Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Elgin Cool Wine & Country Food Festival - Day One

We spent the weekend at Elgin Cool Wines and managed to fit in 7 wineries before we ran out of time and steam. It is such a lovely area to visit, full of hills, dales, grapes, apples and pears and here the wines do not conform to any particular style which is refreshing. You almost never know what you are going to get. From supreme elegance and style to gentle quaffing wines, from well aged whites to stonkingly robust reds, they continue to surprise us
We rushed through from Cape Town for the start of winemaker Sean Skibbe's 10 year tasting which began at 10. It was a cold and miserable start to the day but brightened up as it went along. The wines certainly helped. Sean has been there since they started making wine in 2006
Sean pouring a tasting for his wife and the other guests around the table. His 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is our Wine of the Week and we also liked his 2012 very much. The 2015 Sauvignon is still full of pyroxenes and crisp apple acids but there are hints of what this wine will become with a little age. Tasting the 2016 tank sample was educational. Elderflower on the nose with fig, litchi, white peaches and gooseberries. some tropical notes with a green background. Crisp tingle on the tongue then smooth with green and ripe figs and peaches. One to watch
The wines currently available. We then tasted the 2006, 2007 and 2011 Cabernets. They are all good wines and it is great to see the wine and Sean's progression with this grape. The 2011 current release is quite French with violets, layered dark cassis, blackberry fruit and soft chalky tannins. A lovely wine with long flavours
The KK wines, named for owner Kevin King, are made in small select parcels, and are only available from the farm. The 2012 Red blend is spicy with ripe red fruit, smoky, violets and elderberries. A very pretty wine with unusual fruit flavours. Micah, named after Kevin's son, is a blend of Syrah Mourvedre and Barbera and is perfumed, juicy and satisfying. The Bazza Pinot Noir has a very pretty Raspberry Rose nose, its light and fruity and needs time to show itself

Then it was off to Paul Cluver where another Shaun (McVey), their Sales Manager gave us a private tasting of their impressive wines
We started with the 2015 Sauvignon blanc which has some Semillon added for roundness and elegance, it is tropical granadillas, limes, fun and very quaffable. Then their famous Gewürztraminer, 2015, full of roses, litchi and petals, with a great acid fruit balance and length to stand up to spicy food. On to their two Rieslings, some of the top examples of the varietal in the Cape. They have 25% of SA plantings. The Dry Encounter Riesling has no terpenes, 8.7 g/l sugar and attractive honey, lime and woody notes, bone dry. The Close Encounter Riesling 34.2 g/l with its rose petal, honey and limes, deep and long flavours close to German in style, is delicious. The good news is that they have made enough and will not run out this year. The Estate Chardonnay is wild fermented, has wood smoke, buttery golden layered fruit, soft chalky tannins and balance. Always one of our favourite wines
Then on to the reds. We like the incense, violets, smoky bacon and sharp raspberry fruit of the Village 2015 Pinot Noir but the Estate Pinot Noir is made to impress and it does when it opens up in the glass. The Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2013 is made from 27 year old vines - the first vines planted on the farm by Nederburg when they were experimenting in the area. It is in the classic elegant Burgundian style, full of raspberries and strawberries, a soft sweet wine with wood smoke and smoke and quite heavy tannins so you have to wait for it to mature which it will do in 4 to 5 years time. All these wines are made by winemaker Andries Burger, who has done his 20th vintage at Paul Cluver this year. He is married to Inge Cluver, Paul Cluver's daughter, who is the Financial manager of the farm
One of our favourite caterers Craig Cormack was preparing the food over the weekend...
... and gave us this plate of smooth delicious duck paté and buttery brioche with grape jam to sample before we left. It made us very hungry, so we were happy to be off to lunch at Terra Madre
To quote them "Terra Madre Elgin is a working family farm where chef and foodie Nicole Precoudis and her team grow wholesome local fruit and vegetables and lovingly handcraft delicious artisanal products and charcuterie". Moya Meaker Wines and Thelema's cool climate range, Sutherland wines from Elgin, were also available to taste
Owned by husband and wife team, David and Genevieve Curl, Moya Meaker wines are made by Bordeaux renegade winemaker, Damien Landouar. The wines available to taste were: 2012 and 2013 Syrah as well as their unreleased Pinot Noir 2014
We enjoyed tasting some of the Sutherland wines with our lunch, they are such good food wines, especially these reds
Chef Nicole preparing and serving the food
Receiving our platters, piled high with good food. We had pulled pork, roast chicken breasts and lots and lots of fresh salads. Just what we wanted to top off all the wine we had tasted that morning
Fresh produce at Terra Madre
It was sunnier at lunch time, so we and others sat out in the garden 
to enjoy the food and wine

Then it was time for a visit to Paul Wallace wines to catch up with the family. Son Bobbie was home for the weekend from Elsenburg and he told us of the Elsenburg student Auction which is going to be at Beyerskloof on the 21st of June. Do contribute wine if you can or come along and bid for some interesting bottles. Details from Elsenburg. The auction is organised by the students. All money collected goes to student travel funds, so they can get to do vintages on farms in other countries in the world to further their winemaking skills
Behind the tasting counter for the weekend: Paul Wallace, viticulturist and winemaker, Nicky Wallace who handles the marketing and son Bobbie, training at Elsenburg to be a winemaker. Their elder son Mark, also a winemaker, was away doing a harvest in New Zealand
Customers chilling, chatting and sipping Wallace wines. It is a lovely place to end a great day of wine tasting
With beautiful views of the Elgin wine valley
We sat in the sun on the tasting room terrace and fetched each other tastings of the crisp Little Flirt Sauvignon Blanc, the Brave Heart softly fruity Pinot Noir; Crackerjack, a late release 2009 Bordeaux blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot with leather and cassis, cherries and soft tannins. And finally the iconic Black Dog Malbec, named after Jack the black Labrador/ Rottweiler cross who polices the farmyard with all his varied brothers of another mother
It's a dog friendly farm. Black Dog is a powerful dark fruit wine with spice, character and satisfying flavours
They had braaied Beef fillet rolls or a chicken and walnut salad available for lunch
Shandu Mvelo kindly helping a lad with a can
We then left for our night with friends at their cottage in the Hemel and Aarde Valley, where we had supper in front of a roaring fire and treated ourselves with some really good older wines. Lynne made a huge pot of mixed vegetables (10 of them!) soup with spicy sausage
The 1987 Nederburg Paarl Cabernet Sauvignon was a total surprise. We all expected it to be interesting when first opened and then to fade quickly. We could not have been more wrong. It was full of smooth dark cassis fruit and elegance and improved in the glass as we drank it. As Peter said, it was up there with some good French Cabernets. The 1998 Thelema also delighted with its classic cassis fruit and elegance and minty flavours. The Beaumont Mourvedre 2001 was another surprise, heavy and dark and wild and almost Italian in character, we loved it. Who says good South African wines don't last? Not us
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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