Friday, June 14, 2019

On the MENU this week. Pea, Lentil and Ham Hock Soup

It is definitely winter in Cape Town this week. We have had some good rain and the temperature has dropped to single figures. So warming and nourishing soup is the order of the day.  This is one we love and it is very easy to make.  And it will do for a couple of meals for a small family

200g Split peas– 200g red split lentils – 1 tablespoon oil - 2 onions, finely chopped
2 large carrots, diced – 2 long celery sticks, diced – 1 ham hock – 2 bay leaves
a good handful of chopped thyme - salt and black pepper
Pour boiling water over the peas and lentils to cover them and allow them to soak for an hour or two. Drain. In a large soup pan with a cover, fry the onions until just taking on colour in a tablespoon of oil and then add the carrots and celery.  Continue to cook for about 5 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the peas, lentils, herbs and the ham hock. Cover with water – about 2 or 3 litres and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until the ham hock starts to fall apart and the pulses have melted down. Remove the hock and the bay leaves from the soup, take off all the skin and fat and roughly chop up the meat and replace it in the soup. Feed the skin, fat and bone to your hungry dog, or the neighbours. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt and a good grinding or two of black pepper. Be careful, some ham hocks are quite salty. Serve with crisp croutons and some good red wine.  We had this with our Wine of the Week, Tanagra Cabernet Franc, and it went so well

All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

MENU’s Wine of the Week is Tanagra Cabernet Franc 2015

We were gifted this bottle of when we stayed at Tanagra wine farm in McGregor during this year’s Wacky Wine Weekend. We took it home and had it with two meals, Pea, Lentil and Ham Hock Soup and a Lasagne that Lynne made.  It was superb with both and is a really versatile food wine. It does not dominate food, just compliments it.
Perfumed with cassis and cherry, it is fruity with soft tannins and great depth.  Black cherry and mulberry flavours entice with dark wood notes on the end. A very good wine with food. R140 a bottle on the farm, well priced for this quality. Made by Lourens van der Westhuizen from Tanagra’s grapes

All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

This Week’s MENU. Robertson’s Wacky Wine Weekend, Part One - Tanagra, Kranskop, De Wetshof, Weltevrede, Zandvliet, Ex Diem, Bonnievale. Tanagra Cab Franc, Pea, Ham and Lentil Soup

Early morning mist in the Bonnievale valley, near Robertson

This week, we have one story to tell. It has several chapters and they comprise so many different stories that we have held several of them over until next week. For many years, Robertson Wine Valley has been the country’s most active wine region, encouraging tourism and giving us, members of the media, stories to relate to you. Each year they hold seasonal festivals, Hands on Harvest, Robertson Slow, Wine on the River and this, the Wacky Wine Weekend. They are always very well organised by the Robertson Wine Valley management, with the rider that it is up to the individual farms to entertain their visitors to the best of their ability. Read on to see how well they did…

This was our first visit to Robertson Wine Valley's Wacky Wine Weekend since 2011 and we were very happy to be invited this year. Much smaller than in previous years; we were saddened to see how many farms, smaller and larger, no longer take part and wonder whether this is enough to sustain this winter festival…

Our hosted accommodation was at Tanagra Wine Farm in McGregor, which was taking part in the festival with its wines, grappa and Eau de Vie. We were warmly welcomed by the owners, Anette and Robert Rosenbach, and taken to The Garden Cottage where we were to stay, which was very comfortable and is perfect for self catering…

Our first port of call after checking in to Tanagra was Kranskop Wine estate in Klaasvoogds, near Robertson. It was really good to see owner/cellarmaster Newald Marais again.  He invited us to stay at Kranskop in October last year, when we visited Robertson for the De Wetshof Chardonnay Celebration…

We asked to visit some of the newer wineries which we had not yet visited and Ex Diem was one of them. It is in the beautiful Klaasvoogds valley behind Kranskop and produces olives, olive oil and some wines…

Our next stop, after ExDiem and Ashton, was at De Wetshof for a comparative tasting of Chardonnays from the area. The view up the jacaranda avenue is superb when it is flowering…

Our tasting at De Wetshof finished at 5.30 and we were only expected at Zandvliet at 6.30 for 7. It would take an hour to drive back and forth to our accommodation so we had time to waste. Most tasting centres would be closed, so we went to see how the river was flowing from the red iron bridge that crosses it, on the way to Bonnievale…

Up bright and early on a wet and cold morning, we rushed the 45 minutes from McGregor via Robertson to Bonnievale. We were reluctant to take the quick route through the mountains because we had been told it could be slippery on the dirt road, so we went the long way round…

Down the road from Weltevrede, through Bonnievale village and around the corner to Bonnievale Cellars which was nice and busy with people tasting the wines…

14th June 2019

PS If a word or name is in bold type and underlined, click on it for more information

Phones: +27 21 439 3169 / 083 229 1172 / 083 656 4169
Postal address: 60 Arthurs Rd, Sea Point 8005

Recommendations of products and outside events are not solicited or charged for, and are made at the authors’ pleasure. All photographs, recipes and text used in our website and ancillary works are © John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus. Our restaurant reviews are often unsolicited. We prefer to pay for our meals and not be paid in any way by anyone. Whether we are invited or go independently, we don’t feel bad if we say we didn’t like it. Honesty is indeed our best policy. While every effort is made to avoid mistakes, we are human and they do creep in occasionally, for which we apologise.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Robertson Wine Valley's Wacky Wine Weekend 7. Bonnievale Cellar

Down the road from Weltevrede, through Bonnievale village and around the corner to Bonnievale Cellars
which was nice and busy with people tasting the wines
They had a large selection of wines to taste
We were interested in tasting the two Bubblies. Not MCC, the wine is gassed in the bottle
The Brut is made from Sauvignon Blanc and the Pink is an interesting fizzy wine made from Cinsault
In the marquee, they had some film makers interviewing the winemaker and some of the partners,
lots of guests and some live music
Our friend Carol Mills was there with her Kaapse Liqueurs and her chocolate shots were very popular. She makes award winning Limoncello and other good fruit flavoured liqueurs. We didn't dare have a shot, as spirits after wine go straight to Lynne's head and John still had to drive us back through Bonnievale and Robertson back to Tanagra near McGregor.  He was looking forward to an afternoon rest before we headed off to dinner in Montagu later
It was lunch time and many people were enjoying food from the food truck.
We tasted the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chenin and then decided to get some lunch too
The one food truck was popular and was just outside the marquee
We ordered the Hamburger and chips and had it with the prizewinning Bonnievale Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 which has just won the Old Mutual Trophy for Discovery of the Show / Best Value Gold Medallist.  It was very good, full of rich blackcurrant fruit and certainly is a food wine and is very good value. . You can buy it on line from  R630 for 6 bottles, R105 per bottle Click on this link:
The service was friendly and quick, the burgers were good and the chips crispy
We hope we are converting SA one chip at a time to crisp chips. Thank you GloriousFoodSA

Robertson Wine Valley's Wacky Wine Weekend 6. Weltevrede

Up bright and early on a wet and cold morning, we rushed the 45 minutes from McGregor via Robertson to Bonnievale
We were reluctant to take the quick route through the mountains because we had been told it could be slippery
on the dirt road, so we went the long way round
Our schedule said breakfast and we were rather hungry after the previous day's offerings of Roosterkoek
They had a marquee up over the restaurant tasting room area, but it was rather too cold to sit there, so we sat inside
The food on offer at Weltevrede
Chatting with Elzette van Zyl while enjoying a coffee and a cup of tea for Lynne
Our Breakfast Bun, filled with scrambled egg, nice crisp bacon and tomato ketchup
In good weather, they provide picnic baskets
A rainy day, very good for the vines
We were taken down into the underground cellars by Cellarmaster Philip Jonker for a candlelit tasting. They have opened up the old kuipe, concrete tanks in which wine was made in the past. The Jonker family bought the farm in 1912 and it has been worked by four generations thus far. The estate was founded by Klaas Jonker, whose pioneering soul led him to plant the first vines in the area. They still have the vines from the first wine made in 1926, it was a sweet muscat. These vines are now 96 years old. But, as Philip says, they have always responded to the changes in what people want to drink and so now concentrate on Chardonnays. He produces three terroir specific Chardonnays as well as four M├ęthode Cap Classiques, and some very good Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz
He told us some of the history of the farm and how his Great Grandfather started it
He says “My vision for the wines of Weltevrede is for them to be a pure expression of the terroir in which they are rooted
Our wine should have a personality dictated by the soil. It should have a sense of place”
It is quite romantic wandering through the kuipe tunnels, lit only by candlelight
As the other guests said, they must get through a lot of candles
We sat down to begin the tasting and began with the Philip Jonker Entheos MCC Brut,
made from a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, which spends up to 3 years on the lees
Bready on the nose, it has crisp apple and lemon zest on the sparkly palate, most enjoyable
Next, the Weltevrede 1912 Chardonnay from a single vineyard. We tasted the 2017 and the limestone terroir is very visible in this wine. Lots of fine minerality. It was fermented in French Oak barrels and has had no malolactic fermentation. Skin contact with batonage once a week. French oak matured for 6 months. It has golden fruit and some spice on the nose with butterscotch, pear, lemon, minerality and soft chalky tannins on the palate, with just a hint of wood
Philip wants these wines to be less showy but more elegant, show generosity of flavour and have complexity, which they do, and they are from unique sites. On the nose, the Place of Rocks 2018 reminded Lynne of a ripe cider apple orchard. It is full and round with crisp apple and lime flavours and dark wood. It is their most awarded wine, made in the Chablis style and is a wine we have bought several times in the past. Very clear oyster shell references to its terroir, a rock-filled vineyard
Next, we tasted the 2015 HardRock Cabernet Sauvignon, grown on shale. Rich red cassis berries, with hints of mushroom on the nose; it has lovely flavours of cassis with a little wildness and dark chocolate wood on the end. The Weltevrede 1912 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 has more minerality and is complex and sophisticated on the very French nose. Chalky grippy tannins, soft juicy cassis with depth and length, it is sappig (juicy) and shouts "Have me with food!"
The 2016 Bedrock Black Syrah from mineral bedrock terroir has sweet black cherry, berry fruit with spice and black pepper and long flavours, chalky tannins; another juicy wine. The Weltevrede 1912 Shiraz 2017 has it all and is, as Philip says, "the whole Pizza!" with savoury flavours and aromas of tomato, spicy sausage, good umami notes, cassis and some salty licorice drop, good chalky tannins with long flavours. A beautiful wine, so enjoyable and so versatile. It was a very fine tasting of some lovely wines
The wines we tasted
A wintry landscape. They are using the rocks and the hay bales to build a werf (yard) in front of the cellar
Next we were invited to degorge our own bottles of bubbly, another new experience for us
On the way in, you could taste olives, tapenade and olive oils from Ballini farm
The MCC has been riddled (turned) gently over several weeks until all the fermentation lees are in the neck
They have to be removed, so just the last 3 cm of wine in the bottle's neck is frozen before degorging
This is a pupitre in which the MCC bottles are turned and tilted until they stand on the crown caps
with which they have been temporarily sealed 
We now had to take an opener and quickly take the top off so that the ice cap shot out, taking all the detritus with it
Done! just a little fizz, but you have to move quickly and put in a small dose of wine to replace that which has been lost
Some of the dosage can be sugar to slightly sweeten the very dry bubbly to the cellarmaster's taste
And then you quickly apply a champagne cork using this interesting machine which compresses the large cork and squeezes it into the bottle. Then the muselet (that metal cap on the top) and its wire cage are put on to make sure the cork does not come out. The bubbly is under several atmospheres of pressure from the fermentation. And it needs to stay that way so that it retains its bubbles
Lynne getting rid of her ice cap
We are Well Satisfied at Weltevrede
We attached the labels, front and back, the foil and the neck label and the bottle was ours to keep
And a gold pen was used to personalise our own bottles
Enjoying the day at Weltevrede. Thank you Philip and all involved for giving us such a great experience with your special wines