Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Gin and Zin with Blaauwklippen at La Mouette

And so begins the Gin Revolution
There is suddenly a huge renaissance for gin in South Africa. Not only are gin bars springing up everywhere, but new gins are appearing some from large alcohol producers and from small artisanal producers. Respected wine farms are also producing their own interesting gins. We have been involved a little bit in sourcing botanicals and aromatics for some of the producers and we love good gin. So we were very excited to be invited to taste three new gins last week, produced on Blaauwklippen Estate. The gins were presented at the annual Zinfandel lunch, held this year at La Mouette Restaurant, where a superb lunch was paired with Blaauwklippen Zinfandel wines and the gins
La Mouette is on Regent Road on Sea Point
All the usual media suspects gathering on the porch to chat to Rolf Zeitvogel, talented GM, Winemaker and Distiller at Blaauwklippen
A welcome glass of Diva, their Zinfandel MCC, the first in South Africa, full of lively spirited cranberry flavours
Rolf chatting with journalists Fiona MacDonald (Whiskey Magazine) and Greg Landman (Country Life magazine)
Winnie Bowman CWM with PR agent Nicolette Waterford
La Mouette staff busy at work
The canapés looked like they had come from a fairy garden!
And the signature canapé at La Mouette, the small, lighter than air cheese croquettes with a truffle aioli
Clifford and Maryke Roberts with Samarie Smith of Media 24
Fairy story canapés
Rolf with Greg Mutambe, Sommelier of the 12 Apostles Hotel
Time to start lunch
Rolf announces the new Hand Crafted Premium Gins’ flavours: One is a citrus infusion; one is 100% Juniper Berry and the third has African Botanicals. The Citrus is refined, with lemon zest whiffs on the nose and adds a lovely warm and spicy lemon note to any gin. The Juniper has intense juniper berry flavours and aromas and is quite hot and concentrated. The African Botanicals are intriguing and interesting, adding lots of different local herbs and green flavours, even a note of buchu
Nicolette Waterford listening intently
Time for lunch. The bread selection, all made in the kitchen, is really adventurous and enjoyable
Greg Mutambe studying the menu and the food and wine pairings
With the starter, we sampled the newly released 2015 White Zinfandel. First released in 2008, this one is a teenager, full of perfumed fruit and savoury notes on the nose, cranberries, crisp, light, but a red wine if you close your eyes, with warm alcohol and long wild flavours
Served with the white Zinfandel were crisp salt and pepper prawns dusted with togarashi peppers on slices of soft celeriac with chimichurri, pickled cucumber, a chipotle mayonnaise for some zing and strange carbonised onion
A vegetarian dish for those who don't eat seafood
Journalists Greg Landman and Neil Pendock
The second course, served with the 2014 Diva MCC (leesy, yeasty with good limes & lemons, lovely and lean with an exciting crisp mousse), was a small summer Caesar salad topped with a quail egg, parmesan flakes, crispy pancetta and Worcester sauce caviar
The main course of such tender and flavourful gemsbok (oryx) loin, served with onion spaghetti in a good jus. Tasty as they were, the dish didn't really need the house cured bresaola or the bolognese, which detracted; it was complete on its own.
This was served with an incredibly powerful wine at the peak of its performance, the 2009 Zinfandel Reserve red. Incense from expensive oak and spice on the nose and as smooth as silk on the palate with a lovely tingle on the tongue. Cassis, cranberries, mulberries and allspice all combine into a perfect fruit melange. So good and perfect for the Gemsbok. If you are lucky enough to have some, drink now

The new gins are served for us to taste. You could have them neat, with ice or with a local tonic, Fitch & Leedes, said to be less sweet than Schweppes. This was the Juniper. Around the room, everyone had their favourites, none predominated
To accompany the three gins, this dish was very cleverly concocted by the kitchen: A tonic jelly, a lemon sorbet, lemon curd and meringue. It was like a scientific experiment, so many different flavours and textures: sticky, powdery, chilly, crisp and flaky with a hint of cucumber below. And it did indeed go well as a foil with all the gins
Then with the main dessert, the Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Grappa Reserve, as Rolf says, a VIP mampoer, aged in used French oak brandy barrels for 3 years. It did slightly resemble a brandy with caramel smoke, apricot and some herbal notes. And a beautiful bottle
An unsugared coffee granita, almond sponge crumbs, a crisp sliver of dehydrated chocolate and an amaretto gel (not enough amaretto, kitchen!) topped with Mascarpone ice cream. The chocolate was extraordinarily delicious
The lovely table decor
A happy & contented Mark Norrish of Ultra liquors
We could choose a bottle each to take home. John chose the Botanical and Lynne the Citrus. We are enjoying them very much
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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