Thursday, October 05, 2017

Tasting the pairing menu at Creation, Hemel en Aarde Valley

A Creation feast of flavours and tastes and textures
When we last visited Creation Carolyn and Jean Claude Martin said we must come again to do their special pairing menu The Story of Creation. And spending the long weekend in the Hemel and Aarde weekend was the perfect opportunity. It truly was a marvellous, if rather challenging experience, the wines are paired with cleverly created dishes, some small, some bigger that highlight these special wines - R360 for 7 courses with 8 wines. If you do not have the stamina to attempt this you can do the smaller pairings. You can view their extensive menu here
We were welcomed with a glass of the delicious 2014 Elation MCC
Chapter 1. This is inspired. The beginning of creation, an egg in a nest. Ah, but this is deceptive, its actually a wonderful passion fruit and pawpaw jelly in a nest with lots of texture from fired baby leeks, courgette, granola and oregano. Which, of course, pairs perfectly with both Creation's 2017 Sauvignon Blanc full of tropical fruits and their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, refreshing, full and very quaffable
Writing, drinking, eating and listening with Carolyn and JC Martin. Restaurant manager Phillip Marais shows us the Creation book they have produced
Chapter 2 The Creation Viognier, with its rose petals, peaches and ginger, goes very well with pre paired Pickled Fish. Now, Lynne has to state that she does not like Picked Fish because of the usual heavy vinegar and raw onion she has encountered in the past; no way to treat respectable fish. However, the chefs have produced something quite different and edible. It's a spicy curried version, of fried, battered hake topped with a rich sauce, an tangy apricot atchar and served on sweet corn, with crisp strips of poppadum. Perfect with the tongue tingling Viognier
Chapter 3 Next was Smoked salmon and leek ravioli, topped with roasted pumpkin and a cinnamon and orange butter to go with the smoky bacon 2016 Chardonnay. All the wines were served in the correct Riedel glasses, this was in a Montrachet glass and the style of the wine is rather like that too, rich, layered and complex. A great match
Chapter 4 This was the prettiest and the most interesting pairing and the one we thought worked the best. The Creation Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 is soft and sweet, with elegance, minerality and layers of red berry fruit which opens up on the palate. Slivers of smoked duck breast with gentle goats milk cheese, sliced beetroot and radish, raspberries, pomegranate, a Pinot Noir salt and an inspired touch was the pistachio crumb. The flavours of both sing in the mouth
The tasting room is also the restaurant and even, though this was a chilly and miserable day with rain, they were packed. You do need to book at the weekend
Chapter 5 The Reserve Merlot has red and blue berry fruit, incense wood and perfume on the nose. Chalky, crisp tannins with layers of tight fruit, this is a wine built to last 10 to 15 years and, with food, works now. Served with a thick cauliflower, celeriac, walnut, gorgonzola, onion and dried blueberry soup
Chapter 6 The Big Bang! Creation Syrah (80%) Grenache (20%) is one of our favourite Creation wines. It is savoury, spicy, rich and layered and delicious to drink. The current vintage is 2016 and it was paired with a slow cooked pulled lamb shank , salty and rich with a savoury jus (echoes the savoury Grenache), added acidity from the sun dried tomato pesto. spice from the curry powder, and sweetness from the pomegranate
Chapter 7, the finale, is served with Creation Reserve Chardonnay. Pineapple sage and beeswax on the nose with elegance, full , rich with apple fruit acids balancing it on the palate. So cleverly paired with staves of Boerenkaas to dip into the sauce of fynbos honey, truffle oil, bee pollen, pineapple sage in a sauce
We were not finished tasting the wines as we were then offered two top wines to taste. The Art of Creation Chardonnay is sophisticated and elegant on the nose with hints of what is to come, it has crisp apples, limes, in layers, with minerality and good acidity to carry it forward for a long time. The wood is there but in the background. So delicious. Then the Art of Creation Pinot Noir. Rose petals raspberries and incense wood on the nose, soft sweet berries and warmth, with perfume on the palate too. Very French in style, a good Burgundy comparison.
And then a surprise. Just about to be bottled the next day, we were given a taste from the tank of Creation's new Chenin Blanc. Wow. Golden fruit, lovely ripeness, layered limes, loquats and melon. This will be another success for them

Finally good coffee served in something we haven't seen before, special Riedel coffee glasses. This is a double espresso with good natural crema. And then there were some cocolates to end this tour de force of food and wine.
All the Art of Creation wines bear Jean-Claude Martin's signature. Thank you both for being so generous to us and our friends, who were provided with vegetarian courses for the whole 7 Chapters. Greatly appreciated
After Creation it was time to drive home going up the road towards Caledon. We had to make a stop at Dassiesfontein on the N2 and Loraine needed some Nagtegal jam
Looks like they have embraced solar power, we applaud them
It is a crazy place, each room piled high with all sorts of things to buy. Baskets anyone?
Or lamps and chandeliers or wood burning stoves in the restaurant, all for sale
Food being cooked on some of those stoves in the shop
On the way back to town you pass through our wheat lands, and at this time of the year with corn just beginning to ripen, it is a wondrous sight. We saw a field of blue cranes, our national bird, drinking at the dam with the sheep, just too many to count, such a special sight, they are rare. We so hope they will not be not affected by the Bird flu being brought in by returning birds migrating south

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