Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Morgenster Olive and Wine Launch

We were invited by the owner, Giulio Bertrand, to the unveiling on Friday of the Estate’s new Pieralisi Olive Press and to taste the new season's olive oil. And, of course, we would have the opportunity of tasting the recently released wines. The Olive Press is astounding. We have not seen an installation this big and sophisticated in South Africa. And the wine tasting was pretty special too
We began in the Morgenster tasting room. Morgenster means Morning Star
which has a lovely terrace. Besides some media and wine industry people, the staff and students of the Sense of Taste Culinary Academy had also been invited, something we so approve of. Chefs need to know how olive oil and wine are made
Beautiful views of the Schapenberg mountains over the lake
Chef Owner of Sense of Taste Pete Ayoub with lecturer Angie Boyd
Tables set up for the wine tasting later
Global Sales & Marketing Manager Jason de Beer
Cellarmaster Henry Kotzé has been with Morgenster since 2009. He took us on a cellar tour
We started in the barrel cellar. Morgenster's cellar has been custom designed and the South African team works closely with consultant and director of the Morgenster  Board, Pierre Lurton of the renowned Chateau Cheval Blanc in France
It has quite a mix of different barrels, all French. Giulio Bertrand releases only a portion of each vintage at launch date and keeps the balance in pristine condition in his cellar to be evaluated at six monthly intervals. He then releases the vintages in batches that showcase their progression, providing an unusual offering to private and trade consumers of several vintages of the same label
Then into the gravity fed tank area, no pumps are used. All the wine making is gently done with as little contact with the grapes as possible. Morgenster is a BWI winery (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative).
Time for the wine tasting. They use Riedel glasses. Morgenster's vineyards are planted mainly with Bordeaux varieties and smaller quantities of Italian cultivars. We began with the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, now in a screw capped bottle. Mouth filling with a good balance of fruit and acid, peaches and good minerality, no wood but 4 weeks on the lees. Then the Single Varietal Sangiovese made in the Chianti style. Huge cherry nose with savoury hints, good wood notes and some smoke. Chalky tannins, long soft flavours of cherries, wild berries and smoke

Then the 2017 Caruso Sangiovese Rosé from the Italian Collection. It is perfectly pink, a slightly tarry nose, with strawberries, cherries, raspberries, mulberries and pomegranate with a milk powder end. Easy to quaff, nice mid palate acidity than a nice buzz of warmth.
Then the elegant 2015 White Reserve which is a Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend
With crisp acidity then a kick of grapefruit on the back palate. Cassis leaves notes, silky , which encourages quaffing and reaching for a forkful of food, creamy on the palate from the Semillon. Great with seafood or creamy fish dishes.
The 2014 Tosca from the Italian Collection is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a super Tuscan blend in the Montepulciano style. Vanilla oak and ice cream, wildness, violets and incense wood on the nose, Soft sweet fruit on the palate with more violets - such a giveaway that this is an Italian style wine. Cherries, Cassis, raspberries soft supple tannins and fruit with long flavours
Then the 2014 Nabucco made from Nebbiolo. This grape comes from the misty mountains of Italy and the name actually means mistiness). Rhubarb on the pretty nose, richness, vanilla oak. On the palate red berries, chalky tannins, deep and rich and decadent. Wild and very satisfying
Then the wine that wowed everyone The 2013 Lourens River Valley, a classic Bordeaux blend with cassis leaves and berries on the nose with cherries on the end. Sweet fruit, very soft chalky tannins, so pretty. Savouriness from the Cab Franc , no greenness, the wood supports . There is a nice buzz of spice on the plums and cherries, with salty liquorice on the end. this is drinking so well now but has years to go
How to follow that? With the 2013 Morgenster Estate Reserve Bordeaux blend, which to quote Giulio Bertrand is "the best from the best on the farm". It is an illustration of the 2013 vintage. They are sure that the quality will stay the same and improve. Cassis, liquorice, incense and wood on the nose. Red and black cherries and cassis, with green cassis leaves. Good supporting acids, lovely dark wood showing as mocha and chocolate. The fruit is layered and remains on the palate. It has a long savoury end. Needs time
Werner Els who has recently joined Morgenster runs the tasting room. We met him at Zandvliet last year
The wine price list
The Olive Cellar door price list
A short drive took us to the Olive oil factory which is in front of the old manor house
This is where Giulio Bertrand lives. The property was purchased on 28th May 1711 by Huguenot Jacques Malan who built the house, a wine cellar and outbuildings for his family of 13 children
The olive oil tasting room where our simple lunch was set out
We were welcomed there by Giulio Bertrand and his daughter Alessandra
The food set out for lunch was set out on three tables
Some air dried bresaola
Some fresh South African Parmesan to enjoy with black and green olives and tapenade and fresh peeled garlic to scrape across the toast
Toasted ciabatta bread
Fresh tomato salsa with basil
Parma ham
and salamis
Time to look at the new Olive Oil production facility, from tree to bottle
The Olive OIl tasting wheel. We have both done intensive olive oil tasting courses in the past and love good oils
Ear muffs are necessary for the staff working there all day
The olives coming in to the facility
They still have leaves and stalks and need washing
They go into this hopper which removes much of the dross
Where the leaves end up. They go to compost
Into the washer
on rollers which allow unwanted bits to fall through
Then into the crusher. You can see the colour of the olives being crushed
The machine can do two different streams of olives at once. It used these huge crushing wheels
The oil begins to appear
And at the end of the process, the golden fresh olive oil. Tasting this is a dream experience. The bitterness has been removed and the oil is lively and fresh and peppery and green
One of the experts who runs the facility
Everyone made up Bruschetti and enjoyed them with a glass or two of the Morgenster wines. We sat outside to enjoy the weather, the wine and the food
Autumnal oaks line the avenues
This might have been the old shaded avenue for the ox wagons. What a superb day. Thank you Morgenster

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