Thursday, April 21, 2016

Backsberg celebrates their Centenary with an end-of-harvest lunch

The rags to riches story of the Back family is inspiring. The original Charles Back arrived as a penniless refugee from Lithuania in 1902 and worked his way up from bicycle delivery 'boy' to owning his own butchery. He and his wife were offered the farm Klein Babylonstoren on the Paarl-facing slopes of the Simonsberg mountain in 1916 and jumped at it. They sold the butchery and became farmers. They farmed some grain, some live stock, some fruit and in time, some wine grapes. The farm was renamed Backsberg. Charles Back also bought the farm Fairview in Agter Paarl and he left a farm to each of his sons, Sidney (Backsberg) and Cyril (Fairview). Today cousins Michael and Charles Back own these two farms. After years of the hard work of four generations, the Back family have grown very successful and produce wines of good reputations that sell. This week current CEO Simon Back (son of Michael) invited some media and wine trade to a lunch to celebrate the end of harvest in Backsberg's new restaurant, This was to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Back family making wine at Backsberg and taste some of the newly released wines with lunch
Pierre Jordaan of Backsberg chats to Alan Mullins MW as we enjoy a glass of Backsberg Brut MCC 2010. The food throughout the lunch was a feast of delights. Canapés were small falafels with a warm chilli sauce and inspired crisp potato wedges topped with herbed cream cheese
A long table had been set up on the terrace in front of the new restaurant
The restaurant has a great mixture of old and new and feels very relaxed, spacious and comfortable.
We love the ceiling of barrel staves and that table in front of the fine is one to go for in the middle of winter. They serve lunch outdoors if the weather is favourable and indoors beside a roaring fire in the chilly months. They do spit braais every Sunday. when the three course set menu is R225 per person. Musician Guy Feldman provides live guitar music
PRO for Backsberg Emil Joubert
Simon Back, 4th generation Backsberg CEO, welcomes us and tells us some of the history of the farm and about the wines and the future
The starter was divided into four small dishes. Not tapas but tastes said the chef to Lynne. A warm and smooth sweet potato soup, a lovely smoked snoek Samoosa that tasted of sea food with a sweet dipping sauce; a slice of spciy chorizo, nicely ripe and ready Languedoc cheese, bread, Humus and piquanté pepper; Honey roasted baby beet on goats milk cheese with pomegranate and rocket, all were enjoyable
This was served with two wines, the well wooded (100% new barrels) 2015 Sonop Chardonnay, rich and creamy, long layers of fruit and depth with apples, yellow plums, apricots and a finish of toasted brioche
and the Family Reserve White blend, an enchanting blend of Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay, Viognier and Semillon. It is a wooded wine but we did not find it over wooded. It is perfumed with notes of flowers, fruit and cigar box. The oily Semillon and nice acidity lights up the palate then the Chardonnay apples and pears take over for a long end. A food wine
Simon Back
Chef Wilhelm Mareé came out to talk about the food
All the wines now have the Backsberg Centenary label. The Family Reserve red a classic Bordeaux blend was served with the main course. It is big, but supple and elegant. We also tasted the Klein Babylonstoren classic Merlot, with incense and violets, cassis and cherries with soft tannins and chocolate and liquorice on the end. Ready to drink now but has age to last, a good SA merlot. and the Pumphouse Shiraz which is like Rolls Royce backfiring very spicy puffs of balsamic cherries, spice and liquorice, the perfect match for the lamb pie main (Photo © Jan Laubscher,
Michael Fridjhon was the guest speaker and he reminisced about his long 40 year working relationship with Backsberg. He worked for Benny Goldbergs, the first wine supermarket in Johannesburg, when Backsberg started selling Estate wine in 1969
He reminded us that Backberg were the founding members of Estate wine in SA and founding partners in modern wine innovation. They still are an Estate and all the wine they produce is grown on the farm. They are about the integrity of terroir but not at the expense of good value
The main course of a very generous Moroccan style lamb pie wrapped in filo pastry, with a sticky Klein Babylonstoren wine jus, sweet carrots, minted fig chutney and fresh fig
(Photo © Jan Laubscher,
Backsberg has released a limited edition Centenary Selection of six wines hand-crafted to perfection by winemaker Alicia Rechner: one bottle each of Roussanne / Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Cape White Blend 2015, Cape Red Blend 2015, Sangiovese / Barbera 2014, Grenache / Shiraz 2014, Malbec 2014 for R1170.  The carton is covered with Backsberg labels from the past. Backsberg also produce a Kosher wine Range: Sparkling MCC Brut; Chardonnay; Pinotage; Merlot; Kiddush. They are made under the auspices of the Cape Town Beth Din and the OU of the United States. The wines are Mevushal and Kosher for Passover
Now you are spoiling us. A glass of the Backsberg Sydney Back Brandy to go with dessert
Lynne's brandy was spilled on her Cape Brandy pudding, next to it is shortbread topped with granadilla cheese cake, then chocolate roulade topped unusually with beetroot, and finally some Dalewood cheese with a fruit preserve, something for everyone
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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