Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Breedekloof dinner at the Cullinan

This annual event, held to showcase the wines of Breedekloof to the media and tour operators, was held this year in the banqueting area of the Cullinan Hotel in town, near the Convention Centre. We were welcomed with glasses of two bubblies from the area. There are four judges who taste all the wines submitted to them and then, working with Personal Chef Neill Anthony, they formulate a menu paired with the wines.
Melody Botha, CEO Breedekloof Wine & Tourism tells us about the area and the farms
Lots of media, travel professionals and Breedekloof people attended. The media were instructed to come dressed semi-formally and indeed we did. There were some lovely cocktail dresses and smart suits.
Personal Chef Neill Anthony explains what we are about to eat and why the pairings were made. The menu was put together last winter and many people commented that perhaps some of the dishes were more suited to cold weather than warm mid-summer.
Convening Judge Duimpie Bayly tells us about the other Judges: Fiona MacDonald, Winnie Bowman CWM and Elsie Pells CWM, the wines and the trust that has been formed to aid young people from the area.
The menu
We started with a very hot and spicy tomato soup which had very crisp acidity and this was such a huge flavour that it rather overwhelmed all the wines we were tasting, which were the Merwida Sauvignon Blanc 2013, the Goudini 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and our favourite, Opstal's 2013 Sixpence, a delicate white blend of Sauvignon and Semillon.
This soup was accompanied by crisp Anacini rice balls with a dusting of truffle and this was a very good match indeed for these three wines.
We are afraid that the fish course was not universally liked. Fillets of Angelfish had been soused in vinegar and steeped in fennel; it had turned the fish texture to something approaching wet blotting paper. The avocado mousse on the side had rather a lot of cayenne pepper added which completely wiped out several palates. The wines served with this course were all good. Goudini Chenin 2013; Botha Chenin 2013; and Slanghoek Chardonnay 2013, Lynne especially liked the Botha and her notes for this article include the word BUY! It is a classic chenin, grassy tropical nose and tasting of guavas and lemon sherbet and is very refreshing and delicious. Sad to say, on looking up its price on their web site, she discovered that it is completely sold out. Deservedly so.
The main course resembled pulled pork; strands of slowly braised pork neck, with all the fat rendered out, but still very rich, served with a rather sweet caramelised apple purée and bay mushrooms. 
As a side dish, we had halved baby potatoes in a grainy mustard cream sauce. This was the dish most thought would be better served in winter, but it did taste good. 
Strangely it was served with another two white wines and then two reds. The Goudini 2013 Chardonnay, full of smoky, leesy limes, was crisp, full, fruity and lengthy. Then came the wine of the evening, the Platter five star Carl Everson 2012 Chenin from Opstal, which everyone wanted to taste, as it has been sold out from the farm for a while. Bottles were held back especially for this tasting. This is a beautifully integrated wine, a great expression of South African Chardonnay, and it was a great match for the pork and apple, echoing the dish's flavours. Deetleef’s Family Red 2011, full of umami and red berries and Bergsig’s Cabernet Sauvignon, which is full of savoury and herbal notes with mulberries and pure cassis, both nicely countered the richness of this dish.
Dessert was rather quirky and some people were puzzled about how to eat this. We each received a paper bag containing four mini sugar-dusted doughnuts and then a plate of thick cream in a lot of vanilla surrounded by biscuit crumbs, in which to dip them. 
Fingers were our order of the day, not knives and forks. We had the treat of tasting four good dessert wines with this rather simple dessert and felt they deserved something more complex. They were arranged so that the wines got sweeter and more complex as we went through them. Bergsig’s semi sweet, elegant honey and floral 2013 Riesling (RS 22), Slanghoek’s Crème de Chenin 2013 Special Late Harvest (RS 85, full of spiced honey with Hanepoot grapes and apricots), Badsberg Badslese 2012 (Platter 5 star, RS 120, full of honey, cigar box, cinnamon and ginger on the nose and thick honey and limes with a little touch of Campari herbs on the palate). And finally De Ankerman, a Nectar de Provision made in a similar way to Pineau de Charante - Sweet merlot grape juice fortified by brandy. RS 201, Heady and thick with honey and fruit. And it is a steal selling at approx. R45 a bottle.
We found a huge improvement in the wines we tasted this year to those tasted at last years dinner. This area is heading fast towards making very drinkable wines and their prices are still very competitive. And there are some real gems in there. Go and explore and taste. It is also an extremely beautiful area to visit.
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014
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