Thursday, February 06, 2020

Buitenverwachting - Living up to Expectation

We discovered that it had been three years since we last visited Buitenverwachting in Constantia, so an invitation from Cellarmaster Brad Paton to come and taste some of his wines with him was gratefully accepted. And very much appreciated, as he is in the middle of what looks like becoming a successful harvest
The farm Buitenverwachting (it means beyond expectation) originally formed part of the Constantia Estate which was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, the first Governor of the new Dutch Cape colony. Buitenverwachting as a separate entity dates back to 1769. It is owned by the Mueller family and Lars Maack, son of Mrs Christine Mueller, is the Managing Director
We met at their Tasting room and, because it was a hot day, took a seat under cover on the cooler porch on the right
Inside the tasting room, the staff were being kept busy by the many visitors sitting outside
Our cool table
Each weekend this lawn and another nearby are covered in people enjoying the lovely casual, unpressured atmosphere of Buitenverwachting, enjoying the wine, the platters, each others' company and just chilling.  It is where Constantia Fresh annual wine and gourmet food festival will be held on Sunday the 23rd of February. Details here
Brad is one of the longest serving winemakers in Constantia, having been at Buitenverwachting since 2004
The tasting sheet, but we were to taste a few more wines, some of Brad's new ventures and some of his special new wines
We began with the classic Buitenverwachting 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. The style of this wine defines the Sauvignon Blancs that Constantia can produce, and it never fails to disappoint. On the nose, green herbs and leaves, elderflower and good pyrazines.  Crisp, full and layered on the palate with greengage plums, elderflower and green peppers. There is a hint of gunflint minerality
Husseys Vlei 2019 Sauvignon Blanc has long been a favourite of ours. From a single vineyard, it is intense with green peppers on the nose and flinty. Crisp and beautiful, it charms. Cool at first, then intense clean flavours of green peppers appear with elderflower. It is unwooded, but has a hint of gun smoke, from the terroir
Then, from the Limited Release White Range, Maximus 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. This single vineyard wine has complex Sauvignon Blanc flavours with nuances of other grapes.  It is fermented on the lees in older barrels with no batonage or stirring. As John says, near impossible to spit, this is a fantastic food wine and was just released in December. Citrus, peach and loquat on the palate, long rounded flavours which keep developing and are in great balance
The 2018 Limited Release G is a classic Gewürztraminer and is one of the best in the Cape in our estimation. Perfumed with soft rose petals and Turkish delight on the nose, it even has that hint of cornflour that coats the Turkish delight. Clean, complex and surprisingly mature in flavour, the perfect wine for spicy food. There are flavours of orange, litchi and sandalwood, with citrus on the end. It has spent 10 months in old oak
The 2018 Chardonnay has golden oak notes on the nose, lovely fruit and smoke whiffs. Peach fruit and blossom, then other golden fruit appears in layers; it is mouth watering, so a  definite food wine. We would like this with cheese, fish and complex sauces. This is the style of Chardonnay we should continue to produce. It s complexity is due to 20% being fermented in three different ways: whole bunch, direct press to barrel and destemmed grapes. The direct press produces very reductive wine and flintstone characteristics from autolysis. Matured in light blond toasted barrels of different ages
We tasted the 2019 Blanc de Noir, a pretty rosé with raspberry flavours from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. It is zingy and crisp with good raspberry fruit, easy drinking and friendly and great with food. Brad has a new rosé coming which will be a limited edition called Gracious (after his daughter); we tasted it. It is very elegant, with cherry, mulberry and tobacco hints, silky soft on the palate with some cherry flavours. Very interesting. We tasted it again later when it was chilled and it was perfumed with cherry blossom. It is a beautiful rosé, so easy to drink, in the style that we want to drink
Sun dappled oak shadow on the awning above us
and a persistent hadeda ibis roams the lawn, spiking for worms
Under the shade of the central Norfolk Pine, families and friends picnic and enjoy the wines
Time for the red wines. First the 2017 Meifort; it sells so well and is terrific value for money at R110. Incense shows expensive wood on the nose, layers of rich berry fruit, with cassis leaves. The initial tight fruit with chalky tannins shows such promise for this wine. If you lay it down for a year or three it will astound you. But it is eminently drinkable now. Lynne's first thought was: "What am I going to eat with this wine?" and the answer was red meat! Better than a braai wine, it will go so well with steak and roasts. There is softness and concentration in the wine that opens to cherry, berry fruit, so lekker (Afrikaans for delicious)
John has coined a new phrase for this unreleased wine, here served in a decanter, which opens the wine up more
It is "Beyond expectoration"
We did taste another superb red wine that Brad has made but which is not yet released. All we can say is that it was spectacular and we think is going to change things. A lot. You may have noticed a slight difference in colour between glass and decanter in the photo above. Both of the above two wines are in the picture. And Brad has some other new babies in the pipeline. We tasted one of them, a blend, and the palate was extraordinary - this is going to win awards. Watch for their new releases

The 2015 Phoenix is another Buitenverwachting Limited Release, made from 100% Petit Verdot, only 3000 bottles. It spends 36 months in 100% new French Oak and is totally in balance. On the nose, you can smell the expensive wood with the mulberry fruit. Soft berries and chalky tannins make this a 10 year wine, some good brulée notes, mulberry, rhubarb and cherry. It reminds us of the older red wines of the valley which have lasted so well
You might think that these large bottles of Christine are just too expensive or too large, but they are actually perfect for a large dinner party, a special occasion with lots of guests and for Weddings. The wine matures much better in larger bottles. They are available for purchase in the tasting room.
We were rather ravenous after such a wonderful tasting and Buitenverwachting produced this huge platter for us to enjoy. It certainly satisfied. Three dips, humus, feta and olives on tomato and a spicy peppadew. Great bread, butter, crackers, olives, grapes, preserved fig, peppers and other crudités, cornichon, dried apricots, cheese and meat. Great value at R230 for 2 (R245 on the lawn)

They do have other food as well (image courtesy of Buitenverwachting)
Their wine tasting fee is R60 per person for 5 wines
Our final wine is a knockout. The 2017 Buitenverwachting 1769 Noble Late Harvest dessert wine from Muscat de Frontignan, as good, if not better than some of the other iconic Constantia dessert wines. Brad says this is the best he has produced. Saffron yellow in colour, floral with herbal notes of oregano and mint, with honey and toffee on the nose; it is a classic. Pure honeycomb honey dripping into the glass, followed by a squeeze or two of lemon and lime, some apricots and crisp apple, so much in balance. Long lasting flavours, barley sugar, complexity and good viscosity, so impressive. It spends 10 months in barrel
Baby steps. A Swiss couple and their enchanting child, learning to stand and walk
Thank you Brad and the Buitenverwachting staff, so much, for a really superb tasting and day at Buitenverwachting
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All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus
Our final wine is a knockout.  The 2017  Buitenverwachting 1760 Noble Late Harvest dessert wine from Muscat de Frontignan, as good, if not better than some of the other iconic Constantia dessert wines. Brad says this is he best he has produced.  Saffron yellow in colour, floral with herbal notes of oregano and mint, with honey, and toffee on the nose,  it is a classic.  Pure honeycomb honey dripping into the glass followed by a squeeze or two of lemon and lime, some apricots and crisp apple, so much in balance. long lasting flavours, barley sugar, complexity and good viscosity, so impressive. It spends 10 months in barrel/
 Baby steps. A Swiss couple and their enchanting child, leaning to stand and walk.
Thank you Brad and the staff, so much for a really superb tasting and day at Buitenverwachting. 

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