Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Media launch of Gentleman Spirits Eau de Vie and Grappa at Blaauwklippen

A selection of canapés was served to show us how each was improved by a spritz of a particular eau de vie or grappa:
Smoked salmon with an orange flavoured cream cheese and a sprig of dill was sprayed just before eating with an Orange Eau de Vie
A delicious duck parfait with candied beetroot and a miniature plum half was sprayed with Pear William Eau de Vie
Venison Carpaccio was spritzed with a Zinfandel grappa.
One of the spotless stainless steel column stills. The ‘mash’ of fruit is cooked in the bottom copper’ and the spirits are distilled up the column and into the cooling chambers.
After several hours in the column still, being refined and refined, we see the final product of undiluted spirit.
Rolf Zeitvogel, Blaauwklippen’s MD and winemaker, is also one of the 3 Gentlemen partners in the Gentleman Spirits distillery
Urs Gmür, Duimpie Bayly, Sales Manager Billy Martin and Master Distiller Hubertus Vallendar listening to Rolf’s description of the distillation process
Multi-award winning and acknowledged master distiller Hubertus Vallendar explains his philosophy and how it and his process differ from others to produce really fine Eau de Vie and Grappa
The media makes notes while we listen to the presentation and sip on Graham Beck Brut laced with the Orange Eau de Vie
Now-retired industrialist Urs Gmür tells us what he brings to the business
Rolf translates some of the finer points of Hubertus' talk on distillation from the German
The tasting table set up in the new distillery on Blaauwklippen
A metal mural which shows the distilling process graces a wall in the distillery
A display of the range we are about to taste
Natalie Campbell, Events organiser and Rolf's PA, with the range of spirits
Six small glasses that pack an enormous punch
Tweeting, writing and tasting take place at the same time while we listen to the presentation
The  small correct tulip-shaped tasting glass of powerfully aromatic and warm liquor made from  Pear William (Actually local Bon Cretien pears from Elgin are used)
The glass is capped to keep in the volatile aromas and alcohols
We tasted six Spirits; Pear William Spirit, Lemon Eau de Vie and an Orange Liqueur and 3 Grappa’s made from  Zinfandel, Malbec and Shiraz. The intensity of the flavours from the fruit were remarkable and the different grape varieties are also very notable in each Grappa. They intend to produce many more flavours, but will use only ripe, pure local organic fruit for distilling.  At the moment most of the fruit comes from Elgin.
Rolf tells us about the aromas and shows us how to taste the spirits
This still was cooking up a mash of Malbec grapes to make grappa and we then discovered that it was at the perfect temperature of 65°C – to cook the main dish ‘sous vide’ for our lunch after the presentation. A very clever way to do two things at once.
And when they released the mash, out came four wrapped parcels of slowly braised pork neck
We then proceeded to the Blaauwklippen restaurant
to enjoy a three course menu paired with some of the Gentleman Spirits

First course was a rather leafy green garden salad with a few baby squid spritzed with the Lemon Eau de Vie, one of our favourite spirits. We drank Blaauwklippen’s new vintages with the lunch and with this course we really enjoyed the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, full of green figs and tropical notes, crisp and dry; it went well with the dish. And we tasted the Cultivar Selection 2013 Chenin Blanc
These are the Spritzer bottles for the spirits to add aroma and a little extra taste to the dishes. 
The main course was the extremely tender Malbec braised Pork Neck. This was in quite a sweet sauce of peach and Malbec Grappa, sauerkraut, and potatoes three ways:  Potato salad, potato wedges and a rather undercooked butternut and potato dauphinoise. A very Teutonic styled dish. This was served with the Cultivar Selection 2010 Malbec and its savoury flavours completely matched the rich sauce and the spirit in flavour profile.
Dessert was a perfectly made crème brûlée. (Photo courtesy of Nicolette Waterford). We have had some horrible curdled versions recently; this was silky and creamy with a good crack of caramel on the top and a dollop of vanilla ice cream and finely chopped Pistachio nuts.  Spritzed with the (soon to be released) Hazelnut Eau de Vie, it went into another dimension. Wicked
This is a very clever pourer they use to make sure everyone gets the same quantity. We all finished the meal with some of the best coffee we have tasted in a long time from the Roastery on Blaauwklippen. This is what to have with your grappa digestif at the end of a meal.
The restaurant floor is a parquet of oak barrel staves
They were most generous and we were given several sample bottles of the spirits and the wines to take home with us, plus sample packets of ground coffee.  Lynne cannot wait to use the Pear William and Lemon in and on future desserts.
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2013
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