Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tasting Catherine Marshall's wines with lunch at Ellerman House

Catherine Marshall has been making wine now for 20 years! We all remember her first Barefoot wine, but making wine for this long matures one and her wines have changed, evolved and emerged as some of the best South Africa produces. We were delighted to be invited to taste them last week. Ellerman House is one of the best boutique Hotels in South Africa, with one of the best wine cellars, and a renowned art collection. We have been invited for wine tastings before, this time it was to be lunch
We met in the wine cellar with its huge corkscrew helix in which the wines are stored
Allan Mullins CWM, wine selector for Woolworths, was there and was welcomed by Ellerman House's sommelier Manuel Caballo
Negociant Tracy van Maaren has Cathy's wines on her sales list, amongst other good wine farms - Opening the wines...
...and making sure everything is properly laid out
The Catherine Marshall wines have all been rebranded with labels that Cathy says really represent who she is and how she feels about the wines. They were commissioned by Cathy and designed by talented 20 year old designer Beatrice Fassler (granddaughter of South African couturier Marianne Fassler)
Journalist Anel Grobler of Spit or Swallow with Allan Mullins. We tasted the Semillon on arrival. It is made in very small quantities and not often shown. Lanoline and limes with steely minerality, a full mouth and lovely layers of fruit and freshness with a long end
Time to taste. We began with the 2016 Riesling from Elgin where the grapes are grown on red shale. It has soft terpenes, dusty honey notes on the nose, a tingle on the tongue with limes & lemons and some beeswax on the end. The wine is left on the lees for texture and balance. It is elegance personified. Cathy is selling it to Vagabond in London
These are the wines we tasted. The new collection is to be released in the next two weeks. Next came the Fine Art Collection 2016 Chenin in Clay. The wine is fermented for 14 months in a clay amphora made at Longkloof. 100% Elgin fruit, honey flowers with light wood. Silky smooth on the palate honey minerality limes, with wood support but invisible. Sweet melon, and light chalk, a Loire style Chenin. Her heart lies in the Loire. These are such site specific wines


She says that to be successful, you have to keep reinventing yourself. This is a range abut art; her art is wine, in which she can express herself, wines made with an intention of quality. They are beginning to get high scores
This year she has been nominated for 5 stars in Platter, Tim Atkin gave her 91 points for the 2013 Clay soil Pinot Noir
It was a stormy day outside
Next came the 2016 Pinot Noir on Sandstone. Roses, violets, mushrooms, forest floor and incense wood on this nuanced nose. Dark wood on the palate, with liquorice, needs time to soften. Dark berry fruit almost bruléed, with warmth and crisp red fruit and dark toasted wood on the end. The 2016 Pinot Noir on Clay is completely different. Raspberries, perfume incense wood, red velvet texture, with sweet red berries, rhubarb and full on the palate. Then the 2016 Finite Elements Pinot Noir. Perfumed berry nose, velvet and smoke, minerality integrated fruit, slight lactic note
Time for the wine everyone raved about, which has been nominated for 5 stars in this year’s Platter Guide. Announcements will be at the Platter launch on the 4th of November. Peter's Vision 2015; a blend of 87% Merlot (an Italian clone) from Shannon and 13% Cabernet Franc (a French clone). From Elgin, on the left hand side of the N2. Berries were hand sorted. Lead pencils, rhubarb, mulberries , cherries, savoury and herbal. On the palate, layers and layers of rich, ripe red and black fruit, elegance, wood and soft chalky tannins and some caramel, with plums in brandy enrobed in chocolate on the end. A WOW wine. This is dedicated to Pete Oxenham, Cathy's late partner, son Jonathan's (Jonno) dad who, sadly, died of cancer
Cathy's son Jonno will be joining her soon to help with the wine making
Cathy does the vineyard selection, wine production, marketing and sales; her mother Jakki is also involved in the money side of the business and Greg Mitchell runs the behind the scenes business side of the company
After the tasting, we were honoured with a tour of the art in Ellerman House. There are many magnificent pictures, some by very famous artists
A beautiful Pierneef in the corridor of the hotel
Down the stairs to the Art Gallery. The views from the hotel are magnificent, even in the middle of a storm
The gardens are legendary too
A stacked rock head holding up the ceiling
There is so much to look at, some to admire, some to covet, some to puzzle over and even some to giggle at
This couple from Kenya, who are friends of Cathy’s, was enjoying the experience
Close up, its these tiny stacked roundels of different colours
from afar, with a slight squint, suddenly Steve Biko's face appears, Magic
Hmmm. some found this offensive, others didn't...
A Hairy naked man? Just hanging - very lifelike, but only about 50cm from hands to socks
Another magical artwork. The smear on the surface circular table reflects onto the tube and suddenly you see the scene
The stillness of sculptures in a courtyard
Sculpture caught in the wind
Time for some lunch. This is the menu
The citrus seared gravadlax with orange, apple and hazelnuts, paired with the Chenin in Clay
Vadouvan Karoo Lamb chops. Vadouvan is a conundrum, it is a French curry mix - French? eating curry? It was on some of the chops. We think the lamb had been cooked sous vide, because it was very, very pink and soft, with no crisp fat or searing marks. Rather too blue for some of us lamb lovers. Served on a bed of black lentils and chard with a nice flavourful crisp bhadji (savoury deep fried chick pea donut) with a scattering of crumbs and almond sliver. Served with both the Finite Elements Pinot Noir 2016 and Peter's Vision 2015
We ended the meal with a platter of cheeses - the finest of which was an 'au point' French Epoisse which we love, crackers and bread and some guava paté de fruit. This was served with The Myriad 2009, a dessert wine made from Merlot with cask matured brandy spirit; superb with cheese and any dessert

The family together. Thank you for a lovely tasting
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