Sunday, November 13, 2016

Doolhof's new releases with lunch at Dash restaurant, Queen Victoria Hotel in the V&A Waterfront

Doolhof launched their new vintage wines at Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel recently. Five were from their Signatures range, and one from their Legends of the Labyrinth portfolio. Doolhof is below the Bains Kloof pass in the newly proclaimed Limietberg ward of Wellington, there are fourteen wines in their wine portfolio
The hotel entrance
Canapés of ricotta cheese dusted with fresh coriander and a lemon gel. The canapés were served with the Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and the Single Vineyard Unwooded Chardonnay 2016 - both showed the terroir they come from, fresh, warm and slightly tropical
Oat biscuits topped with smoked mackerel and cape gooseberry gel. Sadly, there were bones in the mackerel
No one volunteered to play
Johan Fourie, General Manager, Doolhof Wine Estate
Winemaker Gielie Beukes told us that Terroir analysis is happening in Wellington. They know what they can do well; there are small pockets on each vineyard that produce different things, And there are different aspects to each vineyard, so they know what can be used for which wine. The Single vineyard range is extending the Sauvignon Blanc by one block, the Chardonnay by 2. The vines are getting older, they have very little leaf roll; some of the 25 year old vineyards will be replanted, but they are looking after what they have. There is a renewal of farming practices and clean farming. There is very little organic material naturally, so they are putting it in with mulching and cover crops
An attentive audience
Angelo Casu, GM of Grand Dedale Country House on Doolhof, told us about their much awarded 5 star accommodation and its guests. Bain’s House, adjacent to the existing Manor House, is currently being refurbished and extended and next year will have an extension with 4 suites, a boardroom and a sauna and larger Spa. The restaurant is exclusively for staying guests
Time for lunch and to taste the other wines with it. This was a spicy curried mussel velouté, with coconut, charred cucumber and orange puree. It was served with the 2014 Single Vineyard Pinotage which has nice fruit but was rather overwhelmed by the chilli in the soup
Then the 2015 Single Vineyard Malbec with tender and moist Confit pork belly, served with two cracklings, one crisp and one gooey, both excellent, heavy gnocchi, a bacon and cheese mousse (wanted more) and compressed apple which was a nice fresh contrast. The  Malbec was fruity and deep and went well with this course
The third course of very rare, just seared ostrich on a date and coffee sauce was good, the pickled rose petals were strange and the addition of watermelon konfyt was a huge mistake, it was much too sweet and again overwhelmed the wine. Served with the 2015 Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc, which is savoury and delicate but a full depth of fruit
One thing we would ask of all restaurants: Please train your waiters, when there is a formal wine tasting with lunch, NOT to clear the other wine glasses. Leave them on the table till the dessert. We do like to see which wines go better with the courses and sometimes the wines just need time to open
Then dessert served with Theseus 2011, part of the Doolhof Legends of the Labyrinth range, is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The wine is sweet and sour with blackberry, black cherry and cassis and some chalky tannins so built to last. The dessert was odd. We liked the dehydrated chocolate mousse, tasting like a Horlicks malted milk chocolate and the red wine caramel sauce with raisings played to the wine. But smoked chocolate was perhaps a bridge too far. It was very smoky
Dash has a new Executive chef, Stellenbosch born and bred Germaine Esau. He was a finalist in the Chefs who Share – Young Chef Award in 2015 while still working as a junior Sous Chef at Majeka House in Stellenbosch, which inspired him to create the new Dash menu which will be a fusion of classical French dishes with a modern twist. The new menu will be launched in November 2016. The press release from Newmark Hotels says: "Arguably one of the most innovative chefs in the country, Germaine is described as a visionary genius and someone who can create combinations and masterpieces that other chefs would not attempt"
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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