Thursday, September 15, 2016

The 33rd Blaauwklippen Blending Competition

This annual blending competition, which is now in its 33rd year and can be entered by wine clubs nationwide and overseas, had its awards ceremony this week on the farm. We love to go and meet the finalists over lunch and find out how their wine clubs work, how often they meet and how they approach the blending of the wine. During lunch we tasted the winning wine and, this year, we were surrounded by all four of the finalists. We had fun asking them if they recognised their own blend
 Some duck filled spring rolls with an apple sauce
We loved this combination of good Parma ham with a sweet melon salsa
Slices of pepper crusted springbok with a macadamia nut and cranberry sauce on top of crisp warm gooey cheesy deep fried polenta croquettes, the best version of polenta we have ever had and it took some convincing. We are converted
... and finally, oh so sweet tomato tarts with goats cheese and red onion marmalade. Pastry was melt in the mouth. Now we were really looking forward to lunch and finding out who the talented chef was who made all these excellent canapés
We drank The Diva MCC blanc de noir and Ons Sprankel tank fermented bubbly. light and summery, both made from Zinfandel
We take our seats
MD of Blaauwklippen Rolf Zeitvogel stands to tell us about this year's competition. This year they received 72 entries of which 8 were international and there were 11 newcomers. Wine clubs were challenged to produce an easy drinking, fruity wine of medium complexity. The winning blend was made up of 31% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 37% Shiraz and 27% Zinfandel
The blend of 2016 in its magnum bottle. The label is designed each year by well-known Stellenbosch artist Frans Groenewald
The lunch menu
First we were served the starter of salmon gravadlax marinated in beetroot and orange, had a lovely firm texture. It came on an asparagus foam, topped with fresh buttered asparagus spears, pea shoots and grapefruit segments. Sprinkled over was something new - sweet lime tapioca pearls, which added another texture and flavour to a good dish
Two members of the each of the final four wine clubs are invited to the awards and their travel is paid for by Blaauwklippen: Business Time from the Western Cape, Howling Wolves from Gauteng, Loerie Wine Gurglers from Mpumalanga and the German Weinnasen from Rindchen’s Weinkontor Uhlenhorst. They had to introduce themselves to us. First were Lisa Kollmark and Cathy Lankers from Weinnasen (Wine noses) who work for Rindchen’s Weinkontor Uhlenhorst near Hamburg in Germany
then Phil and Laurette Tasker from the Loerie Wine Gurglers in Mpumalanga
and Rian de Hart from Business Time Club in Cape Town
Johan and Marina Cloete from the Howling Wolves in Gauteng (made up of old Maties - Stellenbosch University alumni)
Winemaker Nerina Cloete told us about her fellow judges. Judges for this year’s competition were Blaauwklippen’ s cellar master, Rolf Zeitvogel, seasoned wine judge and wine buyer for Ultra Liquors, Mark Norrish, popular breakfast DJ Guy Mc Donald, tour guide and wine lover Ligia de Coito and wine judge and journalist Karen Glanfield.
Between courses we were served a lovely palate cleanser sorbet of the Blaauwklippen Citrus gin. Excellent!
Time for the main course of Braised oxtail on a parsnip mash with baby rainbow carrots, roasted vine tomatoes, mange tout and other baby vegetables, topped with biltong dried onions. It was rich and fully satisfying
Rolf introduces the Chef Louise Veldhuizen and her colleague Chloe Beattie. We think Louise has a great future in front of her. She produced some really good food.
We drank the winning wine with the main course and there was lots of discussion about it. it is full of good wood with spicy dark red fruit on the nose with hints of black pepper. On the palate salty silky red cherries and berries and some cola. The fruit is hiding a little but is has good soft chalky tannins. Probably one of the best blends we have tasted over the years. It went well with the oxtail
Beautiful flower arrangements on the table
Now time for the awards, The winner of the Newcomer award was the Business Club. Rian is engaged to Blaauwklippen’s Hospitality manager Nanette Cloete, sister of winemaker Narina Cloete
Rolf likes to spin out the announcements of the winners
And this year, for the second year running the award goes to Germany to Lisa Kollmark and Cathy Lankers from Weinnasen wine club
The girls with their award. SA must look to its laurels next year and try to win the trophy back
Newcomer Rian with winemaker Narina Cloete, soon to be his sister in law
Time for dessert and some of the Blaauwklippen Potstill brandy and some coffee
Assorted macarons
Strawberry cheesecakes, and chocolate Delice topped with pistachio nuts
Very sweet caramel crèmes
The Riff Raff club holds its first meeting. Perhaps discussing their entry into the competition next year

Broadcaster John Meinking and wine merchant Mike Bampfield Duggan 
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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