Thursday, July 24, 2014

Launch of De Grendel's big, new Op Die Berg Chardonnay in Durbanville

De Grendel’s wines always impress; the restaurant produces very good food, the wines are excellent and the farm has one of the best views of Table Bay and the mountain. On Tuesday, we joined a group of wine and food writers to taste this wine, ‘Op die Berg’ 2013 Chardonnay, paired with a three course menu prepared by chef Ian Bergh and his team, who are all on show in their open kitchen
The Chardonnay grown on this Durbanville farm has been used in The Winifred, their recently discontinued white blend, and their MCC, which is where they will continue using it. The Chardonnay vines on their Ceres farm are now ready and their grapes have been improving so much over recent years that they wanted to produce it on its own. The wine is big and bold, leesy, with perfume and slight smoke on the nose. It has been in oak for 8 months and has a full, rich mouthful of buttery golden delicious apples, then marmalade, followed by some dark toasted oak, which will soften with time. It has long, defined flavours and goes very well with food
The sad news is that this Chardonnay means the sacrifice of The Winifred blend of chardonnay, Semillon and Viognier. We are trying to encourage them to try to continue making this elegant wine which we love, by finding or growing some more chardonnay!

The tasting room terrace has wonderful views of Cape Town
We met in the private dining room and were welcomed by Restaurant manager Gerrie Dreyer with a glass of their own MCC, 2012 vintage, which is is a blend of 76% Chardonnay and 24% Pinot Noir and is beautifully crisp and appley
Public Relations for De  Grendel is handled by Errieda du Toit, who is quite famous for her work with Kokkedoor, the Afrikaans TV cooking programme, which resembles Masterchef in some ways. She has edited the Kokkedoor cookbooks
Lynne chatting to old friends from the media, Michael Olivier and Graham Howe
The wine is poured and we await our first course at the beautifully laid table
The Chardonnay ready on the table, a serving of water is poured
Chef Ian Bergh explains the menu and the pairings
takes questions
and generates some amusement
Winemaker Elzette du Preez has been with Cellarmaster Charles Hopkins at De Grendel for 8 years. She trained at Elsenberg and worked at Backsberg for 6 years before joining the team at De Grendel. Here she tells us all about the wine
Rapt attention - lots of questions followed
Maryna Strachan of Wine Extra listens intently to Elzette
A toast to this new wine
is echoed by all
The menu. Printed in red at the bottom are the tasting notes for the wine which Chef Ian Bergh used to pair the food.
The starter was super soft poached chicken breast in a lovely, gentle but savoury, chardonnay velouté - accompanied by tortellini filled with pea purée, which was also on the plate, as were courgette ribbons. A lovely mix of flavours and textures, but the star was the moist chicken. Peas are a very good match for this wooded chardonnay. A very sophisticated dish
De Grendel has flocks of geese around their dam
The absolutely superb main course. On discussion with the chef, Lynne learned that the crayfish had been cooked sous vide, which accounted for its tenderness and the marvellous flavour of the sea. Bravo! So many people ruin this luxury by overcooking it. The sea bass was also perfectly cooked - moist and flaky. The whole dish, balanced on a slightly al dente risotto, was cooked in a stock reduction made from all the roasted shells of the seafood and chardonnay. A triumph. And another perfect match for the Chardonnay, especially the slightly smoky flavour from the roasted shells.
Graham Howe and Errieda enjoying the day
De Grendel has a wedding chapel on its hill
Relaxed members of the media over a great lunch
So simply and beautifully presented: dessert was a small slice of rich pear frangipani tart with apple slices, vanilla ice cream and some dulce de leche (condensed milk) with some toasted crumbs for texture. This was served with the Chardonnay and with a small glass of the De Grendel Noble Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (with 190 g/l sugar), which is full of litchi, citrus, apricot and peach, spice and honey.
The wonderful view of the city and our mountain from De Grendel
A quote we like from their web site: “De Grendel Restaurant is 100 percent South African. Farm produce and ingredients, sourced from local suppliers, are given an inventive, modern edge. Home-grown South African chefs and staff are employed and trained to international standards, generating jobs for local people.”
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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