Thursday, March 01, 2018

Tapas and wine at Bouchon Bistro & Wine Bar

Dorrance Wine Cellar, Heritage Square in Cape Town
We love wine bars and often wonder why they have not really caught on in the Cape. There are a few, but there could be many more. When Lynne returned to Cape Town from London in 1993 she wanted to open one. It will never work she was told, people don’t go out after work, they go home first and then they go out. But it seems things have changed and as Cape Town has become more work flexible, lots of people want to meet friends after work. We decided to go and see how Dorrance were succeeding with theirs
Christoph Durand was a barrel trader from France who decided to settle in the Cape more than two decades ago. He started to make his own (then garagiste) wines in rented spaces, but now has his own Dorrance mini winery at the back of the wine bar in the middle of central Cape Town
It looks more like a restaurant and, indeed, it has tied up with Faisal Khakoo of La Bohème bistro in Sea Point, who runs the kitchen - they serve a tapas menu. We were surprised to see linen table cloths in a wine bar and in the drought. They also serve other alcohols and we saw this gin tray with a selection of local artisanal gins ... gin cocktail anyone?
We read on the website that Dorrance wines are available for tasting till 6 pm and thereafter the wine bar is open but, although we arrived before six, the tastings were not taking place as it is harvest time. We did persuade the friendly staff to allow us a small tasting of three of their available wines
The Dorrance 2014 Chardonnay Cuvée Anaïs (R317 / R81 a glass on the menu) is rich and complex on the nose; full of peaches, with a full palate with more rich lushness and hints of peaches and apricots with citrus on the end. Wood lees are its backbone. It’s a Bourgogne with lots and lots of sunshine! The Dorrance Rouge (R150 / R50 a glass) is 100% Cinsault from the Swartland. It has the characteristic slightly metallic, almost Pinot Noir nose with gentle berry fruit. Clean rhubarb and cherries on the palate, a nice quaffing wine, and a good expression of what Cinsault ban be like in South Africa. It washes the palate and has long flavours. The 2014 Syrah Cuvée Ameena (R350 / R88 a glass) has spice and white pepper with soft bruléed cherries on the nose. Crisp on the palate with lively fruit acids, mulberries from the tree, soft chalky tannins, warmth on the end and a steely old world finish
The specials of the day
The three page tapas menu. Lots of choice! We asked about the sizes and they are all about 100g, so four would be good for two people, which is what we ordered. With her meal Lynne ordered a glass of the Dorrance Rosé also made from 100% Cinsault (R150 / R50). We assume that it is made with the free run juice of the Rouge. It has the same nose, but is much lighter and softer on the palate. John had a glass of the Viognier
Crispy curry spiced fried calamari on parsley couscous with aioli (R72.50). Nice and crisp tentacles and polpetti; we didn’t detect much curry spice, a good light aioli and superb olive oil couscous with parsley. Topped with fresh tomato, pea shoots and a slice of lemon. The chardonnay loved the couscous
Tuna Crudo with teriyaki and a mango and Peppadew salsa (R87.50) Fresh from the sea tuna, beautifully pink in a caramelised teriyaki, so, so good. There was competition eating this dish. Topped with raw onion, chilli and coriander salsa. Didn't notice any mango. The red chilli fought with the wine
Prawn and Spring Onion gnocchi in garlic and pecorino sauce (R79.50). Round in shape, rather doughy gnocchi, reminded us more of Chinese dim sum because of the texture and the spring onions. Loved the pecorino cream sauce. Plenty of prawns which were a bit chewy, topped with lemon, pepper and pea shoots, a good dish
Duck Rillette with toast and pickles (R70.50) Quite a dry rillette, no duck fat residue, good flavour. Served with good pickled cucumber and onion and toasted ciabatta bread. The duck and the pickles need each other, they sing together
The bill

Now we have to go back and try some more of those enticing Tapas. And hopefully the new season Chenin when it is available, currently it is sold out
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