Friday, August 29, 2014

Top 10 Chenin blanc Awards at Delaire Graff

Chenin Blanc could be the wine that defines South African wines worldwide and seeing the huge advances in quality, style, sophistication and good marketing of the winners this year, it is possible to believe that this might happen soon.  IF ONLY we had government support to promote SA wines overseas.  Standard Bank are the involved sponsors of these awards and do a very good job to see that their support goes not just into the awards but into the community.  Each of the top 10 wines were awarded R20,000 with the proviso that this money is used in their local community for upliftment.  And there are some very good initiatives. 
The Awards were followed by an excellent lunch produced by Exec Chef Christaan Campbell who gave us 5 courses, each perfectly matched to two of the winning wines.
Arriving on a really stormy day
We assembled in the Lounge
Drinking some bubblies made from Chenin Blanc and standing next to a lovely roaring fire
Canapes came around. These were small choux buns filled with a butternut puree
General Manager of Delaire Graff Johann Laubser chatting to Christine Rudman and Lacea Smit of Spier
Another tray of delicious canapés. These delicious deep fried rosti balls were stuffed surprisingly with lovely smoked trout
The crowd swells
These were the Bubblies we were drinking, all made from Chenin blanc by the Methode Cap Classique
Another very interesting canapé.  A firm cone stuffed with beef tartare and topped with sour cream  Some found this a little difficult to eat
Journalist Norman McFarlane with David Sonnenberg, owner of Diemersfontein
Executive Chef Christiaan Campbell with Ilse Distin, DGR Restaurant Reservations Manager
Shanté Hutton in her snood with Mike Bampfield Duggan
Chairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, Ken Forrester opens proceedings
We are all awaiting the names of the top 10 Chenins
Winnie Bowman CWM with Mark Norrish, Ultra Liquors Wine selector
A table full of winners and media
These were the interesting accompaniments to bread: a thick Mushroom paté, fresh labneh cheese, flake salt and black pepper and beef dripping with, possibly, a truffle aroma
Christian Eedes announces the awards
The mainstay of the Chenin Blanc Association, the person who quietly and with great assurance makes things happen, Ina Smith
All the award winners in a group shot
The very interesting menu could then be handed out because it contains the list of the winners; two of each were served with the five courses
A cold smoky umami broth containing balls of very fresh raw tuna, a pineapple mousse and herbs.  This perfectly picked up the nuances of the two supporting wines even if the cold broth was not universally appreciated.   We had tasted the Perdeberg this week, before the awards and we knew when we did that this was an award winning wine.  It performs far, far above its class.
With the glasses required for every course, our tables became quite crowded. Most people only sip the wines but you do want to return to them later, to see how they have opened up or how they go with different dishes
A perfectly cooked piece of rare and tender quail on a bed of creamy millet accompanied by a quenelle topped with toasted almond. We almost never see millet these days so this was refreshing and has inspired some of us to find some.
The next course was of cured oysters served with fresh de-skinned peas and broad beans, with pea shoots and flowers in an oyster broth

Lynne’s alternative was a beautiful thick slice of smoked salmon served in a similar way
Simonsig wine maker Hannes Meyer
Our table companions were Reinhilde and her husband winemaker Christaan Visser, both of Villiera
Craig Polkinghorne Head of Business Banking at Standard Bank told us what the winners were going to do with their awards to improve their local community.  Many were contributing to the Pebbles Project which works with children affected by alcohol. Others were supporting local schools and crèches and renovating workers restrooms, supporting local schools with container classrooms, computers, printers, buses and trucks to get kids and supplies to school, after school homework and other projects and Villiera are supporting a school leavers project to make sure they get trained and get jobs.  The money is obviously being used wisely and carefully
Johan van Wyk, Western Cape Provincial Director at Standard Bank Group
Ken Forrester thanking the sponsors, Standard Bank
We don’t have a photograph of the main course of Happy hog pork belly and neck served with apple, pear and parsley but of special note were the small compressed green apple balls which added so much perfume and flavour to the dish and cut through the lovely rich pork so well
And finally dessert . And cleverly, because we did not have any sweeter Chenins, Christiaan served a savoury ‘dessert’. A Huguenot cheese brulée with salted pecan nuts and flavours of minneola oranges as a purée dotted on the plate
The Chef and the Organiser! Both talented people
Although the weather was awful and we were hit with a huge storm during lunch the views were superb
Sunlight and rain hitting the mountain and vineyards of Thelema across the valley
And as we left, the sun came out,  highlighting the new spring bud break on the vines. A lovely event

The Top 10 wines are listed below, followed by the cellar door price and an extract from the panel’s tasting report:
·         Bellingham The Old Orchard's 2013 (R95) – “Rich and ripe”;
·         Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2013 (R141) – “Very stylish”;
·         KWV The Mentors 2012 (R160) – “Concentrated and pure”;
·         Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented 2013 (R73) “A powerful but well balanced wine”;
·         Remhoogte Honeybunch Reserve 2013 (R150) – “A good line of acidity ensures balance”;
·         Rijk’s Cellars Private Cellar 2009 (R130) – “A blockbuster”;
·         Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne 2010 (R110) – “Really well executed”;
·         Spier Woolworths Private Collection 2013 (Woolworths price: R109.95) – “Totally seductive”;
·         Stellenrust 2014 (R44) – “Really flavourful”; and

·         Villiera Traditional Barrel Fermented 2014 (R94.50) – “Shows real finesse and balance
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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