Sunday, November 15, 2009

South African Wine Safari

Salud, salute, jabula! Jabula? Winewomen chorused the Zulu word for rejoice at our South African wine tasting safari this week as Jeremy Wilkinson of 4WinesPlusMore gave us a tour of his native land's wine country.

We were blessed by another splendid desert evening, this time at Miramonte's outdoor piazza with roaring fireplace to keep us warm. Chef Robert Nyerick prepared five separate appetizers paired to each wine, all hits.

Jeremy started us off with Cape Rock 2007 Sauvignon Blanc from the inland Robertson appellation. Refreshing and racy, we enjoyed its lime and grassy flavors with herbed goat cheese crostini.

Next came Chef's shrimp and salmon mousse brochette with a Western Cape 2008 Chardonnay from Heron's Nest. With only a gentle touch of oak, the food-friendly white showed fresh fruit flavors and medium body. Some of us caught a whiff of Riesling-like petrol, for even more interest.

Chef called the next pairing a no-brainer – we suppose so, if you're a chef. To us it was perfection: duck breast with raspberry and fig reduction served with Clos Malverne 2007 Reserve Pinotage. A cross between the Pinot Noir grape and Cinsaut, Pinotage is a South African original with flavors and aromas all its own. We enjoyed this Stellenbosch gold-medalist's lovely color, earthy fruit and soft tannins.

Also from the Stellenbosch appellation, Wolverine Creek 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon proved a treat. Flavors of blackberry fruit gave way to a long, minerally finish. Each bottle is numbered – how special is that?

For a finale, bites of pumpkin-spiced cheesecake arrived with Cape Rock 2007 Special Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. Ladies deep-sniffed its rosy perfume and savored its honeyed spice flavors. We spotted dessert wine converts among men and women alike.

By evening's end, Jeremy's sign-up sheet was filling up with wine orders and contacts of those interested in joining him on a South African wine tour. Thanks to 4WinesPlusMore for a guided wine tasting of this exotic quintet. Who knew a geography lesson could be this much fun? And thanks to all of you who will remember those served by Martha's Village and Kitchen this season. Jabula!

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