A SENSORY FOOD-AND-WINE UNION AT HAZENDAL
At Hazendal in the Bottelary Hills curve of the Stellenbosch winelands, there are endless entertainment options, from art and classic cars to the Wonderdal Edutainment Centre for Children, and coming soon, a golf course and Manor House boutique guesthouse. The culinary options range from the Russian tea room to the Babushka Deli and picnics, and Pivnushka Beer Garden, there is always something new and innovative…but this time more sensory than before.
There is no doubt that in these challenging times discerning epicureans are still seeking the refinement and quality of fine dining, but in a more casual manner. Executive chef Michélle Theron and winemaker Clarise Sciocatti-Langeveldt have merged their talents to conjure up a memorably gastronomic food-and-wine pairing in the opulent Wine Library. In these tricky times, they have perfected the reduction of hands-on service, yet have not sacrificed the personal touch.
A group of media gathered in the gracious Homestead for a glass of their Méthode Cap Classique and canapés before Simone Voloshin welcomed us. GM Willem van der Merwe gave us a guided tour and divulged the past and future of this estate, dating back to 1699. We were then led down into the impressive Wine Library to take our seats, distanced, around the horseshoe-shaped bar. An eye-catching tower of layered glasses, each containing a mouthwatering mini-dish, with six wine glasses, created an infectious air of anticipation.
PETITE PORTIONS, GRANDE FLAVOURS
Clarise outlined her minimal-intervention cellar ethos for both the flagship Hazendal range and the Christoffel Hazenwinkel trio. Each petite portion was perfectly designed to complement the wines, showcasing chef Michélle’s true talent for producing carefully-considered, multi-dimensional flavours. First bite was a corn blini and mango salsa with a poached prawn, served with their Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2018, a classic Burgundy-style wine. The Hazendal Roussanne 2018 matched idyllically with a delicate dish of Bresaola and grilled asparagus with onion marmalade. The creamy notes of their Chardonnay teamed up with a savoury calamata-olive madeleine. The success of their 100% Syrah, soft and subtle, served with pickled ox tongue, black pepper and roast pear, horseradish and rocket, can be attributed in part to the Bottelary region being 3 to 4°C cooler than the rest of Stellenbosch. We were asked to choose our favourite pairing…and mine was the second layer of my glass tower – the snoek bon-bon and chutney jelly paired with the Hazendal Chenin Blanc 2017 – the spicy notes of the dish and the apricot and honey tones of the wine were ideal companions.
OLÉ, FIESTA TIME
A tasting of their Carignan 2017, bottled as a single cultivar and yielding only 500 bottles (@R1200 a bottle), elicited oohs and aahs from an appreciative audience (mine the loudest). I did, momentarily, consider buying myself a birthday present and having a fiesta. Suited to dry areas, it was during the drought that Clarise planted this cultivar. Well-known in Spain, it is scarce in SA. She took delight in telling us that the eye-catching label was inspired by a lady in a red flamenco dress (with red lips), paying tribute to Spain. All their bottles are unique in shape, classy, imported from Italy.
Our last bite in the two-hour tasting shared with delightful company was a delectable 70% chocolate gateaux with espresso and caramel sable and chocolate opaline, with the subtle flavours of their 2017 Pinotage. It was served in a striking black ceramic pot, locally designed. The contents? Heavenly. As Anja du Plessis, marketing and PR manager, fared us well, she reminded us that ‘There is always something more at Hazendal.’ There are many reasons for a return visit. Anyone for a four-ball?
The Wine Library tour and tasting, duration two hours, for max 20 guests, can be booked for 6 April onwards, at R680 per person.