Thursday, December 07, 2017

Thelema's annual Boland Braai

This annual celebration for the wine trade is held on the farm each year. This year was special as patriarch Gyles Webb had his 70th Birthday celebrations that week. A family event; everyone may bring their spouse and children and this year it was lovely to see so many new babies. The full range of Thelema and Sutherland wines is available for tasting. There is a generous spread of salads, cheeses and dessert and much sausage and steak is expertly cooked on the fire. We think these fellows could enter one of the Braai competitions and win
 It is held at the private residence of the Webbs, on the terrace and in their magnificent garden
Members of the family like General Manager Thomas Webb, winemaker Rudi Schultz and assistant winemaker Duncan Clarke and the sales marketing team take turns behind the table, pouring tasters of the wines
Platters of great local cheeses with fruit and relishes are there to stem appetites until the braai is ready and they go so well with the wines
Gyles is in charge of the fires and major domo of the braai with a lot of help from the others
The placid family dogs are child friendly and very good at clearing plates mistakenly left on chairs that are within their reach!
The Sutherland Viognier Roussane 2014 is one we really like. It is perfect for summer days and outdoor eating. This 50/50 blend is barrel fermented and so deserves its four and a half stars in Platter this year. The Sutherland Pinot Noir knocked our socks off. This typical elegant and softly fruity Elgin Pinot has legs to go and is backed up by lovely savoury flavours and some soft chalky tannins. We tasted an unlabelled new vintage of The Mint Cabernet sauvignon, full of the eucalypt mint flavours people have so enjoyed in Thelema cabernets of yore. The Sutherland cabernet (previously Cabernet Petit Verdot) delighted us when we bought it last year and we enjoyed the violets on the nose again with the new vintage. There are three Chardonnays, one each wooded from Thelema and Sutherland, which also has an unwooded version. All are delicious with the cooler climate of Elgin producing predictably leaner wines than the full-flavoured Stellenbosch Chardonnay. The two Sauvignons Blanc are so different. The Thelema from the Stellenbosch farm is slightly tropical and full, the Sutherland has more crisp acidity and typical green Sauvignon flavours; we think it is showing best at this time of the year, but they might swap places with a little more age.
Wood is on the way, now just the wait for good coals before the meat can go on. Gyles is supervising
The wonderful mountain views with the Jacarandas in bloom as people relax on the lawn and the children play and eat from their special snack table
Best Boerewors just singing on the coals
And some superb rump steak in its marinade. We were so impressed with its flavour and tenderness, apparently from Stellenbosch Checkers, which must have an excellent butcher, we don’t see meat this good in Sea Point
Done to perfection!
Thomas Webb takes a turn at the fires
Nicely pink and rare in the middle, with crisp fat on the outside
And very easy to cut
Boerewors all ready and portioned for the hungry mob waiting
Lots of chat, lots of trade customers, distributors and media enjoying the evening
Gyles with his wife Barbara and their newest grandchild
The sun is setting and turning the mountains purple and pink; we have been royally fed and 'watered' with great wine, so it is time to head home. Thank you all at Thelema. Happy Christmas and here’s to another successful wine-filled year. And Happy 70th Birthday Gyles
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