Thursday, November 09, 2017

Lunch at Buitenverwachting with Lars Maack and the new vintage wines

We know that it is a great privilege indeed to be able to do what we do. This would not be possible without invitations from the industry in which we work and we do appreciate it. So it was great to have lunch this week in the newly refurbished restaurant on the farm with GM Lars Maack, Sandy Bailey who looks after PR for the farm, and one other member of the media, journalist Graham Howe
There was a huge early winter storm in the Cape while we were travelling in Europe in May and during that storm the roof of Buitenverwachting's restaurant blew off. (We were following it on the Net from our laptops as we travelled) This has been replaced and necessitated a refurbishment of the venue. And what an impressive job they have done, with such smart design. The windows look larger and wider, the restaurant is lighter and fresher, the wood that has been used everywhere is so natural and modern and green
At one end of the restaurant they have built a small Vinoteque where you can taste older vintages of their wines. The design is very clever, as the slope of the shelves keeps the wine in the correct position with their corks down, and those facia boards are actually drawers containing more wine. We began with a glass of Buitenverwachting MCC Brut
The Wine library list
The wine lounge is comfortable for a relaxed tasting, reminding Lynne of some London Wine Bars. A comfotable place to relax with friends
The floor to ceiling windows let in so much more light, and the beautiful view of the vineyards and the mountain
We sat at a corner table and tasted some of the library wines
We began with the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc. R100 from the farm. An elegant nose with all the expected flavours of Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, quince and elderflower and a little green pepper, it is crisp, long and delicious, a food and quaffing wine. Marketed as Bayten in the USA at $19 a bottle, this sells very well in the USA, where they cannot pronounce Buitenverwachting. We followed with the Hussey’s Vlei Sauvignon Blanc, bottled just two weeks ago. Still shy on the nose, with hints of Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, clean crisp with limes, figs and green peppers, and a touch of salt, this has always been one of our favourite wines from Constantia. R120 a bottle. They use a combination of different yeasts to ferment the sugar, not to add flavour, and no acid is added to the wines as the grapes have their own fresh acidity
There are three menus to choose from. This is the Rustic Affairs menu
The Indulge Menu
And the Fine Bites menu with the suggested wine pairings
We ordered and continued to taste the wines while we waited for the first course
Time to taste the Maximus 2014. First made in 2009, this Blanc Fumé Sauvignon is so classy. Dusty on the nose with a whiff of smoke, with melons and quinces on the palate, full and integrated with the wood, this is a good food wine with some essential maturity. Lars then told us that they have now planted 10 hectares of Chenin in what looks like a first for Constantia; we await the resulting wine with excitement, especially given the global warming we experiencing. We should mention that Buitenverwachting have 8 4½ star wines in this year’s Platter Guide

The red wine served was the Meifort 2016. This wine sells for R80 from the farm and the 2015 was awarded the Trophy for the best red wine at the 2017 Old Mutual Trophy competition 
Time for the first courses. This is Vegetable garden Amuse Bouche from the Fine Bites menu which the others were having
Sandy is a vegetarian, so this was her amuse Bouche of raw and pickled vegetables
 And her first course of a sweet corn inspired dish
We had just ordered two courses each from the other menus, as we did not want to eat so many courses. So then Edgar sent us a small amuse of belly of pork on rye bread with red cabbage and cumin and horseradish, a good dish and a good wine pairing dish
A mini variation of the Caesar Salad, the first course from the Fine Bites menu
The large Caesar Salad we ordered from the Indulge menu was light and superb The seared Norwegian salmon was crisp and golden on the outside but still pink, moist and flaky in the centre, the bacon very crisp, and the small quail’s eggs bursting with runny yolk, crisp croutons and a good anchovy sauce and quarters of Cos lettuce. Not sure why there was a dollop of whipped cream on the plate though? We had this paired with a six year old Hussey’s Vlei Sauvignon Blanc, which is still fresh and lively and elegant, with limes, green peppers and elderflower. Not showing its age at all, just its quality
Raw tartare, marinated and seared tuna, in a 'spring roll', guacamole, pan fried baby gem lettuce and citrus dressing
2nd course on the Fine Bites menu, Carpaccio of Thai marinated ostrich eye fillet, with yum salad, black garlic and sesame
An amuse of Shallot and Madumbe crema soup with a dusting of truffle. Madumbe is an indigenous starchy root vegetable, resembling potato
Third course on Fine Bites, Grilled Angel Fish topped with Seafood, with potatoes in caldeirade sauce, with chermoula
We all had the Lime Vodka and Chilli sorbet as a palate refresher
Lynne's main course of confit duck leg with a lovely tender still pink seared breast, on a base of red cabbage, so traditional and so right and a potato puff, an a l'orange sauce and gingered carrots croquette. We had the 2005 Meifort and the 2012 Christine with the Main course. The Meifort, last year's Top red wine in the Old Mutual Trophy, is elegant on the nose, with light wood notes, and completely cassis driven. The Christine has Incense wood, richness of cherries and cassis on the nose, this year is so special, with great elegance, silky soft on the palate with cherries and red berries, some nice chalky tannins and a little warmth on the end
 The main course on the Fine Bites menu of Pan Fried Springbok Cutlet with grilled loin, a Port wine sauce leek-pommes macaire, fresh broad beans and creamy Puy lentils with a grape & apple chutney.
Dessert for four of the party was the Chocolate Variation for the serious chocoholic. A small perfect chocolate fondant, caramel ice cream in a chocolate cone, a gianduja phyllo parcel, chocolate grand piano with crocante parfait, white chocolate mousse in baumkuchen and a orange parfait in milk chocolate ring. Oh and fresh strawberries and sauce. This was served with Buitenverwachting's Noble Late Harvest 1769, the Trophy winner in 2014. Rose, mango, lime and honey on the nose and palate, made from Muscat de Frontignan in a vineyard planted in 2007. Not oversweet, (R/s 135 g/l) with good acid balance and a nice dry end. Lynne was the only one to pass on dessert but we did follow this with very good coffees in the new Coffee bar which was the old tasting room. What a marvellous meal with really great wines. Book soon
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