I love rainy winter afternoons.
I love the way the wind howls, the way we perch our elbows on wooden tables and the way we have to listen a little harder to engage in the salt of our conversations. I love the wines and people we share them with.
One rainy winter afternoon, I had both - great wines and someone phenomenal to share them with. The Fleur du Cap Salt and Wine pairing at Die Bergkelder is a, um, ‘sweet’ way to spend a Friday afternoon with a loved one.
Die Bergkelder is a magnificent institution in and of itself. The museum shares the story of the history of the Viticulture in South Africa in a way that makes the journey as interesting as the destination.
With stories that begin as deliciously as, “today, praise be to God, wine was made for the first time from Cape grapes” (Jan van Riebeek’s journal, 1959), who could not be enamoured.
These ‘flowers’ of the Cape are wines that have almost as much personality as their characterful surroundings. The daily savory pairings at Die Bergkelder have been paired with five phenomenal Fleur du Cap wines (including one award-winning Classic Wine - so yay!).
My grandmother told me that “it was really lovely,” and here’s why:
1. The first flight was a glass of Fleur du Cap Sauvignon Blanc (2013, Bergkelder, Stellenbosch) paired with Pakistani
sulphuric salt and dolmades made with wild rice. The salt tastes a bit like hard boiled egg, and it truly brings out the Sauvignon Blanc’s granadilla, guava and asparagus notes.
The Sauvignon Blanc is slightly white in colour, high in acidity and low in sugar. The partnership between the sulphuric salt and the grapes’ natural flavours provide a lovely opportunity for the wine to infuse with the food.
2. The second flight of wine, The Unfiltered Fleur du Cap Bergkelder Chardonnay (2013) is made from grapes that are grown in Malmesbury. The Chardonnay is a beautiful straw-like colour, which is a beautifully stark contrast to the green olive pesto to the Black Lava Salt from the lava pools of Hawaii that it is paired with.
My granny’s exact words were “it’s nice.”
3. The third wine in the tasting experience is the robust Unfiltered Bergkelder Fleur du Cap Merlot (2011). The wine needs no introduction, we’ve already done cartwheels for it here - I’m a big, big fan.
But the question is ‘how Merlot can you go’? The Merlot apparently creates a sublime pairing with flavoursome prosciutto, but we tasted it with chicken liver pâté with caramelised Onions and Murray River salt. Australian Pink salt paradise, you guys.
4. The succeeding taste experience was The Bergkelder Fleur du Cap (2012) Pinotage. This wasn’t an official part of the tasting, so it had no pairing accompaniment. There was a guest who was in Die Bergkelder to purchase a case of the Pinotage, and invited us to to taste it with him.
Our tasting host told us that if she had a friend who doesn’t like red wine, she would introduce him/her to the Pinotage first. It has no intense pull around the mouth (they call these tannins) and has less of a dry palette than many other varietals. You can pair it with fish, steak, or any food because it doesn’t have very over-powering flavours. It’s also a spectacular easy-drinking wine.
The loveliest thing about the salt and wine pairing is that you learn about how wine shouldn’t overpower food - and food shouldn’t overwhelm wine. A great pairing is a partnership, you truly want the two to complement each other.
5. This made a lot of sense when we tasted Die Bergkelder Fleur du Cap Cabernet Sauvignon (2011). This wine has more sugar per gram than the Pinotage, boasts fuller aromas and more evident tannins.
The wine is clear in colour, when you look at it from the top and smells a bit like brandy. This lovely red wine is paired with full flavoured sun dried tomatoes and six month matured Gouda cheese and Khoisan salt.
When you think about it, in lay terms, the ‘apricot’ Brandy smells and sundried tomatoes are a logical match-made in tastebud heaven. It’s that simple.
6. The Platter 5-Star Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest (2011) was paired with delicious Maldon salted fudge.
This delicious dessert wine also received 4 1/2 state in the Classic Wine Panel Report of the top six dessert wines (May 2014, Classic Wine Magazine).
For me, this pairing tastes like home. The wine tastes like my granny’s jam. This naturally produced sugar sweet wine is a lovely gold colour. Three quarters of Chenin Blanc, and a careful balance of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay produce a wine that has a sweet, but slightly tangy finish.
A delightful reminder to savour every delicious moment, and a wonderful reminder to come back for more.
[The Fleur du Cap Wine and Salt tastings are available on Mondays to Fridays between 09h00 and 17h30 and Saturdays between 09h00 and15h30, cost R75 per person.
For bookings, contact Nadia Ferreira on Tel: 021 809 8025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information visit fleurducap.tumblr.com or join the Fleur du Cap community Facebook or follow them on Twitter @FleurduCapWines ]