“Welcome,” says Eduan, offering me a tall glass of something purple and sparkling! I is the Stellenbosch Vineyards Four Secrets Sparkling Shiraz, refreshing and delicious with a hint of oak. And this is one of the four secrets, as it is a blend of vintages with some barrel age to give it texture and weight.
I am here at Vareli on a hot summer night very far in the Upper West side. Cool looking people are eating al fresco things that look quite delicious, and they taste delicious once this food and wine pairing dinner partly orchestrated by sommelier Richard Bill gets rocking.
Stellenbosch is one of S. Africa’s top wine producers, with core brands including the flagship Credo Range, the lifestyle brand Arniston Bay, and the traditional estate-style Welmoed as well as the unconventional Versus range.
The sparkling Shiraz was picked ripe, cold soaked for three days prior to fermentation in stainless steel tanks for ten days, and cold soaked for three days post maceration. Aged in 300 liter barrels (half first and second fill).
The Stellenbosch Heyden’s White Blend 2013 is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Verdelho, and Gewurztraminer, a very fresh, somewhat floral wine that paired well with the carrot and cherry salad. The fruit Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurtztraminer was fermented in stainless steel tanks while the chardonnay and viognier were fermented separately in second and third fill oak barrels and kept on primary fermentation lees for a year with battonage.
Grilled Octopus accompanied the Welmoed Chenin Blanc, a classic of S. Africa. Grapes were sourced from Stellenbosch’s hillsides, cold settled, and fermented in stainless steel at 13 – 15 C.
A delicious monk fish tagine was served with Stellenbosch Vineyards Bushvine Pinotage 2012, a very rich, elegant wine with a spicy aromatic nose of black and read berries. The fruit comes from the Helderberg region, hand picked, whole bunch crushed, followed by fermentation in open fermenters with natural yeast, than barrel aged for 24 months in French oak barrels.
The main course, Grilled Pork Loin, was served with two excellent wines: the Heyden’s Red Blend 2011 (Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot) with grapes sourced from selected vineyard blocks in the Stellenbosch region. Each varietal was handled on its own, fermented on its skin for 12 days, cold soaked for three days prior to fermentation, with MLF in selected oak French barrels ranging from first to third fill, then matured for 18 months. A very tasty wine that really suited the couse.
The second wine was Credo Shiraz/Viognier 2010, sourced from fruit in the Helderberg area, fermented in stainless steel for ten days, then after a three day post maceration cold soak, the wine was aged in 300 liter French oak barrels for 26 months (8-% first fill). Delicious spice with intense berry fruit and hints of licorice.