Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"The Perfect Blend has been Chosen" at the Blaauwklippen Blending Competition

This fun annual competition, open to all South African wine clubs, announced the winners at a lunch held on the farm last Friday. We met the four teams in the final, three from the Western Province and one from Gauteng, aptly named the Outlanders. We had a great lunch and we tasted the winning wine, which Blaauwklippen thinks is good enough to warrant putting on their Cabriolet label this year
The oaks are just opening their leaves on this Stellenbosch farm
Something to welcome us with: a glass of the Diva MCC made from Zinfandel
Lots of new faces as the guests were mainly the entrants, a small contingent of media and some of the important farm workers who put the blend together and bottle it
Canapés were served on arrival and they were so good that we risked filling up before lunch. This was salmon tartare topped with a quail’s egg
These were the sensation of the day. How else would you present a Caprese salad but in a crisp sweet biscuit dough with pepper cone? No one could get enough of them
Tiny porcini mushroom, blue cheese and pine nut filo parcels
And the Springbok bitterballen also earned loud applause
Clive Torr CWM with Rolf Zeitvogel, MD and cellar master at Blaauwklippen
Time to take our seats at the very long table
And on the table were the magnums of the winning wine. Were they not giving the game away early? No, these special bottles had no back label, so we couldn't guess the blend or the winners
Rolf tells us about the competition this year. 84 wine clubs entered in this, the 34th year of the competition. “We challenged the clubs to produce a serious, well-structured red blend, with ageing potential, consisting of Zinfandel 2016, Cabernet Franc 2016, Merlot 2016, Petit Verdot 2016 and Shiraz 2016”, explained Rolf. “Each year we are surprised by the popularity of this battle we created for amateur wine tasters and lovers and this year was no exception, with a rise of 16% in entries!” says Zeitvogel. “This is proof that we have a winning recipe, the true art of tasting and blending wines, sharing it with local and international amateur wine lovers and, in the process, educating while everyone is having fun.”
Judges for this year’s competition were Blaauwklippen's winemaker, Narina Cloete, Mark Norrish of Ultra Wines, Clive Torr CWM, Ligia de Coito of the Wine Desk, Broadcaster Guy McDonald and Karen Glanfield, owner KGB Wine
Lunch began with a glass of the White Zinfandel, which has a nice rosy blush with lots of strawberries and a touch of smoke
This was served with a rich Prawn Bisque with coconut and green chilli, a plain cream bavarois, a scallop and two grilled prawns and some large coriander oil and garlic croutons - rather rusk like. The wine was a very good match
Winemaker Narina Cloete told us that all five of the cultivars supplied to the clubs had to be used in the final blend. All the wines are marked for use in the Blaauwklippen Vineyard Selection range. The Zinfandel was limited to a maximum of 10% of the blends, while the Cabernet Franc was limited to not more than 40% of the total blend. They were asked to create the new Cabriolet flagship wine to drink now and it had to have a potential to age
Then it was time for the four finalist clubs to introduce themselves. First, Kelderhof Winos. It is the name of their estate in Somerset West, Western Cape. They told us that they had 3 pregnancies the week of the tastings, so only the men made the blend
Then the Wine Geeks: Elmarie is from Ida’s Valley, Hans is from Stuttgart (Western Cape entry)
Ruan of Business Time (Western Cape) won Best newcomer last year and was to marry Nanette, who is in charge of the competition, at Blaauwklippen the following day! All the samples are coded so everything is tasted blind, OK. She would not have known it was his entry
and finally Jaco of the Outlanders club in Gauteng
And then the winning wine is opened for us to taste. We were very impressed this year; to be frank, we haven't always been. With incense and vanilla wood, it has berries and whiffs of geraniums from the Zinfandel. On the palate, there are soft, sweet, chewy chalky tannins; it is full of ripe fruit, with hints of violet from the Petit Verdot and a zing from the Zinfandel. It is our Wine of the Week
 The main course was a roulade of beef filled with herb and bread stuffing, a rich and smooth spreadable duck liver mousse (thank heavens we still had some bread on our plates), roasted parsnips, polenta croquettes and three vegetable purées - carrot, beet and pea - with baby carrots
Carrot bottles decorated the plates
Chef told us about how she made the pairings and then introduced all the staff who had made the lunch possible - the waiting staff
who all received loud applause
The first award is for the best newcomer to the Competition and it went to the Kelderhof Winos
And then, keeping us guessing for a while as to what was the winning blend, Rolf announced that the winners of the competition were also the Kelderhof Winos. As the winning wine club, Kelderhof Winos wins various prizes which include wine, as well as glassware from Vitria
The Trophy
Time for dessert. And we moved into the next door room where there were tables filled with these delights. Raspberry mousse cheesecakes
Tiny apple tarts
Passion fruit mousse cheesecakes
Chocolate bombs, very rich and good
And some Blaauwklippen Brandy and the sweet fortified wine Before and After
The Blaauwklippen team and the Gauteng visitors with the engaged pair who will get married the next day
Goats on the farm
Lots of new kids
Beautiful Blaauwklippen manor house in the late afternoon sun

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