Last weekend the Atlantic Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers held their Gala dinner and featured wines from South Africa. I have a confession to make. Normally I don’t walk by the South African section of the wine store, I run past it. Some of my experiences have been less than palate friendly, and because of that I had a tendency to shy away from this section.
This is Alba, from South Africa, and she brought some wonderful wines to this dinner. I was so impressed with her passion and her knowledge on the topic of wine from this country. One of the things I found very interesting is that South Africa has been making wine for about 500 years, but has only been exporting it less than 30 years.
For the reception, we had the Graham Beck Gorgeous Pinot Noir Chardonnay and I think Gorgeous is the perfect word to describe this fun rose wine. It’s a beautiful combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, had a great acidity and was easy to drink. The flavors of orange blossom really stood out for me, and this was a great wine to start the evening.
Also speaking was Will Predhomme from Ontario. This guy knows his wine. Will holds the Advanced certificate through the Court of Master Sommelier, is an educator at the University of Guelph and is making his own wine under the North Shore Project label in Ontario, as well as Pearce Predhomme Wines in Oregon. Impressive!
For the first course we had a charcuterie board with an amazing mustard, and this was paired with the 2015 Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc. This was a fantastic expression of a Sauvignon Blanc, and my friend Rayell’s favorite wine of the evening. It was very similar to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that has mineral flavors and notes of grapefruit. Personally I also picked up really subtle tropical fruit flavors that made the wine for me. This was a great wine with the charcuterie board and a great appetizer wine over all.
The wine served with the salad was my absolute favorite wine of the evening, and I can honestly say I knew very little about the grape before this evening. It is the Cederberg Bukkettraube and it sells here for just $20 a bottle. I loved this white wine. Apparently it is a rare cultivator with only 77 hectares left in the world. It was truly an explosion of flavor on the palate, but extremely delicate at the same time. This would be a great wine with spicy food as well. Alba was telling us this wine would go great with Thai food, other spicy curry dishes, and I believe her. This wine had great acidity, and at the same time it was very smooth and lots of gentle apricot flavors. This will be a staple in my wine rack this summer.
For the delicious main course, they served a beef shortrib & duck leg confit samosa. Now, although the samosa wasn’t my favorite, the beef shortribs were spectacular. And served with this hearty beef dish was my favorite Pinotage wine, Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage. The unique label features a remarkable drawing of the winemakers canine companion, who happened to be named Diesel. If you have had a ‘manipulated’ Pinotage in the past, and didn’t like it, (I didn’t either), try this. It is not manipulated, it is Pinotage done right. Rich dark cherry flavors with distinctive oak flavors, this Pinotage saw 21 months in new French oak barrels. Not surprising the oak plays a big part in the flavors of this wine. This wine is very well structured and can tackle any meat you serve with it.
I had a great time connecting with people that I took my Sommelier courses with, and people I haven’t seen in a while. It was a fantastic time with fantastic people.
I hope you give these wonderful South African wines a try, they may surprise you as much as they surprised me.
Till next week, Cheers