Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Lunch at Buitenverwachting with Lars Maack and Brad Paton

Changes on wine farms are inevitable and we heard about those changes at Buitenverwachting when we had lunch with owner Lars Maack recently. The opening of the coffee shop - Coffee Bloc - has made this an even more popular Constantia venue and the overflow into the tasting room has made inroads to the sale and tasting of wine. The restaurant, which was voted one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards - 2016, is in one of the old farm buildings and forms part of the Buitenverwachting Werf. It flows out onto the courtyard with its fountain and the coffee shop next to the Wine Tasting Centre. So the tasting room will now move to the old wine cellar on the side of the large lawn, giving it a great opportunity to grow and focus more on the sale of wine and themed tastings, offering so much more to visitors to this iconic Constantia wine farm. The picnics will cease and other food options will be available there and at the restaurant
The old cellar will be the new tasting room and its renovation is nearing completion
The courtyard with the restaurant on the right, the old tasting room in the middle and the Coffee Bloc on the left
Lars shows us the work being done inside the new tasting room
A coffee shop blackboard
Ah, time for a glass of Buitenverwachting's good crisp MCC Brut
Some of the wines we tasted with lunch
The menu; each course was paired with two wines
Lipitauer cheese spread and butter for the very good garlic and rosemary foccacia
The view to the mountains and vineyards from the restaurant
This was a life changer of an Amuse Bouche! An antipasti dish but what could this scattering of different things be? In fact it was chef Edgar Osojnik deconstruction of an excellent Caprese salad of basil, mozzarella and tomato in many delicious forms. Different heritage tomatoes served fresh, confit, air dried, roasted, in a terrine with the cheese, jellied. Dehydrated basil oil in a spoon to blow the dish wide open. One to return to, again and again. So clever
The next course, our starter, is explained to us
It was Edgar's take on a free-form Caesar salad with pan fried Norwegian Salmon. Simple flavours that combined so well. Gem lettuce quarters, white anchovies, a free range soft boiled egg, a crisp bacon strip, croutons and a very good Hollandaise sauce
The course was paired with 2 Sauvignon Blancs, The Hussey’s Vlei 2012 (always a favourite) is a classic Constantia Sauvignon, layered with limes and passion fruit, deep concentrated flavours with dry tannins, very refreshing.
And the Constantia 2016, newly released, which has a fuller leesy nose, with golden fruit and lemons, no pyrazines on either, just good refreshing, layered wines
Brad Paton is now Cellarmaster, Hermann Kirschbaum has taken on the role of General Manager of Buitenverwachting. Brad told us that they are ripening the Sauvignons Blanc as long as possible, and sales have increased fast. More golden fruit, no greenness is what the market wants. Buitenverwachting is one of the top Sauvignon Blanc producers, leading their production with Buiten Blanc, their best seller white blend. They have healthy vines with bigger crops. They spray with sulphur and copper only when necessary, no hard chemical sprays are used. And they have good staff relationships. Buitenverwachting was a pioneer in providing their staff with excellent accommodation and living conditions
Served with the next course was the limited release Maximus 2013 Sauvignon Blanc which has incense wood, vanilla and perfume on the nose, creamy and full on the palate with flavours of pears, apples and quince. Dark toast on the end turns it into a mouth watering food wine. This wine wins awards
Then we moved to the Chardonnay 2015 with its golden nose, perfumed with limes. It is crisp, full layered a quite wonderful expression of elegant chardonnay, full of apples, melon, some warmth and a long end with a hint of wood.
The next course, officially the second, was three large triangles of duck liver paté and it was not a little daunting, knowing that the main and a final course were still to follow. Seared bitter endive and morello cherry jelly went so well with the rich  paté. Orange segments, a fig coulis and a spicy plum chutney all added different fruit and acid notes to counter the richness and tiny walnut brioches which acted as the carrier for the paté
This mushroom consommé with a mushroom ravioli was the substitute course for the vegetarians at the table
Our main course of pan fried lamb cutlet noisettes in a lamb jus with an aubergine falafel, chorizo, rich leek puree, roasted chickpeas (they were a great hit), dried slices of garlic (wow, what a hit of garlic) and gremolata yoghurt. This was accompanied by Christine 2012 Buiten's top Bordeaux blend, an incense, cherry and cassis blast on the nose, followed by French perfume and violets. Soft chalky tannins, lots of cassis and mulberries, with warm alcohols, cassis leaves and dry tannins make this a wine certain to last and continue to impress more as the years go by. And the limited release Rough Diamond 2012 60% Petite Verdot, 40 % Malbec. A savoury nose with umami and violets, on the palate cherries, mulberries, soft and creamy and sappig (juicy). This award winning wine has matured very well. These limited edition wines allow for creativity and allow the winemaker to do the best with the estate’s best grapes
The final course was not dessert, but a cheese platter with more of those walnut brioches and melba toast with grapes and figs
This was served with a glass of the first vintage (2005) of 1796. Buitenverwachting's excellent marmalade sweet Noble Late Harvest made from Muscat de Frontignan . Brad also makes a great Sherry 2007. A non-vintage blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin and Viognier in solera barrels. It’s experimental. Called by Lars Wipe the Flor
We look forward to seeing the changes in the near future. This was a great experience, superb wine and food paired so well! Lynne's tasting glasses at the end of the meal. We can never finish all the wine tasting portions we are poured, we would just become too inebriated. Although one or two of our colleagues do. Uber is necessary
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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