Monday, March 13, 2017

Robertson Wine Valley's Hands on Harvest - Saturday

Robertson beckoned and we responded. We saw details of the festival on the internet and, as we haven't been to their Harvest Festival for many years, we decided to take our Dutch friends. Lynne managed to find reasonable accommodation on Bookings.com. Each farm does its own thing during this festival and some need booking so we made some, helped by Mira Weiner of Hot Oven Marketing and had a great weekend with our friends
Our friends like to stop off for coffee at 10 in the morning, so we left Cape Town at 8.30
and took them to the Nuy restaurant on the hill, just after Worcester Perfect timing
On offer were amazing looking cakes. A baked lemon cheesecake topped with marshmallow
A berry fridge cheesecake, lighter in texture
A caramel baked cheesecake. Slices of all were enjoyed with a perk-us-up coffee
We were warned about the roadworks on the way to Bonnievale, but arrived in plenty of time for our first appointment: a tasting of Weltevrede wines in the candlelit cellar. It was hot; the car’s instrument panel said that the outside temperature was 41⁰C in the sun
They have made a cave cellar using the old cement kuipe or wine fermentation tanks, where the wines were fermented in years gone by. Steyn Fullard, Weltevrede's Marketing Manager, took us through the tasting
He showed us how they remove the lees from the bubbly by the traditional method of riddling the bottles till the lees are in the neck and can be removed by freezing
The crown cap is removed and the frozen plug of ice and lees flies out. Dosage is added and the bottle is then corked in the traditional manner
A tunnel through the kuipe
There are seats in one of the kuipe and we started the tasting by candlelight
First some of their MCC bubbly
The first one was the Ring, their Blanc de Blanc MCC, 100% Chardonnay. Crisp and elegant and full of citrus and butter
Learning about the process
Very romantic
An enthusiastic imbiber .... of Weltevrede's non alcoholic fizzy grape juice
The wines we tasted
We then needed some sustenance and off we went to Esona just down the road for some light lunch
It was too hot to do another tasting and the tasting room upstairs was full anyway, we were told. So we sat downstairs on the terrace with welcome water misters and ordered a bottle of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and some sandwiches. Lovely views
Mountains and vines
Our wine in the cooler - very clever, a stainless steel bucket set into the top of an old barrel
Their shop
Upstairs under the roof
The upstairs tasting area
Wine on special - they have several older vintages on sale
Tables in the cellar, also in carved out old kuipe
Ham, cheese and tomato toasties with chips and a chilli jam dip. Just right
The back label tells all
More of those lovely views
Then off to Ashton Cellars to taste some of their wines, but by now the extreme heat was getting to us
So we went into town to pick up the keys and then headed out on Paul Kruger St into the countryside to our accommodation at Vredevallei, in the Keurkloof. It is on a dirt road for the last five or so minutes. You can see more of it in John's Early Morning Ramble
We had a nice nap, and then headed off to McGregor for our evening booking - dinner at Bemind, a garagiste wine cellar we were keen to visit. It was one of the few places hosting an evening event and we were grateful not to have to cook. Sadly, the area is not overburdened with good restaurants and in festival time they are usually full
Winemaker Ilse Schutte, originally from Potchefstroom, trained at Stellenbosch university and worked at Lords Winery in McGregor before going out on her own. She does not have any vineyards and buys in all her grapes. They are made on this property, really a garage adapted into a small town centre winery. Bemind means Beloved, as she says she makes wine from the heart
First we did a tour and watched the punch down of the Cinsault grapes. Six 750 litre plastic tanks filed with crushed grapes picked a few days ago, busy fermenting
Ilse cools the fermentation down by adding frozen plastic water bottles
Bubbles of CO2 are given off during fermentation
Punching down the grapes happens three or four times a day and it is not a job for sissies; it takes a huge amount of arm strength, the cap of grapes that forms is heavy and it has to be circulated in the wine to extract flavour, colour and tannin
Ilse tells us how she makes the wine. Her first vintage was 2015 and she makes four wines, an MCC from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, now sold out; a Sauvignon Blanc, Cinsault and a Shiraz
The barrel cellar is also the wine shop. All her barrels are second and third fill
Her four wines.We were able to taste them all as she very kindly opened a bottle of the still fermenting MCC; it’s very lively. She adds no dosage, so it will be a Brut Sauvage when it is ready, but it needs lots more time to ferment and settle on the lees in the bottle. We like the pink spotted collar
An interesting display stand
Tables were set out in the courtyard and in the garage. We began supper with this Green Gazpacho which the chef Corlea (a relative of Ilse) told us she had adapted from a Yottam Ottolenghi recipe. Quite delicious and cooling, we detected avocado, yoghurt, baby spinach, parsley, basil, celery, almonds, herbs and a little cucumber. Lynne wants to make it before summer ends. It was served with crisp ciabatta drenched in what tasted like beef dripping and garlic, yum. We had this with a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are sourced from Robertson and Bonnievale. Ilse doesn't like tropical flavours in Sauvignon Blanc and looks for nice clean pyrazine flavours like green peppers and herbal on the palate
Peter looking well satisfied (wel tevrede)
The food was being prepared in the kitchen behind that lit window
Ilse's husband opens the bubbly and has to cap it with his thumb as it tries to escape
Tastings poured, It is obviously very yeasty and bready and quite crisp and dry, with some light raspberry hints of the Pinot. When it settled it showed those buttery chardonnay characteristics
Twilight supper
The wine we really liked and ordered for supper was the Cinsault. It is jewel bright almandine garnet. At first dusty musty on the nose then boysenberries arrive, fruity sweetness the nose and ripe berries on the palate. It’s gentle and wild at the same time with some prune plum flavours on the end. So nice to see such a good expression of a much neglected grape. One to watch
The main course was served family style for us to help ourselves: Turkish Carrot humus with pickled carrot ribbons. Pepper and coriander seed encrusted ostrich steak with a Cinsault sauce wowed us, an olive, courgette and tomato frittata, tempura cauliflower, sirloin with chimichanga sauce, and rather dry chicken roulade stuffed with tomato, mozzarella and basil
Tired child, Loving, patient father
The chef Corlea comes to tell us about what she cooked for the event
Dessert was shortcrust pastry grape tarts on crème patissière, dark chocolate truffles flavoured with the Shiraz and white condensed milk chocolate truffles flavoured with the MCC. We are so glad we went, we feel we have made friends with someone who is passionate about her wine and a family that loves good food
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2017
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