Thursday, June 28, 2018

Iona tasting before supper at Hussar Grill, Camps Bay

At one of the recent trade wine tastings we met the manager of the Camps Bay Hussar Grill and he invited us to one of their regular Monday evening guided wine tastings - a different wine farm presents the tasting each week. You can phone and ask to attend should you be in the area. They start at 6.30 and you need to book. They can only accommodate 35 people.  Our invitation was also for dinner afterwards. The Hussar Grill is up Camps Bay Drive, and not on the sea front
We were welcomed at the bar with a glass of Miss Molly bubbly
They have two draught beers from Darling Brewery, Rogue Pony Pale Ale and Blood Serpent dry hopped Lager, and cold Castle Lite on draught.  A good collection of spirits and the two barmen, who don't drink,can make good cocktails
The restaurant is quite cavernous with several different areas
There are lots of tables, some with good views
It is a popular local haunt. Hussar Grill which was started in 1964, has several branches and franchises in South Africa and one in Zambia
They are committed to using only Class-A grain-fed beef and game
Chef Johann van der Spuy welcomed us and chatted for a while about the restaurant and his food and later guided us through our choices from the menu for dinner
The Specials Menu
They have an impressive and extensive wine list (this is just some of it) which has won a Diners Club Platinum Award, but if you bring your own wine to drink, they do not charge corkage. This is quite an incentive if you have a collection of good wines
Time to begin the free guided wine tasting. This week it was Iona from the Elgin valley and our guide was Juliette Collins, their Sales and Marketing Manager who has been with the farm for 5 years. Werner Muller is the winemaker. These tastings can be for up to 35 people, so if you are interested in attending, contact the Camps Bay Hussar Grill
These are the wines we tasted. We began with their classic cool climate Sauvignon Blanc, full of green fig leaves, herbs and elderflowers; it is full on the palate, crisp and long and refreshing with minerality, again with those classic Sauvignon Blanc flavours. One of our top Sauvignons, this scores very highly with overseas wine writers. The vineyard is on the top of their hill and is cooled by sea breezes daily. Then the Iona 2016 Chardonnay with vanilla wood, rich golden fruit and only 15% new oak. The fruit on the palate is ripe peaches and pears with melons, and lemons adding the counterpoint, the wine has warmth and long flavours with good complexity and minerality. Winemaker Werner is more gentle than most in his treatment of the Chardonnay and it shows
Some snacks for each table, good olives, home made crisps
... and some biltong; all went well with the wines
Heads down for tasting the wine. Next came the Mr P Pinot Noir, a reasonably priced entry level Pinot for the market. Vanillins, roses, lovely soft red berries on the nose, tight red fruit on the palate which opens out in the glass. Then the Solace 2015 Solace Syrah from a single biodynamic vineyard where Rozy Gunn seeks solace. No commercial yeast is used, just a natural ferment and no sulphur is added. It is spicy and so attractive on the nose with incense wood and on the palate with sweet, spicy berry fruit. Then finally the One Man Band blend of Shiraz 57%, Merlot 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 9%, Petit Verdot 9%, Mataro 7%, Viognier 3%,  Perfume and fruit leaps out of the glass at you, cassis and cherries on the nose and the palate which is rich. full and complex with some dry tannins showing quality. Well worth buying.  A very good tasting

We were delighted to be given the remains of the Solace to enjoy with our supper
The waitress brings this platter of the meat on offer that evening to each table so you can choose which you would like, what size and how you would like it cooked
Our starter of pork belly had a dark sticky sauce with orange and spices with a little chilli and some rather chewy crackling
An enormous lamb shank in a rich mirepoix and tomato based sauce nearly sank Lynne (she had asked for a small one) and she needed a doggie bag to take the left-over home to enjoy the following day (We do not have a dog, we do eat what we take home). The meat was tender and falling off the bone
John had the steak that Chef recommended, the T Bone rib steak, with most of the fat rendered off specially for him but still pink inside. The phenomenal chips were triple cooked and a couple were stolen by Lynne
We shared a dish of butternut and, hurray, freshly made iron rich creamed spinach - thankfully, no kale
Those chips, dusted with flaked salt, were glassy crisp on the outside and fluffy inside
When they told us we were having dessert, we blanched, being so satisfied already, but were utterly charmed by these small glasses of chocolate vodka topped with cream.  Just right for the end of a large and satisfying meal. Thank you Chef Johann
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