Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Glen Carlou celebrates Arco Laarman's 20th year as a winemaker

Arco’s winemaking career started as a worker with Danie Steytler in the cellar at Kaapzicht. After a few years there, winemaker David Finlayson appointed him assistant winemaker at Glen Carlou and, when the Finlaysons sold the farm to the Hess Family Estates and David left, Arco took over as Cellarmaster. Over the years, he has experimented with different barrels for the wines they make and has also made wines from grapes sourced elsewhere, often rare varieties. These are now being released as The Curator’s Collection and are available only on the farm. We were invited to lunch to celebrate his winemaking career and to taste these very interesting wines.
The view from Glen Carlou looking towards Paarl on a day when there was a fire in Bains Kloof
The tasting room, all set up for the event
Girls just gotta have fun in the tasting room. Or standing out on the terrace admiring the view
We take our seats for the tasting
This is the line up of the wines we tasted in The Curator’s Collection. From the left: A barrel sample of 2015 Chenin Blanc; the 2013 Chenin Blanc; a barrel sample of the 2015 Viognier; the 2010 Tannat; the 2011 Malbec; and everyone’s favourite, a barrel sample of the 2013 Cabernet Franc which has spent two years in Sylvain barrels. It has 10% Tannat added and will be released shortly. It is a very interesting wine: herbal green with basil and buchu on the nose, opening out to berries and vanilla wood. The palate is soft, juicy and so delicious. It is savoury, almost meaty, full of berries with some herbs at the end. The intense fruit flavours remain
Everyone tweeting?
Arco with Johan Erasmus, GM of Glen Carlou. Johan thinks that Arco is one of the most underrated winemakers in the Cape. Some of us so agree
Johan gives us a run down on Arco’s career at Glen Carlou. Their Sales & Marketing Manager, Georgie Prout, is on the right

Arco explains why he started making the Curator wines. It began by his earmarking the best barrels in each vintage and then being offered different and interesting wines to vinify. Both the Chenins come from the Agter Paarl region from older vines. They both have very good acid/fruit balance and are true to type and very enjoyable
Concentration required - Platter editor Philip van Zyl through a glass, clearly
Johan Erasmus, GM of Glen Carlou
Two vintages of Kaapzicht’s Danie Steytler, Father and son
An aperitif before lunch was the Glen Carlou MCC 2007
We get some sun on the terrace
Arco with Danie and a bottle of the prize-winning Kaapzicht 1996 Pinotage. Arco is one of the few winemakers who has not had a formal college or university education in wine. Danie encouraged Arco and taught him at Kaapzicht in Arco’s first job when he displayed his keenness to study and make wine, and then helped him get the job at Glen Carlou to train under David Finlayson
Johan Erasmus thanking Danie for coming and for his influence on Arco
The lunch menu
The mushroom butter was delicious and very clever
What we drank with the starter. 2013 Curator’s Collection Chenin Blanc
Beginning the meal
The Amuse Bouche. A mini smoked salmon and belnori goats cheese roulade with pickled candy beetroot with a horseradish cream
Use third one Starter was a quail ballotine with butternut puree, chorizo, mushrooms and figs. John got no mushrooms, as requested. Lynne missed out on the figs
Main Course was a rare ostrich fillet en crepinette with poached pear, buttered curried lentils and a thyme demi-glace. The pear was a lovely foil to the rich ostrich and the perfect demi-glace sauce. The lentils did not go with, and were far too curried for, the delicate ostrich. This was served with the Curator’s Collection 2010 Tannat and it showed its strengths as a food wine
The Welder, 2013 Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc, served with Dessert
Canoli (deep fried pasta dough) filled with sweetened lemon mascarpone, passion fruit sorbet and pineapple. The flavours mirrored the wine
Arco Laarman, Chef Johan Stander and Marketing manager Georgie Prout
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015
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