Friday, September 09, 2016

This Week's MENU. Silverthorn MCC vertical, Thelema tasting, Elgin Shiraz, Seductive Sauvignons, Ridgeback Wines, Spring flowers, New Benguela Cove winemaker, Spaghetti with Oil and Garlic, Sutherland Cabernet Petit Verdot

A blaze of Spring daisies
Another full week, with more news than we had time to include in this week's MENU, so some will have to wait until next week to be included in our ongoing story.'s Riscura White blends is one of them. We'll write more, with photographs next week, but you can see the results here. Proof that this country can produce stunningly good white blends. We also enjoyed a private wine tasting of Burgundies and South African equivalents. One of the Chardonnays in the tasting has been awarded a score of 96/100 in Tim Atkin MW's latest list of top South African Wines. From a Hemel en Aarde farm we visited earlier in the year. We'll keep you guessing until next week....
Silverthorn MCC vertical tasting with John & Karen Loubser     This has to be the highlight this week. Occasionally, we write about tasting South Africa's version of Champagne (made to exactly the same method and called in South Africa Méthode Cap Classique or MCC because, justifiably, Champagne guards its brand). We do not have the same climate or terroir, but we do have winemakers who have studied the process in depth, made these wines for many years and so understand the process that they are producing superb sparkling wines. John Loubser is one of these. It was very exciting to be invited with other members of the media and wine trade to taste several different vintages of his Silverthorn wines at his home. It was a very rare opportunity to taste so many vintages of great MCC

Thelema and Sutherland trade tasting at Auslese      Thelema, situated on the slopes of the Simonsberg at the top of the Helshoogte Pass, is one of our premium wine farms and its wines have a great reputation. They also make wines in cooler Elgin, marketed as Sutherland wines, and these are also excellent. We went to taste these wines, some of them new season releases, last week at Auslese in the Gardens where chef owner Harald Bresselschmidt delighted John with his food pairings
Elgin Shiraz Tweet up      Just a quick mention of another good tasting of some of Elgin's Shirazes this week. Lynne often struggles to recognise Shiraz, with its many varied taste profiles coming from all over our winelands, often terroir related, but sometimes because the makers just have no clue of what they are doing. The Elgin wines we tasted do not fall into this trap; they are all, in their own way, identifiably Shiraz, even though some have a definite European profile and others more of the warm southern hemisphere in the bottle. We tasted eleven, starting with four older wines from 2011 and 12, then four from 2013 and the final three from 2014 and 15. The Sutherland Syrah (2011) always stands out, we have bought various vintages again and again. One to watch is Moya Meaker 2012, made by a Frenchman, Damien Landouar. Richard Kershaw's Clonal 2013 Syrah is outstanding, very Rhône style, if expensive, and we loved the Almenkerk Syrah 2013 with its potential to cellar. Iona never fails to impress and the Solace 2014 scored well as did South Hills 2015. So if you want to drink good Shiraz, look to Elgin. You can follow us on Twitter at @mainingmenu
Seductive Sauvignons Festival      This annual opportunity to taste some of the best newly released Sauvignons Blanc and the current vintages of the Cabernet Sauvignons was hosted last Friday by Mike Bampfield Duggan of Wine Concepts at the Vineyard Hotel. It always is a serious and fun tasting. We attempt to taste as many as we can on the evening, but there are many new wines to taste and, even if we did speed tasting (which we don’t), there are lots of questions one wants to ask the winemakers
A visit to Ridgeback Wines      We hadn't visited Ridgeback since 2013 and they invited us to return and taste their wines recently, so we decided to combine the visit with a trip to see the Spring flowers up the West Coast last Saturday, which was a lovely sunny day. The tasting was followed by lunch on the deck and then a chat with the owner Vernon Cole and his daughter. They are originally from Zimbabwe where the Ridgeback dog is famous.. It was a very friendly tasting and we were ably led through the wines, which are made by Toit Wessels, by Pieter van Straaten. Then we motored off through the Malmesbury and Darling countryside to spot the daisies
Spring flowers near Darling     As we were in the area last Saturday, we were able to drive from our appointment at Ridgeback through the very green countryside through Malmesbury and Darling, looking for spring flowers which we had heard were spectacular this year. They were good, but perhaps the best are inside the Postberg Nature reserve
More breaking News    Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate has appointed renowned winemaker Johann Fourie as its head winemaker. Johann, formerly head winemaker at KWV, was Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year in 2015. And that’s just the South African brief – Fourie will also be lending his expertise to and spending considerable time at the owner Penny Streeter OBE’s UK property in West Sussex: Manning’s Heath Golf Club & Wine Estate, where the focus is production of patrician sparkling wine
What’s on the MENU this week      OK, we are great advocates of Banting; we know some of you are too. We have been doing it for nearly two years now, not intensely with our limitations when eating out at catered events, and really feel the benefits, if not the weight loss. But sometimes you watch the Food Channel, find a great Italian chef doing pasta and it is too tempting not to try. So, last night for the first time in two years, Lynne cooked a pasta dish. It is the easiest and quickest dish to make and it can be straight from your larder. Preferably use thin spaghetti if possible, but it is not essential. Quantities are for two
Really good Extra Virgin Olive oil, at least a 1/3rd of a cup or more - 2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced - 1 t finely chopped red chilli or chilli flakes -Spaghettini or Angel hair pasta - Flaked salt - freshly ground black pepper - 2 T chopped parsley or oregano - 35 to 40 g finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
Boil a pot of really salty water - it should taste like sea water. In an frying pan, cover the base with a layer of good green olive oil (at least a 1/3 of a cup, and put it on a low heat. Add the garlic and the chilli and cook gently until the garlic is just beginning to take on some colour. Do not let it brown, it will be bitter. At the same time add the pasta to the water and cook until it is al dente. Just before it is ready, take a 1/3rd of a cup of the pasta water and add it to the garlic and chilli oil. Stir rapidly till it begins to emulsify, this is the sauce. Drain the pasta and put it into the oil and stir. Add a little more pasta water if you have no sauce. Add seasoning and stir in the parsley. Transfer to bowls for serving and add the cheese just before you eat. It is that simple. Enjoy with a healthy salad of mixed vegetables
On our Wine MENU this week     A wine we tasted at the Thelema Sutherland trade tasting that so impressed us and indeed many others in the trade who were attending, including some top sommeliers.
Thelema's Sutherland 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot  Not only is this wine a steal at the price, but its perfumed, enticing nose, full of violets and fruit, makes one want to dive into this silky soft wine with its nice kick of warmth, spicy dark fruit and long, long length. It will be on quite a few wine lists, we suspect

8th September 2016
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