Friday, October 12, 2018

Blaauwklippen Blending Competition 2018 prize presentation lunch

Time for the Blaauwklippen Blending Competition (BBC) awards, now in its 35th year. Every year Blaauwklippen holds a blending competition for wine clubs. Clubs who enter from all over South Africa, are sent four varietals and asked to make a certain type of blend. This year it was to be a a playful but chic blend to enjoy anytime with friends & family, but with enough backbone to be savoured at a special occasion; from Shiraz 2017, Malbec 2017, Petit Verdot 2017 and Merlot 2017
We were welcomed by good snacks, too large to call them canapés, but delicious
The four teams who were finalists were there and just a few media; many are down with flu
We stood out on the terrace, getting to know each other and drinking some Zinfandel bubbly
The trophies, the main one hidden, before the announcement was made
Lunch was at the long table
The menu
Three different butters
And some very good olive bread
Our starter was titled The Smoking Battlefield and was hidden under a glass dome filled with smoke
Removed by the waiting staff, it released a puff of rooibos smoke
and was an interesting dish of excellent gravadlax in beetroot and orange, with naked pickled squid rounds, refreshing segments of lemon, orange and grapefruit, slices of raw beetroot, a morsel of sweet beetroot cheesecake (hmm, jury out on that), raspberries and a sesame crisp. Couldn't find the promised licorice pearls? Overall a good dish. Served with a glass of the 2018 white Zinfandel
The winning blend was served with our main course, but the winner was still unidentified. We sat with many of the contestants and it is fun to see who recognises their own blend. Not many do! This is probably the best blend we have tasted in many a year; it fulfilled its brief so well: playful and also chic, it is rich, soft and enjoyable and, yes, one to drink with family and friends. The winning blend has 36% Shiraz, 23% Malbec, 17% Petite Verdot & 14% Merlot. It is savoury first on the nose, then violets from the Petite Verdot, spice from the Shiraz and lots of dark red fruit. On the palate, soft and sweet with liquorice and rich red fruit, a kick of spice. Alcohol and fruit acid mean it might keep well for a year or three. And salty on the end

The main course was a large portion of tender and flavourful braised beef short rib in a rich and shiny mushroom demi-glace sauce, with a butternut and sage risotto, unusually topped with lots of crisp panko crumbs and small light butternut fritters. A good match for the wine. The best thing on the dish (and this does not take away from the good cooking of the rest of it) was also the simplest: the wonderful fresh broad beans. It is such a treat to have this wonderful (nicely cooked) vegetable served, it is so rare in South Africa. We all said we could have had a bowl of this as a course all on its own!
PRO Emile Joubert with the announcement of the winners
Nanette De Hart, who is the Hospitality Manager
and is the sister of Narina Cloete, the winemaker, who told us that the competition had been started 35 years ago by Walter Finlayson. This year there were 74 entries. The four finalist wine clubs were Business Time (Western Cape), Digital Blenders (Western Cape), Hartbeespoort Vélo et Vin (North West) and the Lydenburg Wynproewersgilde (Mpumalanga). All four of these cultivars, Shiraz, Malbec, Petite Verdot and Merlot had to be used in the final blend and each of the wines, which are marked for use in the Blaauwklippen range, received a variation of oak regimes. Each of the wine components was limited to a minimum of 5% of the blend and no more than 50% of the total blend. Judges for this year’s competition were Narina Cloete (winemaker at Blaauwklippen), Clive Torr (Cape Master of Wines), Spencer Fondaumiere (Sommelier at Warwick)
Christo Hamman, Farm manager and Viticulturist at Blaauwklippen
Each of the finalist teams had a chance to introduce itself
Paul Ackerman, the spokesman for Business Time (Western Cape)
Ananda Abreu of Digital Blenders (Western Cape),
Niel van Deventer spoke for Hartbeespoort Vélo et Vin (North West)
and dentist Jakkie Swanepoel of Lydenburg Wynproewersgilde (Mpumalanga)
Head Judge Clive Torr CWM told us that all four finalists made completely different but good blends. The judges were impressed. In the past several clubs have come up with the same blend, this year there were 3, but none were winners
The first award was for the Newcomer of the Year, Hartbeespoort Vélo et Vin 
getting a hug from the Winemaker
and the BBC winner is... Yes, it’s Hartebeespoort Vélo et Vin (North West) ...
... all looking very happy indeed
In the sunshine with their wine
The Trophy

AND ... another newcomer is soon on the way! Niel van Deventer (on the right) who is a film producer, and his wife have just moved to Cape Town from Gauteng
Time for The Flaming Cannonball. Lynne had to restrain her neighbours, who were planning to drop one ball on another from a height to break them,
as she had a inkling of what was going to happen next
Flaming brandy was poured over the chocolate ball
and it slowly melted, revealing the delicious, decadent contents: a rich dark chocolate delice with hazelnut and brandy cake, a trio of raspberries and hints of Turkish delight. One of the best and certainly the most theatrical desserts we have had this year. Applause! not just to this but for an excellent meal
Great service too by the staff, so well trained and pleasant
and here they all are with talented chef Louise Veldhuisen
Can’t wait to see who and what wins next year

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