Monday, September 14, 2015

Klein Karoo wines paired with lunch at Cabrières venue in Montagu

A Toast to Diversity, Klein Karoo Wine Route Awayday
We have some really lovely invitations, this month and next, to visit wine areas. It is a long way to Montagu, so we gratefully accepted the offer of transport there and back and it was worth every long mile. We spent the day at the Cabrières venue. This unique venue situated in Montagu on the R62, named after the small village of Cabrières d’Avignon in the south of France, dates back to the 1800’s. Jean-Pierre Jordaan and his wife Jane Chambers started the restoration process of the building, which now serves as the venue after a generation of dormancy. We tasted some of the best wines from the Klein Karoo, enjoyed the company of the wine makers and had a lovely lunch paired with the food
When did you last taste some mampoer? It is our version of moonshine, made from fruit. A warm welcome indeed with a glass of pear mampoer diluted with lemon and lemonade. Heady stuff, and you must not drink much of it
 The wines served with lunch

The magnificent views from the venue of the vineyards and the rolling mountains of Montagu
It is quite a line up
The long table
Chairman of the Klein Karoo winemakers, Mike Neebe of Axe Hill, tells us about the area and the different farms and wines that are made here
The dishes and wines were arranged in an innovative theme. Our first course, the amuse bouche, was themed Acidity : Fresh "Semi dried" tomatoes filled with Karoo goats cheese, on with litchi and apple, one with coriander and the third with dried pear. They'd had most of their juices taken out of them and were a little tough, but uncooked. A technique we have not had before. The pear 'crisp' was lovely
The wonderful serving staff
Hetta van Deventer, author, food historian and culinary manager at La Motte, planned all the food and wine pairing for the day. The chef was Toitnette du Toit
The clock on the wall ceased to chime many years ago
The menu with the wine pairings on the right hand side
The three wines with the amuse were fruity and light to match the acidity. We loved the Karusa Litchi Bomb, aptly named, full of litchis and jasmine, a wine made for spicy hot food. Only R50 a bottle
Theme for the next course was Texture and it was a creamy corn soup in a tiny cup, accompanied by an iced lolly of mint, spiced apple and gingerbread. This really worked as a course and was indeed a great mixture of textures and temperatures. We all wanted more of the creamy soup, which still had some corn texture. All the wines were an excellent match too, hard to separate them but the results were all different. The gingerbread added lots of spice to the wines and the food. The Axe Hill Viognier went beautifully with the soup. The Joubert Tradauw barrel fermented 2013 Chardonnay is made in the Chablis style, making it clean and fresh with good minerality and was our highest scoring white wine of the day. The Star Hill Chenin, made by Laurens van der Westhuizen of Arendsig, echoed the lolly with its long, clean crisp apple flavours
Ellen Marais introduced us to the theme of the event, the food, the wines and the people responsible
The next course theme was Flavour and was very unusual. The wines were all alternative cultivars from the area. Rice balls stuffed with spicy pulled pork & cranberries, a cherry jus and a dish of Mukhwas - an Indian fennel and other spice candy, which is usually served to refresh the palate as you leave the restaurant. We like the dish but found the candy overpowered the wines. The smoked pork was a bit too smoky for the delicate Herold Pinot Noir. It was better with the Calizdorp Touriga with vanilla, mulberries and exciting acidity - almost the perfect match in flavour and weight. The De Krans Tina Roriz was too sophisticated for the pork balls.
Chef Toitnette dressing the dish
Boets Nel of De Krans talking about his 2013 Tinta Roriz, full of expensive wood notes, cassis, spice; it's almost shiraz character is silky on the palate with dry tannins and cherries. A wine built to last
Staff in the kitchen assembling the next course
With the theme of Spice, wines were Blends from Portuguese varietals. They served salted lamb ribs with a cameline dipping sauce, a medieval French sauce with vinegar, fresh ginger, cinnamon, grains of paradise, mace and pepper. The lamb overpowered the Calitzdorp Tinto. The Boplaas Gamka blend was the absolute perfect match to the rich salty and spicy dish; its aroma echoed that of the Cameline. And then there was the De Kranz Tritonia. Rich, deep attractive fruit, violets cherries cassis a block buster wine and, by half a point, our highest scoring red wine of the day.
Fifth course theme was Weight. And believe it or not, because all the courses were quite small yet satisfying, we were not worried at this stage. Karoo game Potjie (cast iron casserole) with samp (whole dried white sweetcorn, reconstituted) topped with a marrow bone. The meat was a little dry, but with the rich marrow mixed into it and the rich sauce sweetened with carrot. It so well matched the excellent wines
The wines served were Traditional red wines. The Star Hill Shiraz was juicy, spicy and had lovely lingering fruit, the Joubert Tradauw R62 has sweet and sour umami fruit and was undoubtedly the best match with the dish. The Karusa Petit Shiraz (actually a grape called Durif), spicy on the nose, was a bit lighter, with dry fruit on the palate
Jacques Conradie, Winemaker at Karusa
The chef Toitnette with Hetta van Deventer and her helper got long and loud applause for the meal and the pairing
Chef Francois Ferreira in the kitchen with the cooks
Lynne groaned when she saw the description of dessert “Fruitcake with the theme Sweetness”. She is not much of a cake fan, especially fruitcake when it is dry. But this wonderment appeared and nothing could have been further from that. A light base of moist pumpkin spice cake, topped with cream, filled with nuts and soaked raisins and a hint of alcohol. Topped with a chocolate ganache and, for elegance, an edible pearl and a dot of gold leaf. This has the potential to become a classic Cape pudding. The sugar tuille and the rosewater syrup were overkill and not needed
And the wines! The muscadel and the Rosyntjiewyn do go well if you have a very sweet tooth, but with this dessert the ports have it. The Caramel toffee of the Axe Hill hides its crisp lean apple brandy flavours below. The Peter Bayly Cape Vintage was full of rich dark Thornton’s treacle toffee, lovely rich fruit and damned elegant.
Johannes Mellet of VinPro Consultation Service and Carlo Sciocatti, Montagu Wine & Spirits winemaker
A happy Peter Bayly
Ellen Marais, who organised this magnificent day in this unique diverse area that produced great food wines from such different areas with cool, warm and hot climates, lowlands and high mountainside vineyards, cool mountain valleys with lots of shade and water to sere, dry areas that are semi desert. Hot talented people, cool wines! As expressed by one of the winemakers talking about the red wines and ports, these are moerse swaar wyne (translation: bloody good heavy wines) to keep 20 years, not in my winery, but in your cellars
A toast to a great event by Peter Bayly and Mike Neebe
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

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