Wednesday, August 23, 2017

MENU's Recipe tip this Week. Perfect Pork Crackling

What's on the Menu this week? Not a recipe but one of Lynne's best tips for failed crackling; you can save it.
You all know how frustrating it is when the crackling on pork fails. Our gas oven has recently had an overhaul and a very expensive new thermostat fitted. But it did not get hot enough to cook our roast of pork on Sunday; it had to be finished in our convection microwave. But the crackling, despite being well oiled and salted was rubbery. But Lynne knew how to solve that

Take the cracking off the roast and put some into a small Pyrex dish. Cover loosely with a sheet of kitchen paper towel.  Make sure that the skin has a light dusting of salt. You might have to do this in batches, but it is quick. Then put it into a microwave.  Put it on full power for one minute, you will hear lots of popping and exploding. Do this until it has crackled nicely but is not burnt. It might still be a little flexible when you take it out, but leave it aside for a few minutes and it will crisp up really nicely. Drain off the fat before doing another piece. Don't, under any circumstances, leave off the paper or your microwave will covered in fat and be horrible to clean. And don't give it longer than a minute at a time -  it can catch fire

MENU's Wine of the Week. Restless River Chardonnay 2015

When one is near the end of two tastings in the same day, having tasted over 60 wines, many of which were young and somewhat tannic, sometimes quite acidic, it takes a very special wine to blow the cobwebs out of one’s mind and delight the palate
Craig and Anne Wessels’ Restless River Chardonnay from the Hemel en Aarde valley has impressed many of the best critics and was scored 96/100 by British critic Tim Atkin and 95 by Jamie Goode. The 2015 is in perfect balance. A subtle but intense mineral base supports delicious citrus fruit in perfect balance. It is barrel fermented but the wood does not overpower the fruit; again, a perfect balance
The 2015 we tasted was an unlabelled pre-release sample; the photograph shows the 2014

Ex Animo Spring Portfolio Trade Tasting at Auslese

We were very happy to be invited by David Clarke to this tasting of wines, even though we had to come after John Collins' tasting. There are some wild cards here, some very interesting and impressive wines and winemakers, some very new to us, and some we really respect. On the list are Craven; Hogan; Intellego; JH Meyer - we like and have bought these; Joostenberg, we like and have sold and do buy these; Julien Schaal; Luddite - know them well and buy the wine; Mother Rock; Restless River is impressive, an impressive Chardonnay and other good wines - we have visited and enjoyed; Skinny Legs Wine Co; Spioenkop Wines we know are good; Testalonga; Thorne and Daughters, another 5 star Platter; Trizanne Signature wine, we have sold and bought; Van Loggerenberg Wines and Vuurberg. There are some Zoo Biscuit wild child wines in there and some from the Swartland. We need to get to know more of them. We only had an hour to taste and only touched the surface
Anne and Craig Wessels’ Restless River in Hemel en Aarde is small but is producing very impressive wines. See our Wine of the Week
Niels Verburg of Luddite does not have to impress these wine buyers and writers: Ingrid Motteux, Caroline Rillema and Jonathan Snashall. He and his wife Penny make impressive, different and innovative wine. In the background is Tyrell Myburgh of Joostenberg
Alsace vintner Julien Schaal and his Burgundy born winemaker wife Sophie Bollaert with their delicious wines. They were next to Niels Verburg who is chatting with David Clarke
Fresh from a week of tasting for the Michelangelo Awards was French sommelier Denis  Garret here with David Clarke
Jocelyn Hogan Wilson of Hogan Wines. They have a good Swartland Chenin Blanc, 2016, concentrated fruit, full and warm on the palate, with hot berries and yellow fruit
It was a very young crowd at the tasting. These are the wines that are attracting them

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

John Collins trade tasting at Den Anker, V&A Waterfront

Hallelujah, it's Trade Tasting time again in the SA wine world. Two tastings on one day make it rather hard to stay focused. The first was at Den Anker in the Waterfront: John Collins' stable of excellent wine farms and independent producers that he represents; all top names in the industry. It was a very popular and well attended tasting
We watched families playing chess while we tasted wine
There were some great canapés to keep us from drowning in wine. But you should know that most people do spit, even if they are using Uber or the bus. Above all, they will not drink and drive
Fresh tuna, seared and served with a soy dressing and wasabi
It's a Belgian restaurant so, of course, they serve bitterballen with mustard
Chris Keet was showing his 2012 First VerseA really good quality wine; one to put down and keep for a few years. We asked when he will produce a second wine; he replied that he would rather produce one excellent wine under his own name than risk diluting his effort with two labels
So pretty, crisply battered tempura prawns with a good sweet chilli dressing
On the Le Lude stand, Paul Gerber with his excellent MCCs, which are so restrained and very much like Champagne. He is joined by someone quite new in the wine industry, Emma Bruwer, just trained as a wine maker. Yes, she is Abrie Bruwer's daughter (Springfield in Robertson), so the dynasty will continue. Her brother is currently studying wine at Elsenburg
Friendly faces on the Jordan stand, where we were able to taste the whole current range; all are excellent. We love the Inspector Peringuey Chenin Blanc; the 2016 is no exception. And the Outlier Sauvignon Blanc is one we love to drink in the restaurant at Jordan. A new wine was The Long Fuse, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon with its elegant fruit and violet notes. For Lynne, the best wine of the evening to drink now
And on the Springfield stand, Jenna Bruwer who handles their marketing
We tasted the two new flagship Sauvignons Blanc and for us the Special Cuvée just has an edge over the Life From Stone right now, but they have just been released and they will change during the year. Miss Lucy, one of the nicknames for the Red Stumpnose on the label, is a blend of Pinot Gris, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and is very quaffable with food
John was very taken with the 1997 Mèthode Ancienne Cabernet Sauvignon. This vintage has just been released; Abrie Bruwer believes that it is just now ready to drink, after 20 years. Order now
The two chardonnays always impress and it is so nice to see that Pinot Noir is back at Springfield
Tender steak en brochette with Béarnaise sauce
The famed Den Anker mussels, a little dry when served without the usual broth
Jessica Peens was showing the four Kleinood wines and their olive oil. The Rosé is a lovely summer indulgence, and the two Syrahs really impressed us - as they usually do.
It was good to see David Sonnenberg on the Diemersfontein stand. Now here are some good Pinotages, that Lynne really enjoys. She especially liked the 2015 Carpe Diem Malbec, which is meaty and savoury and wrote one word: Yum. Wellington can produce great Chenin Blancs as the Carpe Diem 2016 shows. A farm worth visiting to taste the large selection for yourself
Bevan Newton Johnson was on their stand with 10 wines to taste, a treat. Their 2017 Sauvignon Blanc is exactly the style we enjoy drinking; the Chardonnays vary in wooding, but are all approachable and layered with good limes and minerality. The Felicité Rosé is summer in a glass. And then, of course, there are the Pinot Noirs, Felicité a bargain, at just under R100. The Family Vineyard is smoky perfumed heaven with layers of soft fruit and the Walker Bay 2016 is perfumed and spicy with classic raspberry and strawberry fruit, very satisfying. Full Stop Rock red blend always pleases and the Granum with its deep black fruit is for keeping
Thank you, John Collins, a really great tasting, again

Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Preview

This is one of our best tastings of the year and this year we could taste 44 of the upcoming auction wines, guided by each winemaker, and several more after the tasting. We are heading for Wine Auction time in the Cape. The Cape Winemakers Guild auction will be held at Spier again this year on Saturday the 30th of September. This auction is open to everyone so, if you are interested, do register with them. Further registration information and details on the Telephonic and Proxy bidding options are available from the Cape Winemakers Guild Office via email at or call +27 21 852 0408. We hope to be there
The tasting was held in the ballroom of the Westin International Hotel next to the CTICC. It’s a rather friendly event, as most people there know each other and have an idea of what to expect from the wines. The wines were, as expected, extremely good; there is lots of variation, some newer and unusual varietals and blends and some of the winemakers are being adventurous. We are starting to see more southern European varietals. It is going to be an exciting auction. We hope the downturn in our economy will not affect it too much. After all, good wine is a marketable asset
Charles Hopkins plants a smacker on Winnie Bowman CWM. From left to right, Louis Strydom, Andries Burger, Coenie Snyman; behind are David Finlayson and Mark Kent
The winemakers are lined up so that they can follow each other to the podium to talk about their wines. Here Bartho Eksteen chats with Gordon Newton Johnson
Ah, the helpful pouring staff was so good this year. It is great training for these wine students from Elsenburg. Take a good look, they are the future of Cape Wine
The line up of wines for tasting. It is a fast and furious tasting. There are two glasses in front of each of us, and while you taste the first one the second is poured. You taste and write your description while the winemaker speaks and immediately move on to the next wine, having emptied the first glass to receive the next wine. You have about two minutes for each wine
Beyer Truter presented his Traildust Pinotage 2015
Bruce Jack doing some early sampling to see if the wines are OK. They all were. He has The Drift Comfort Zone 2016 'Whole Bunch Tinta' and the 2013 Die Kans Vat (an Afrikaans pun on "The Chance Barrel" and "A Chance Taken") in the auction
Duncan Savage doing the same
It is a packed hall
Chairman Miles Mossop begins proceedings
Sommelier Pearl Oliver from the Taj Hotel
John Loubser has the honour of presenting the first wine of the day and the only Mèthode Cap Classique in the auction, his 2012 Silverthorn Wines Big Dog III
Duncan Savage and Adi Badenhorst exchange a bit of banter about their collaboration, a first for the CWG. It is the 2016 Love Boat White, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, Viognier. They also have a Love Boat Red blend in the auction
David Finlayson introduces his Edgebaston 2015 Rooi Trekker (Red Tractor) Viognier
Kevin Arnold presents his Waterford '1988 Kept Aside' Chardonnay
Walter Finlayson tasting. He is David's father. He grew up on Hartenberg Estate (then called Montagne) and was the winemaker at Blaauwklippen, where he planted the first Zinfandel in South Africa. After that, he and David worked at Glen Carlou before he sold it to the Hess Collection and retired to his dairy farm
Charles Hopkins introduces his De Grendel 2015 Op die Berg Pinot Noir
Gordon Newton Johnson presents his 2016 Windansea Pinot Noir. He also has his 2015 Seadragon Pinot Noir in the auction
Serious winemakers: Duncan Savage, Boela Gerber, Teddy Hall and Louis Nel
David Trafford presents his de Trafford 2015 Perspective
One of the two ladies among the Elsenburg students pouring the wines
Teddy Hall announces his 2014 Nico Theunissen Cabernet Sauvignon. Teddy also has 2015 Hendrik Biebow Chenin Blanc in the auction
Journalist Neil Pendock
Dewaldt Heyns presents his Saronsberg 2014 Die Erf
The Wine Concepts team tasting together: Mike Bampfield Duggan with Sue and Neil Proudfoot
and Abrie Beeslaar looking thoughtful. In last year's auction his Kanonkop Paul Sauer received the highest price. This year he has Kanonkop 2015 CWG Pinotage and Kanonkop 2014 CWG Paul Sauer
The tasting over and we adjourn for some snacks and some chatter in the lobby. These were the best snacks we have ever been served after these tastings and they were well received. You do need something to soak up 44 or more wines, even if you spit everything you are served
Fresh oysters
Good fresh sushi was popular
Sue Proudfoot and Anel Grobler having fun
Michael Pownall and Pearl 0liver
Following the guided tasting, we were given tickets to the Public Tasting held next door at the CTICC where the wines were available to taste. Here is Gottfried Mocke with his two CWG wines: the Wine Projects 2015 and the 2016 Pinot Noir
Frans Smit, CWG member, with Fellow Spier winemaker Johan Jordaan. Frans showed his Spier Auction Selection Frans K Smit 2013 and the Spier Frans K Smit Red 2012