Leipzig Country House & Winery- Wine Sleepover

 

I asked a few of my friends if they knew where the Nuy valley was, the only answer I received were a few raised eyebrows and plenty blank stares. This beautiful valley can be found approximately 90 minutes from Cape Town, nestled snugly between Worcester and Robertson.

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Leipzig Country House & Winery is situated in the Nuy Valley at the foot of the Rabie Mountains. This was where I was heading, looking to take full advantage of their “Wine Sleepover” package  which consisted of a welcome drink on arrival, a five course dinner including wine pairing as well as accommodation for the evening, a lovely farmhouse breakfast and complimentary bottle of wine.

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Driving the short dusty road to Leipzig, it was not difficult to understand the love affair between the Smit family and their farm, which has been in the family for generations.  So much history is retained in oral tradition, passed on from one generation to the next and the history of this farm is just such a story.

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The farm encapsulates country living, with careful consideration given to retaining some the original rustic architecture, to give one an “old world” feel, but with the entire ambit of modern amenities one could want such as flat screen TV’s , air conditioning and complimentary wifi  (a necessity for so many of us).

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After taking in the breath-taking views of the countryside, majestic mountains and grape valleys, we freshened up and made our way to the reception area, which housed the original wine cellar, where we were greeted with friendly smiles as we enjoyed our welcome drinks. This historic building is beautifully adorned with fresco-art depicting the ancestry of the farm.

Not before long we were ushered into the beautifully decorated dining area, introduced to Alida Bester (the youngest daughter of Smit family) who now runs the farm with her husband Vian.

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  1. Our first course was a sweet melon gazpacho with toasted almonds paired with the Viognier 2015, fruity and floral tones of orange blossoms and apricots and just a hint of acidity. Loved this combination of fresh and fruity. It was a sensory delight.
  1. Our second course was Salmon Gravlax, baby beets and homemade crème fraiche paired with the Leipzig Sauvignon Blanc. Sublime!

  1. The third dish was the Chicken Ballotine with goat’s cheese and roasted pepper stuffing, butternut volute and honey roasted walnuts, this was served with White Leipzig, a modern incarnation of an award-winning wine with an interesting back story. Legend has it, that this wine was enjoyed so much by Queen Elizabeth (then Princess Elizabeth) that she ordered cases of this wine as she celebrated her 21st Birthday in Cape Town while visiting. A lovely wine made with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier

  1. Next was the generous portion of pork belly with smoked mashed potatoes, a lovely addition to this course, just slightly smoky but delicious. Served with green beans wilted spinach and a cider jus. Served with the Leipzig Grand Master 2015

  1. Finally we come to the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with a spicy strawberry jelly which was accompanied by the Pinotage 2014.

Each pairing was accompanied by a tale from the Cellar Manager Vian, either of the farm, its descendants, or the origin of the lovely wine we were consuming. Vian’s wife Alida, being the consummate hostess, mingled with the guests while topping up wine glasses.

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After dinner we made our way to the “Honesty Bar” which is a novel idea. Guests help themselves to the bar and jot down what they consume for their tab. A brave gesture, as memories do tend to fade as the night wears on.

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Leipzig and its surrounds have lots to offer the weary traveller in search of respite from the crazy city rush, unpretentious and ready to please. A lovely adaptation of modern country living, with an interesting history.

FULL ALBUM

contributed by Mario Arendse

Little Saint tasting evening with Richard Bosman Quality Cured Meats and Longridge Wine Estate

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Little Saint tasting evening with Richard Bosman Quality Cured Meats and Longridge Wine Estate

I rarely look up the establishments I frequent upfront, instead preferring to experience it first-hand and then to have a look at how these restaurants have chosen to describe themselves, I find it keeps everyone honest, and in this case I’m delighted to say it was spot on.

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2 Chefs, 10 courses perfectly paired with a range of Longridge’s finest.

The juxtaposition of Santi Louzan Fidalgo owner and Chef at Little Saint, classically trained in French cuisine vs Richard Bosman the self-proclaimed “cook” and arguably purveyor of perhaps the finest charcuterie in the country.

Each chef would prepare 5 dishes served in an enviable train of constant and seemingly unending deliciousness.

Course 1:

  • Canapés consisted on fresh and spicy tomato gazpacho and smoked white fish scoop with lime zest and chive paired with the MCC Brut Reserve 2009.
  • This was followed by the Cheeky oyster, fresh battered and served with guanciale paired with the MCC Brut Reserve 2009.

Course 2:

  • Then to one of my favourite combinations of the evening, ok I will admit I am slightly biased as I have a particular predilection for any variation of cured pork. 9 month cured Culatello, sometimes referred to as the “King of Cured Meats” similar in texture to prosciutto albeit a little dryer but similar in texture. Served with Fior di latte and black garlic. Served with the award-winning Longridge Organic Chardonnay 2014 which I really enjoyed.

  • Next was the apple, cucumber and prawn cocktail with chocolate mayonnaise. This was an interesting course, beautifully constructed. I was surprised at just how well this dish came together, this course was served with the Longridge Pinot Noir 2014

Course 3:

  • Smoked trout ribbons, beautifully presented, wrapped around Labnah and avocado with sun-dried salsa. This was accompanied with one of the many highlights for me the Clos du Ciel Chardonnay 2014, now I’m not a particular lover of this type of wine but my goodness was this fantastic. Made from vineyards planted some 20 years ago above Longridge in the Helderberg, citrusy and hardly any oak derived character even after being in French oak casks for 14 months. At Five hundred of your South African Rands, money very well spent if you ask me.

  • Beautiful and consistent presentation showed the mark of perfection in the next dish, it didn’t take too much of a stretch of the imagination to deduce which Chef produced this course. Potato cup, truffle cream, egg yolk, cucumber, basil and parsley oil with a crispy spring onion root. This course was paired with the  Ou Steen Chenin Blanc 2015

Course 4:

  • Gochujang a spicy and pungent Korean condiment made with red chillies rice and fermented soybeans apparently fermented for years, all I know is its was wonderful addition and enhancement to an all too familiar favourite. Our lamb chop was marinated in this lovely spicy paste with rosemary and garlic accompanied with cucumber and carrot pickle. The Bordeaux style Ekliptika was the wine of choice for this dish.

  • I loved the elegance and presentation of the next dish, an inspired variation of the old surf and turf that we grew up on when you just couldn’t decide if you wanted meat or fish. Pan-fried pork and Hake beetroot ashed Kohlrabi (a distant relative of our lowly cabbage) red radish, carrot puree, pea puree, black pudding jus and fennel oil topped with mustard seed caviar. Now reading this, I’m sure your thinking this surely could not have been on one plate. I assure you each component of this course was able to stand out in its own right without making the collective seem disjointed. Well constructed and well Executed, ably accompanied by the Longridge Pinotage.

Course 5:

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  • Our palate cleanser consisted of the mix berry and bubbles granita with Longridge Rose MCC NV, refreshing and slightly tart.

We were then invited to enjoy our plate cleansers, whilst the chef’s prepares for the finale, the Desset Course.

  • The Star du Spectacle was without a doubt the Mousse Mess. Gooseberries, Berry coulis, handmade chocolate, chocolate mousse, custard all made without the addition of refined sugar instead making use of honey, ginger crumble. True to its name, and what a glorious mess it was.

Eating is a sensory affair and Little Saint epitomizes this philosophy.  Isn’t this the entire objective of eating out after all? This has been so much more than a gastronomic affair and would serve as a worthy addition to any Bucket list. I will be back.

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For the Full Album, please click here.

Contributed by Mario Arendse

 

 

 

Glenwood Wine Farm – November 2016

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There is nothing more therapeutic than feasting on a breath-taking panoramic view of lush green mountain tops, with a chilled vino in hand and inviting warm hosts.  Glenwood Vineyards, a little gem found off the beaten track, 4km outside of Franschhoek encapsulates this perfectly.

Whether you are new-found lovebirds, married veterans or just a group of cyclists stopping by, there is no place best to enjoy the tranquil environment where vineyards and mouth-watering breakfast and light luncheons meet.

An unusual wine tour, which starts in the tasting room, thereafter being escorted into the vineyard  and ends in the cellar, where the history of the farm, its wine making and by humorous tales, is passionately described by one of only two female wine makers, in the Franschhoek catchment area, Zinaschke. Steyn.

She is expertly guided by her mentor DP Burger, the head wine maker.It was such a personal experience listening to the passion,drive and love for her craft and also for Glenwood.

Sauvignon Blanc, – Winemakers Comments A richly textured, well-balanced wine layered in classic notes of capsicum and passion fruit, with a fresh, zesty finish

Unoaked Chardonnay, – Winemakers Comments Intense layers of citrus with subtle notes of green apple on the after palate.

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Chardonnay Vigneron’s Selection, – Winemakers Comments Bold and powerful citrus burst, mouth-fillingly rich and creamy vanilla with beautifully integrated oak.

Merlot – Winemakers Comments Medium-bodied wine with layers of chocolate, plum and mulberry. Full and elegant, with a long conclusion.

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Shiraz – – Winemakers Comments An opulent, full-bodied wine with supple, vibrant fruit and tannins.

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A pleasant surprise where young wines on the wine tasting menu, Sauvignon Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay, Chardonnay Vigneron’s Selection, Merlot  and Shiraz is sure to be a hit for even the virgin palates.

One can honestly attest to the fact that these young wines can compete on the most opulent menus and therefore no surprise when heard that this boutique winery has risen above and won accolades of its own.

Notwithstanding the above, there are of course a wider variety of wines made on the farm and sold to the public.

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I highly recommend the cheese board thereafter which can only be described as simply delicious

This is also a great function venue, for weddings and family events, where you could dance the night away in the cellars.

Worth a visit and then some…

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Thank you to Bianco Burger for your first of many more contributions to JAR PHOTOGRAPHY

For the Full Album click HERE

 

 

A delicious pairing of Ernie Els Wines and Nobu

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I will concede I walked into the lobby of the Nobu with a preconceived notion of what it would be like. I was pleasantly surprised to find a warm, inviting and relaxed space, with a staff compliment just as warm and inviting.

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I don’t consider myself a Japanese food aficionado but like everyone else I have been to my fair share of Japanese establishments. Wait… no nori, no rice; nothing rolled, shaped and moulded on the menu was my retort. What followed though was a culinary journey bordering the sublime and a range of wines perfectly matched and complimentary.

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Louis Strydom (Winemaker and MD at Ernie Els Wines) struck a chord with his opening salvo when he said something to the effect that wine and enjoying wine is such a subjective thing and that you either like the taste or not, irrespective of the price tag. Feeling quietly vindicated I was ready to immerse myself into this experience.

The menu was indeed intriguing seeing as I had never been, we were anxious but still excited.

Menu

Arrival Drink

Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Tuna Hot Miso Tacos

 

Salmon Karashi Miso & Yellowtail Mango Salsa Duo

Ernie Els Chenin Blanc 2016

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Beef Tataki with Ponzu

Ernie Els Rose 2016

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Beef Fillet with Balsamic Teriyaki

Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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Pork Belly with Spicy Miso

Ernie Els Proprietors 2013

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Suntory Cappuccino

Ernie Els Big Easy Sweet Spot

***

If I had to be asked to describe the pairing for the first course, it would be “Fresh”.  Tuna Hot Miso Tacos paired with the Ernie Els Sauvignon Blanc, light and crisp slightly citrusy, cubed tuna in crispy taco shells.

Our second course was the Salmon Karashi miso mustard like condiment used in Japanese dishes) and Yellowtail Mango Salsa .This unassuming and seemingly simple dish served up one of the surprises of the evening. A delightful berry, no bigger in size than an olive and similar in look and texture called Yamamono (Japanese mountain peach). Slightly tart and sweet simultaneously, this little gem is often used as a palate cleanser and proved to be quite the topic Accompanied by the Ernie Els Chenin Blanc, a familiar easy drinking wine

The next course was the Beef Tataki with ponzu. Very delicately seared beef, cut into slivers similar to sashimi accompanied with ponzu which is a soya based sauce with slight citrusy undertones. To say this beef was soft and tender and literally would melt in your mouth is an understatement. The Ernie Els Rose 2016 was used as accompaniment, slightly sweet for my personal taste but ably managed to counter balance the soy/citrus ponzu.

What came next was the Beef fillet with the balsamic teriyaki. Any” Real” South African will find this dish hard to fault, well prepared beef with a full-bodied, bold Cabernet Sauvignon …all the essential food groups covered.

I unashamedly love pork belly to death, so it is with bated breath that I waited patiently for this course to arrive and boy was it worth the wait. Fulfilling all the essential requirements, a crispy rind with tender and soft flesh that dissipated as soon as it landed in your mouth, accompanied by the star of the show for me, the Ernie Els Proprietors Syrah. Masterfully made with only the best fruit, handpicked, as it should be.

The evening was closed off with a Suntory Cappuccino dessert, a delicate combination of cappuccino mousse and Suntory Whisky. Suntory, A Japanese brewing and distillery company established in 1899 one of the oldest in Japan. I attempted to illicit the recipe from the chef, but he responded with a toothy grin…I don’t think I’ll be getting it.

In conclusion, an amazing evening with even more amazing dishes. One would be hard –pressed to find fault, if only to make an excuse just to do it all over again.

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Blog post contribution by Mario Arendse.

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A delicious pairing of Ernie Els Wines and Nobu

For full Album click HERE