, ensure that the stock/juices are reduced until consistency is slightly syrupy. You might want to pour this off into another pot, as you don’t want your chicken/potatoes overcooking to pulp. Add generous dollops of vinegar five minutes before serving and swirl all the syrupy gorgeousness to coat every morsel. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with last minute drizzles of extra virgin olive oil and chopped parsley. (By courtesy of Christiaan van Graan-de Groen – former chef/butler to Mr Giulio Bertrand, Morgenster Estate)

MENU’s Wine of the Week. Groote Post SeaSalter

SeaSalter from Groote Post in the Darling area is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The Semillon and Sauvignon components were made separately and then blended. 40% of the wine is wooded for 4 months in French oak barrels, the rest is made in tank
We were so impressed with this wine. It sells for R250 a bottle on the farm and you may find it in some of the better wine merchants such as Wine Concepts, Caroline's or Sunset Beach. Only 2000 bottles were made. It does indeed smell of sea mist with some kelp and herbs and minerality too. It sparkles on the palate with lovely fruit acids, a tingle on the front of the tongue, rounding on the end from the Semillon. Refreshing, It has had wood and lees contact and the salt stays on the palate at the end. And it is a food wine. Quite French in style, we suspect that it is headed for some awards in future

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Groote Post launches their SeaSalter white blend at the Cape Grace

Minerality in wine is 'a good thing'; it adds to the complexity. Sometimes, a little salt is found in wine. It is not a negative flavour and adds some nice savouriness, it helps to highlight other flavours and aromas in the wine, as it does in food and it often comes from the same areas. We look for it in wines from Darling, Durbanville and other West Coast areas. Groote Post has some in this new Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend just released by the Pentz family of Groote Post and it is an impressive wine. We were invited to taste it and six of their other wines this week at the Cape Grace Hotel
This interesting wine made from 73% Sauvignon Blanc and 27% Semillon. 50% was aged for 4 months in 500 litre French Oak barrels and it was bottled in April 2016
Trade and media were invited to taste this wine at the Cape Grace
Our welcome drink was Groote Post Brut Rosé MCC; 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, it has lovely strawberry and raspberry hints, nice yeasty brioche. Red berry flavours, crisp and juicy
Nick Pentz, owner of Groote Post and wine maker Lukas Wentzel
Cool
The wines, ready to taste
Nick gave us some background to the wines. Neil Ellis was an inspiration to Darling when he came seeking different grapes from good vineyards in the 1990s when quotas fell away, which was when Groote Post made its first planting of Sauvignon Blanc, and this led the way for other grapes. The Old Man's Blend they make is named for Nick’s father, Peter Pentz. He was farmer of the year in 1998, but not for wine, for milk! Nick told us that this new wine, SeaSalter, takes Sauvignon Blanc to a different level with its saltiness and dustiness. They have made Semillon for a couple of years; the blocks were planted specifically to put into a white blend. West Coast and specifically Darling minerality plays a part and the ocean smell on warm beaches is there too. It is named after a village in the Canterbury District of Kent in England which Nick visited. He thought that the name just suited this wine to a T. The Atlantic Ocean is just 6 Km from the farm and he says, "the packaging has to reflect the west coast with its ice sea, standing on the beach with the waves crashing on broken shells and the resultant salty invigorating ocean smell"
The family line up of Peter Pentz, his wife Lesley, Nick's daughter Nicki and his wife Annelie
Winemaker Lukas Wentzel with Sales manager Wimpie Borman. We learned that Groote Post is 30% down on crop this year, that the vines are all dry land but the drought is playing a part. Nick Pentz says that the next three to four years will show who is whom with the grape shortage. They say their good soil will see them through, but it is likely to be a reduced harvest. They are now taking out more leaves in the vineyard; canopy management is key or the wines become too acidic.
The tasting began with the Groote Post Kapokberg 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. It is full if the lovely Sauvignon flavours and aromas of fig leaves, green pepper and elderflower, clean and crisp with a lovely golden mouthfeel, zingy and with good texture. Lukas finds blackcurrants on their Sauvignons Blanc and when we looked, so did we. They use Diam corks. We then tasted the 2015 Kapokberg and it was very different. Unusual but pleasant, there is nutty sesame on the nose and some warm linen, and more sesame on the palate with crisp green apples. This is showing some rewards of aging and is very enjoyable
Lukas guided us through the wines. Next came the Groote Post Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 with golden fruit on the nose and a slight smoke whiff. Lemon and lime crisp on the palate. Then the Groote Post Darling Hills Semillon 2015. A waxy semillon nose with pears and oil. Refreshing on the palate with crisp limes, lemons and juicy William pears. This wine has had a little wood maturation. It will age beautifully. The 2009 Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc is full of tinned asparagus on the nose, more golden fruit. notes too. Crisp on the palate with a slight bitterness on the end. Lukas told us this was the old style, which they are not making anymore
And then finally it was time to taste the SeaSalter. The Semillon and Sauvignon components were made separately and then blended. 40% of the wine is wooded; the rest is made in tank. We were so impressed with this wine; it is our Wine of the Week. R250 a bottle on the farm. It does indeed smell of sea mist with some kelp and herbs and minerality too. It sparkles on the palate with lovely fruit acids, a tingle on the front of the tongue, rounding on the end from the Semillon. Refreshing, it has had wood and lees contact and the salt stays on the palate at the end. And it is a food wine. Quite French in style, we suspect it’s headed for some awards in future
Then it was time for some food to go with the rest of the wines in our glasses. We were very impressed with the spread that the Cape Grace Hotel prepared. Trays of the canapés were offered and there was a large table at the end of the room. This tray has a vegetarian medley with spiced chickpeas and vegetables; on the spoons are shaved springbok with poached pears (interesting pairing), a butternut soup, small light as air curried chicken vol au vents topped with raita and rosti topped with slices of rare fillet steak and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. All excellent
The duck spring rolls with the Hoisin dipping sauce were very popular
Small crisp sesame coated salmon fish cakes
And some small spinach and feta quiches topped with a small roasted tomato
Those delicious rostis topped with fillet and mushrooms in sauce
Lukas finding out what the food is from our friendly server
Father and son, Peter and Nick Pentz
And a toast for NIck's family with Lukas and Wimpie with PRO Posy Hazell in the centre. A very enjoyable tasting indeed

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ocean Basket summer celebration at Canal Walk

To Ocean Basket to sample some of the new Mediterranean menu
Over the last year we have been asked by Ocean Basket management to sample new ideas in their menus and give suggestions. Last week, we were invited to Canal Walk Ocean Basket with several other members of the media to hear about and taste what they are currently launching. This was their Summer Celebration, where we could taste some of the new ideas they have for food in the restaurants. They have been moving to a more Mediterranean style and doing their best to work around the diminishing suppy of sustainable fish. And we were told to come hungry.  And this after the lunch at Bellevue!
On arrival, we would sample some of the new cocktails they are selling. Strawberry daiquiris, Mojitos, Margaritas, Piña Coladas or Long Island iced tea; they cost R35 for a glass or R125 for a litre carafe to share. There is also Sangria at R110 per carafe. We asked for something sour as we found the cocktails a bit sweet for our wine-loving palates
We then had a glass of Villiera Bubbly. We are rather impressed with the new wine list which will feature 4 and 4½ star Platter Guide wines, many of them very affordable. This young man is an excellent sommelier
The Master of Ceremonies opened proceedings by getting some of us to tell the others who we were and who we worked for. "It is all about mixing cocktails, the DJ's music, food and people", he said
We were in one of the side rooms of the restaurant. There was a disco as well
Marlet Podrash, who was an enthusiastic blogger, has been invited by Ocean Basket to put together the new menu
Then it was time for food and first some sushi. This was a successful dish of tuna sashimi with a sesame and garlic mayo and some chopped black olives, and soy & balsamic dressing. Incongruous as it sounds, it really works
Then some platters of different sushi. Salmon Roses topped with crisp potato spaghetti, One with tempura prawn and avo and fresh basil in the middle, nigiri topped with fresh tomato
Some avo and some cucumber maki, some tuna rolls, a couple with tuna and feta cheese
Four wines we could sample off the new wine list. They are all good and very drinkable indeed
And there were some called Coriander bombs, covered in a fresh coriander sauce. Also tuna tulips topped with the same coriander cream and raw or pickled red onion; salmon roses, and crunchy Athena California rolls
Then we moved on to some white anchovy fillets - Spanish Boccarones - topped with a tomato onion and olive salsa
Then the Mezze platter which has fried halloumi cheese, tzatziki, taramasalata, Amazeballs - tomato flavoured rice balls that children love, Firecracker squid in batter that might be a bit hot for some, deep fried prawns and some salmon bites. And some Greek salad in the corner. This also comes with a small bowl of the squid
Warm grilled polpetti baby squid with tomato and olives
Cheryl Hunter of Chimera Communication Architects looks after Ocean Basket's public relations
Two versions of dessert from the menu, thank heavens in mini glasses, not how they are normally served. On the left vanilla ice cream with rose Turkish delight and rose syrup. On the right, ice cream with Sesame Halva and a butter toffee sauce. We had some coffee and then it was time to head home, but no supper was needed that night

The launch of Bellevue’s 1953 Pinotage and new restaurant.

We visited Bellevue Wine Estate in Bottelary recently to taste their wines and they told us that their new restaurant and wine tasting venue would be opening soon and that we would be invited. This launch took place last week and it was also their opportunity to launch an iconic new wine, 1953 Pinotage, made from the vineyards planted on Bellevue 64 years ago. Pinotage vines (a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault - aka Hermitage - propagated by Professor Abraham Perold in 1925) were planted on Bellevue in 1953 by PK Morkel. The grapes for the first commercially produced Pinotage were harvested from these vines and made into this original South African wine which sold under the Lanzerac label, owned at the time by Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery. Bellevue is an historic wine estate (established in 1701) with its original Cape Dutch homestead built in 1803. The new modern facilities complement the original farm buildings
Inside the tasting room
Nice packaging for a case of the Canto MCC Brut which was served to us on arrival. Canto is a Boutique winery in Durbanville owned by Marinus Neethling, who also owns Bellevue. This sparkler is made from 100% Chardonnay from Stellenbosch grapes
Some pizza slices were served as canapés
Some of the old wine and spirit making equipment graces the back wall of the room where the coffee station is situated
Nice use of an old workbench!
Tables had been set up on the lawn for the wine tasting. There is plenty of outdoor space for tables and umbrellas and its child friendly. It was a hot day
Later, lunch would be served on the shaded stoep
Previous owner of Bellevue Dirkie Morkel, who is still working and living on the farm, chatting to Julian Richfield
One of the chefs
Time to begin the tasting. We were welcomed by owner Marinus Neethling. He is a very successful property developer in the area. When Lynne asked him why he bought a wine farm he said he likes to grasp opportunities when he sees them. He is also a very keen wine lover. Bellevue winemaker Wilhelm Kritzinger is on the left 
Dirkie Morkel told us a lot of the history of the farm and the history of Pinotage Professor Perold first crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsault in 1924. It produced many different clones but he thought that chose what he thought was the most successful one. Seeds of this clone were found and cultivated and only one grew into a vine, the mother of all South African Pinotages. In 1953, Dirkie’s father wanted to plant Grenache but was recommended to plant Pinotage. Bottled from 1959 by Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery as Lanzerac Pinotage, the wine was sold to them by Dirkie’s father. In 1999 the wine won the General Smuts Trophy and the first PK Morkel Pinotage, named for Dirkie's uncle, almost won Wine of the Year. Dirkie loves his wines; he prefers the Burgundian style which is more feminine and lighter and says the wines show much better as they age. While many Pinotages are grown on bush vines, Bellevue's newer vineyards are trellised. This bears double the crop compared to bush vines, but they do have to control the crop size to get good quality. The original 1953 vineyard, which is still producing, is bush vines. He says his wines have the flavours of maraschino cherries and plums in them. Winemakers only manipulate, the wine is made in the vineyard
Time to begin the tasting. First the 2015 Pinotage. Cherries and dark berries with some maraschino and vanilla on the nose. Soft sweet fruit, some chalky tannins, warmth with red plums and red cherries on the palate. Wood supports the fruit but is not intrusive and it has a long finish. New style, no metallic flavours or banana at all
Winemaker Wilhelm Kritzinger told us all about his successful wine making career and his techniques and ably guided us through the tasting
Next was the newly released 2016 '1953' Pinotage, the current vintage. Matured in new French oak barrels. A similar nose to the 2015 with those maraschino cherries and some perfume; very pretty, almost Italianate as there were some violets. Silky soft on the palate, with grippy chalky tannins, cherries and prune plums. Will age beautifully
Wilhelm told us that Pinotage ferments fast; it can be like a runaway train and can go down to 10 balling in one night. It also needs air; when they went from open kuipe to closed tanks they had to circulate the winer through a sprayer to add oxygen. It is lighter on yeast and nitrogen and there are never any stuck fermentations. They have 40 hectares of Pinotage on Bellevue, a huge asset. We also tasted a tank sample of the 2017 which is filled with plums and prunes, chalky tannins and dark liquorice wood. This will age well in bottle
New owner of Bellevue, Marinus Neethling and his wife
Chef tells us what he will be serving for lunch
The first course was a tranche of smoked salmon and asparagus pate with a mango and litchi drizzle
Lynne who asked for no dairy, was served a large salad of beetroot, butternut, creamy goats cheese and assorted leaves and herbs. We drank the Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc made by Anika Potgieter, who was presently in France. This was awarded a gold medal at Veritas. Initially she made it with lots of green grass and nettles with grapefruit - a bit harsh and aggressive, it is now more tropical in style, friendlier and easier to pair with food. Full of elderflower on the nose and palate, with a lovely full mouth feel
Our main course was a reformed springbok shank; tender shreds of long-cooked springbok wrapped back onto its bone, on a creamy, cheesy yellow maize pap (polenta) with a few carrots and beans and a good meaty jus. This was rich and not at all criminal
We drank the new release, the 2016 '1953' Pinotage with the main course and it was indeed a lovely match. This is a very, very good Pinotage, even for those who are not huge fans of Pinotage, like Lynne. Artfully wooded, it is soft and sophisticated. Will age very well and probably win lots of awards. R545 a bottle on the farm
We also had the 2014 Malbec. With notes of wild berries, herbs and incense wood, this cracker of a wine is full of red, black and blue berries, with lots of earthy wildness on the palate. Yum. A good expression of this grape. Will age well too .R100 on the farm
Wilhelm with his young schnauser
Dessert was a warm camembert with nuts, honey and some berries
A quiet courtyard with a pink bougainvillea. Thank you Bellevue for a very good tasting and lunch