Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Cape Wine Master Graduation Lunch at Neethlingshof

We were very grateful to be able to accept this invitation
We missed the event last year when we were travelling
Held at Neethlingshof wine estate in Stellenbosch on a perfect, warm Autumn day
A glass of the Hill and Dale fruity non vintage salmon pink Sparking Brut Rosé, made in the Prosecco style with 9.4 g/l sugar
It is made from Colombard and some good red Stellenbosch fruit. Lots of ripe strawberries and cherries, and good acid balance
One might hazard a guess at some Mourvedre and Merlot being added ...
Debi van Flymen CWM and Conrad Louw CWM, Chairman, Institute of Cape Wine Masters
Maryna Calow of WOSA in conversation with Cathy Brewer CWM of Villiera
Bennie Howard is always great as the Master of Ceremonies. He is informative, entertaining, and brief
He tells rather good stories too. He welcomed us to the event. This year, there is only one graduate
Niel van Deventer, Neethlingshof CEO, welcomed us to the farm. They were in the Distell stable but, in 2017, they moved away and the Schreiber family has taken the property back and are now the sole owners, looking to the future success of the farm
Neethlingshof Cellarmaster De Wet Viljoen told us that there is a lot of investment in the vineyards, cellars and the property. They have no shortage of wine at Neethlingshof and we should all come back and visit. He is enjoying the beautiful weather but he wants more rain this year - as do we all. He said 2019 was the most challenging harvest of his 16 years at Neethlingshof. The aromatics on white grapes were amazing; it is "Wait and See" on the reds. They are elegant wines, with low alcohols in the style of early 1980s wines
This is the wine served with the starter: Neethlingshof's excellent Gewürztraminer. From old dry land vines which will qualify for the Old Vines project next year. With rose petals, jasmine and honeysuckle on the nose and palate, this lovely wine has good fruit, nice balanced acidity and sweetness, it is just off dry. Lots of litchi and zesty citrus with a hint of spice

The menu
The Gewürz was the perfect match for this hot, spicy and creamy cauliflower soup,
dressed with crisp pancetta, roasted florettes of cauliflower and some sorrel
We were in the area designed for banqueting
There was a very large turnout of Cape Wine Masters at the Graduation, larger than they have had for many years
There are 102 Cape Wine Masters currently and just over 40 were at the ceremony
A toast from Bennie Howard CWM, Cathy van Zyl MW and Institute Chairman Conrad Louw CWM
This was Jacqui Henderson's day; she was graduating as a Cape Wine Master
Harry Melck CWM, Principal of the Cape Wine Academy
He told us that the Cape Wine Academy had just celebrated its 40th Birthday. It was inaugurated on the 1st of May 1979
and Jacqui Henderson was presented with her certificate and badge
She made an excellent speech, telling us about the hard work achieving this distinction entails and thanking all those who had helped her on this exciting journey of very tough study - her family, her friends, people in the industry and her teachers
She said that, for her, the hardest thing has been that she did not have the same confidence that her peers had, but today she graduates. Jacqui's thesis was on the Chardonnays of Elgin, which is quite appropriate as Jacqui handles Iona's local sales and Marketing. She works with Iona's owner Andrew Gunn and his wife Rosie. Rosie is Jacqui's sister. She told us that, while she grew up in the Eastern Cape and might have been expected to go to Rhodes University, she chose to go to university at UCT because that was where the wine was. But she had never tasted beer, let alone wine! But she was curious and tried one wine each month. She became a school teacher and taught for 20 years. Once she was working at Iona, she enrolled in the introductory course at the Cape Wine Academy, and went from there to where she is today. She is hard of hearing and said it was a real challenge. A hearing aid gave her courage. And there were several setbacks along the way with her second dissertation being lost when her car was burgled. She thanked her mentors like Winnie Bowman CWM, Brad Gold CWM (and GM at Iona), Juliet Garner, her study partner Karen Visser CWM, her family and especially her children and her husband Rob, whom she said had become a gourmet family cook while she studied. And also Melanie de Villiers who edited her thesis. Melanie whom Jacqui taught years ago, was present to see her get her certificate, as was her husband, Rob Henderson
A group photograph of all the Cape Wine Masters who were present
The main course was to be served with red wine, but we were also offered the Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc,
full of fig leaves and fig flavours, intensely green and full of pyrazines with good acidity
We found that we preferred it with the fish, even though we have no problem drinking red wine with fish
Villiera Cellarmaster Jeff Grier CWM had an important announcement for us
Duimpie Bailey CWM, a much loved and respected doyen in our profession will be turning 80 on the 1st of October this year
Duimpie gets a kiss from Winnie Bowman CWM
FC "Duimpie" Bayly CWM
and Jeff had another announcement. The Bubbly Producers of South Africa make a Passion for Bubbly Award to a person who achieves an outstanding score in tasting and awards the Villiera Sabre Trophy to inspire Cape Wine Masters to have a great love for Bubbly. At the AGM, one bottle of bubbly was drunk by each member present!
Please push this trend and help to celebrate the history and excitement of sparkling wine
And this award went to Jacqui Henderson CWM, who was very surprised and delighted to receive it and the Trophy,
which is a Sabre. Lessons in Sabrage would be given to her
Brad Gold CWM flashes that Sabre
and Rob Henderson holds the Certificate
The main course of Kingklip, served on a white bean, chorizo and baby spinach stew, topped with salsa verde
This was paired with the Neethlingshof Shiraz. Dark and deep in flavour, intense dark berry fruit with wood and licorice flavours
and some spice. It was served chilled
Dessert was a huge slice of rich Sticky Toffee Pudding, served with a chocolate and red berry gel
and a good sprinkling of roasted hazel nut crumble
The Neethlingshof Maria Noble Late Harvest was served with the dessert. Made from Riesling, it has honey and apricots on the nose and palate with a good marmalade end. It has a good acid sugar balance and so is not cloyingly sweet. The residual sugar is 180 g/l. We were also treated to Oude Meester 10 year old and Van Ryn 12 year old brandies with our coffees. It was a very enjoyable occasion. We often wonder what our lives would have been like if we had continued on to study for the Cape Wine Master qualification when we qualified with our diplomas from the Cape Wine Academy in 1999. We had the opportunity, having scored high enough marks to study for the Masters, but decided to open our wine and food shop instead. A good way to leave the corporate world!

All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

No comments: