Thursday, August 30, 2018

A day at Benguela Cove

A media invitation to visit and experience what Benguela Cove has to offer the travel industry. We were last there a year ago and we cannot believe how much this estate has grown in infrastructure and buildings. A new tasting area, a large restaurant, a shop and a new state of the art cellar have gone up since we visited
Don’t touch, he's prickly
A rearing stallion in the currently empty fountain; there is still a drought in the Cape
A welcome at the reception desk
Fresh oysters
And some bubbly to stave off the chill
The shop
Love those mushroom lights
Chess in the courtyard which, sensibly, has Astroturf
Do a wine tasting and tour of the cellar
Outdoor lounges ....
... and more inside
Lots of comfortable couches and good views across the lagoon
Samarie Smith, the Brand Business Manager, welcomed us all. We could choose to take the boat trip on the lagoon, a cellar tour or a tour of the vineyards
As the rain was heading in, we chose to do the boat trip first. This is a view looking back to the new complex from the road en route to the boat club. The old tasting room on the left is being gutted to be turned into another attraction
Wonderful light and views of the mountains in the mist over the lagoon
We board the Lady Bonnie. Our pilot is Owen Wiggins
We wrap up in huge polar fleece blankets
Boat pilot Owen Wiggins whose grandfather, Owen Wiggins, was the founder of Port Owen at Velddrif on the West Coast, which we visited in January
Some Lighthouse Dry Rosé made from Shiraz, Mourvedre and Viognier to keep out the chill
Floating decks for summer swimming and a view of some of the lagoon side properties on Benguela Cove. One or two are for sale and some plots are still available.  The views they have are enviable, Lynne always said when we passed by, before the farm and the estate were established, that this is where she would choose to build a house, if it were possible. Penny Streeter bought the land and made it possible for others to live their dream
The club house which we have just left, with the safari car that took us there
Our wake
Clouds swooping lower over the mountain
Hmm, that one would do
And then the rain came in grey waves
We had shelter and were warm and enjoying the trip
She looks just like our figurehead, nice draping
Cormorants scudding past the boat
One takes off in a hurry
The Manor House, where Penny Streeter currently lives when she is here
It is being turned into luxury accommodation for hire
Winding roads on the estate
And back to the boat house to be transported back to the restaurant for lunch
Cormorant rocks in the lagoon
A welcome from Penny Streeter OBE, the owner of Benguela Cove
with her husband Nick Rea
Samarie Smith introduces Penny Streeter to the group and tells us about lunch and the chef
Assistant Winemaker Michelle Waldeck tells us about the wines
Ndosi Gumede, sommelier at Benguela Cove Group's Somerset West restaurant Nom Nom
Chefs on the pass preparing our lunch
The chef is Annie Badenhorst, originally from Namibia who has worked in some of our top restaurants like Sofia’s at Morgenster followed by The Restaurant and then Eikendal and Equus at Cavalli. Her philosophy is keeping things fresh, local and in the moment of inspiration
The menu for lunch
Cured venison with many different textures of butternut - from a raw ring to baked, puréed, roasted and caramelised, sprinkled with mustard seeds was our starter. The food was beautifully plated, fresh, innovative and interesting
The main course of fresh, flaky and soft hake on a bed of smoked tomato risotto, topped with soft young fennel bulbs and olives, coated in crisp confit garlic paste and deep fried. The dish was dressed with a cream sauce
Dessert was a spicy pain perdu made from banana bread that tasted like gingerbread, served with different roasted citrus slices, a crumb, a ginger sabayon and a tart and fresh yoghurt ice cream
We drank the Benguela Cove 2016 Chardonnay. This goes through natural fermentation in barrels and spends 10 months in oak. It has golden fruit on the nose with minerality, then white peaches and smoke. Full on fruit on the palate with crisp acidity, dryness and minerality, long flavours of pears, white peach and greengage. Very good with the food we were served. With dessert, we had the Sauvignon Blanc Noble Late Harvest; pure honey nose with some lime-soaked raisins and sultanas on the nose. Rich honey flavours, nicely balanced with fruit and acid and not very sticky
The restaurant is light and airy and spacious all in silver, gold and royal blue
A cheeky and rather tame duck wandered in looking for table scraps
He left something behind, as ducks will
Time for our cellar tour
Furniture and kit arriving for storage in the wine cellar
Discussing plans with the builders for a car park extension and a hotel
More wonderful winter skies.  That is a sand dune on the mountain, not snow.
And in the gravity fed cellar, designed by Gerard de Villiers, hang these beautiful chandeliers. They must inspire winemaker Johann Fourie as he makes excellent wines for Benguela Cove
Besides different shaped stainless steel tanks - the different shapes are thought to influence flavours, they have large wooden vats and a couple of oak foudres
Lots of new 300 litre barrels, many filled ...
... others waiting for a new harvest

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