Saturday, April 07, 2018

Druk My Niet wine estate in Paarl rises from the ashes

The historic wine estate was hit by a devastating bush fire last year. It destroyed the historic farmhouse which was built in about 1700. The owners, Georg and Dorothee Kirchner and Jens-Peter Stein, had lovingly restored it over 6 years. They also lost guest cottages, their wine tank cellar and other outbuildings and all their possessions
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Image © Justin Sullivan
They have now rebuilt the essentials - not the historic farmhouse - and we were invited with other media representatives to visit this week to see the new buildings, taste some wines, old and new, and have lunch with the owners
The tasting and lunch were held in one of the buildings which had survived the fire
Tables laid for the tasting while we all catch up with each other
Winemaker/viticulturist Alexandra McFarlane, PRO Pippa Pringle and owner Dorothee Kirchner
Some of the wines we were to taste
Luckily the barrel cellar, which was separate, was not destroyed, so they did not lose all their wine. It seems the aircon unit did not stop working and kept the barrels cool enough to survive
The tank cellar had to be completely rebuilt - the previous tanks had bubbled and melted in areas. However they can now make more wine, as they were able to enlarge the cellar
Food was being prepared in the Vinoteque by the staff of Olivier Jaggi, the Swiss chef/patron of Terra Mare restaurant in Paarl, who is a personal friend of the owners
Prink prawns
Tuna fillet coated in sesame seeds and waiting to be seared
Dorothee welcomes us ...
...  and Alexandra begins telling us about the wines we were tasting. T3 is their signature blend made of three Iberian grape varieties
First we tasted three vintages of T3: 2011, 2012 and 2013. The best was the first one, showing richness, dark berries with a hint of wood, silky and full of red and black fruit, good grape acidity, and long flavours of mulberries and cherries showing the Iberian parentage. And then 2018 samples of the wines, made from the three component grapes
  All the wines are made in second fill oak
The 2018 Tinta Amarela, a Portuguese varietal also known as Trincadeira, has raisins and sultana, watermelon jam on the nose. Soft sweet and light fruit, it is almost Pinot in character with sweeter berries cherries and plums on the palate.  The 2018 Tempranillo (aka Tinta Roriz) is rich and musty with sesame notes; it is young. Mouth puckering, chalky tannins typical of this grape, dark deep red berries, burnt caramel, mulberries and dark red plums and a little cassis. It spends 5 weeks on the skins. This is the backbone of the blend
We were surprised to see Tannat (2018) vinified separately, this dark, black, opaque wine is often used for colour. It has wildness on the nose and was a bit fizzy on the palate, perhaps from the added acid which Alex told us they need to use in this hot area. Dark and mysterious flavours, with salty licorice, black berries, blackcurrants and black cherries. MUCH better than expected.  She makes only one barrel from each of these grapes, and a tank of the blend
Georg, Alex and Dorothee.  If you are wondering what the name of the farm means, it is Don’t squeeze (or push) me.  Apparently, originally a gift to the bridegroom in about 1700 from his new father in law!  Dorothee told Lynne that there was one advantage that came out of the fire. When they rebuilt they were able to change many of the things that they had wanted to change on the farm; things that you notice after several years, that would be good to improve
The lunch menu
Before lunch, we did a small cellar tour with a glass of their C68 Chenin Blanc in our hands.  It is wooded and complex, showing some age and lots of rich golden fruit flavours. Very enjoyable, especially with the Trio of Tuna
One person at the table could not eat fish and he had a Carpaccio of beef instead
The C68 Chenin
Next we tasted the Kastenmeier’s Rosé, which is a whole bunch press of Merlot. Lovely, pale and light.  Served with a very good Brandy seafood bisque - many of us had two servings, it was so full of dark caramel and deliciousness
Chef Olivier Jaggi from Terra Mare restaurant in Paarl
The next course was the prawns with very spicy chorizo sausage. This rather overwhelmed the prawns and nearly the wine...
... which was the 2013 Malbec; it has violets, savoury, deep, dark fruit aromas and flavours; very enjoyable
 The main course was Kudu Fillet on cous cous and a dark caramel sauce, slightly bitter. with al dente carrots, mange tout and patty pan squash. Paired with the 2012 T3 which is very aromatic and shows cherries and violets
We then were served dessert, which was a rich, creamy and light mousse au chocolat, just the way it should be, with a tiny cup of crème brulée with fresh mango and raspberries
This was served with the honey sweet 2015 Puella Straw Wine, a great match 
We also tasted the 2014 Mirus Syrah. Incense wood and coffee on the rose with some spice, rich flavours of dark berries and licorice with chalky grippy tannins, spice and wood on the end. This was served with a cheese board which, sadly, we did not have time to taste as our transport was ready to take us back to Cape Town. A pity
Thank you all at Druk my Niet for a very enjoyable tasting and lunch
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