Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Sauvignon Blanc Media Lunch at Janse & Co

“Change is happening”, said the Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group, so we were invited to join them and taste some impressive Sauvignons Blanc with lunch to find out what those changes were. The event was held at Janse and Co, where chef and owner Arno Janse van Rensburg now does his magic. We remember him and his cooking from Maison Restaurant in Franschhoek where he worked for several years

A glass of Steenberg's sparkling Sauvignon Blanc was on offer as we arrived
PRO Yolandi de Wet and photographer Angela Gorman
The restaurant is very modern and all in black, charcoal and grey. It is at 75 Kloof Street
Wines on offer with lunch; we could choose two at a time and had great enjoyment doing so. We were not driving that day
Some more excellent Sauvignon Blanc
Journalist and PRO Emile Joubert with winemaker JD Pretorius, who has just moved from Steenberg to Warwick. We were meant to sit outside but, sadly, the day was cold and damp so they moved us inside
The kitchen is open, so we could watch the chefs preparing the food. It is very intricate
Chef Owner Arno Janse van Rensburg
Arno and Liezl Odendaal about to begin service
The menu gives no hints at all about the dishes, just the ingredients therein
As canapés, we were served some salamis, some seed crackers and those Italian puffed breads called Gnoccho Fritto from Emilia Romagna - the second time in a week; they must be trending
Lots to go around
and more excellent Sauvignon Blanc, chilling in ice buckets
Kleine Zalze Winemaker R J Botha is Chairperson of Sauvignon Blanc SA. He told us that 40% of all wine sold in South Africa presently is Sauvignon Blanc and 80% of that is selling at premium prices, over the R100 a bottle threshold. This is 6 times more than Chenin, twice as much as Chardonnay and three times more than Cabernet Sauvignon. (Impressive figures). The consumers are prepared to pay for premium wines. The association is promoting Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa and abroad. Producers are in touch with new trends and, with the help and support of FNB, it is a huge success. Therefore it is time to take it to the next level and they are now working with AgriExpo focusing on producers. If you want to read their Press Release giving much more detail click on this link to their web page https://sauvignonblanc.com/news/in-the-news/ From a public perspective, most people get to know the organisation through its prominent annual FNB Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 competition. The championship’s important dates for this year are the opening for entries at end July; judging from 3rd to 6th September and the gala awards evening on Wednesday 9th October. A technical seminar based on this year's performance is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 20th November in Franschhoek
Dr Carien Coetzee from Basic Wine, who has been contracted to write a series of exclusive technical reports, will do the Technical Liaison with producers. They will support producers with information and keep them up to date about what is happening world-wide with Sauvignon Blanc. Journal articles and other information will be transformed so that it is digestible information which can be used in the winery.  Winemakers and researchers in wine will be talking together, having discussions about where they are going. Experimental wines will be discussed and what is happening and working in the cellars. There will be a technical day at the end of the year at which international experts will talk about their country's Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon SA will help producers to make quality Sauvignon Blanc
The Sauvignon Blanc Interest Group will henceforth be known as Sauvignon Blanc South Africa and this is the new logo. They are sending out a message from South Africa to the rest of the wine world: "We are big players in the industry". They are in negotiations with Concours Mondial 2021 to be the first New World country to host this prestigious competition. This year it is being held in Aigle, in the Swiss region of Vaud
The lunch menu and the cutlery box on every place setting. The four hints for each course do not give one any clue about what food is about to be served. It is all a huge mystery, which we find a little disconcerting, not knowing what we are about to eat. A culinary adventure into a world of ingredients, with some smoke and mirrors
The wine lists we could choose from
A superb Blanc Fumé (wooded Sauvignon Blanc) from Vrede and Lust
Good fresh bread, still warm and some ash butter. We do hope the ash craze ends soon,
as trying to avoid eating burnt carbon is not easy. It has been linked to cancer
Aubergine, Sesame, Shiitake, Coriander was a small roasted banana aubergine with a puddle of grey sesame tahini sauce, some dried shiitake mushroom crumbs, which had a good nutty crunch and a spoonful of what tasted like a very rich aubergine paté with mushroom. There was a hint of vinegar to counteract the richness. John had something else resembling this, but without the mushroom and a lot more crumbs. Not sure whether green coriander was in the grey sauce or whether the ground spice had been used. Certainly couldn’t taste green coriander which is not our favourite herb. The dish flattened one of our favourite Sauvignon Blancs, the de Grendel Koetshuis, but worked with the Strandveld. Horses for courses.... (sic)
Sunchoke, cocoa, sunflower, basil. Sunchoke is also known as Jerusalem artichoke and this dish had it in at least three different ways, thinly sliced raw, lightly pickled, well roasted gnarley bits that hadn't been peeled (very delicious) and slices that had probably been baked. Some was a bit fibrous. They were on a cocoa, and possibly sunflower seed, sauce and topped with fresh basil leaves, which took the dish to a whole new dimension. We love Jerusalem artichokes, despite their known windy after-effects, but they are very difficult to find in SA. It is a root from a member of the sunflower family. The Diemersdal has a wonderfully aromatic nose with hints of salt and kelp, then green pepper pyrazines and the crisp long layers of fresh, classic Durbanville Sauvignon Blanc. The 2015 Mulderbosch also has a great nose of mature Sauvignon Blanc with those identifiable pyrazines. Lovely, rich and full mouthfeel
Chefs at work on the pass
Next course: Line fish, Kale, Sorrel, Furikake. The line fish was later identified as silver fish. Quite fishy smelling, it has a very soft texture. It had been fried well, possibly in butter, and had a good golden crispness on the edges. It had a few bones and some scales. The dreaded Kale - we have yet to meet anyone who actually likes this very healthy vegetable, often fed to cattle, was served two ways, boiled (very chewy), and crisp fried, so glassy, and sprinkled with the Furikake. That is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of cooked rice, vegetables, and fish. It typically consists of a mixture of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate. The creamy sauce probably had the sorrel in it. Sorrel adds a good acid freshness to food and certainly the sauce went well with the fish. Nitida's Wild Child 2017 Sauvignon Blanc has a mature nose and palate of limes and elderflower; we loved it. Really good with the fish. The Diemersdal Winter Ferment 2018 with a screw cap was fresh and zesty and another great wine with fish
Dessert was titled Afrikoa Chocolate, Pecan Nut, Shiso. We surmise from this lovely dessert that they have a good pastry chef, as it was much enjoyed at our table. Afrikoa is the first bean-to-bar company in South Africa to produce chocolate made from cocoa sourced directly from African farmers. The chocolate mousse was rich and fruity and very smooth. Beneath it was a thin dark chocolate cake. Thin slivers of Pecan meringue raised the game. We have never had Shiso leaves on a dessert. They are used often in savoury Japanese food. Although they are a member of the mint family, they have little flavour and added nothing to the dish but greenness. As a mint leaf might. The Kleine Zalze is very green on both the nose and palate with long dark flavours and was good with the rich dessert. An interesting meal with some extraordinary and great wines. Yes, we are fans of Sauvignon Blanc in all its different styles and ages
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

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