Cape Coastal Luncheon at the Hart House – 2011 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

There are times when the disparate can come together to form something that is much better than one might expect, even to the point of surprise. Like this post, finally being able sit down and write it in the midst of an eighth birthday party at my house. To this point, my experience at the Cape Coastal Luncheon was a great example of the unexpected coming together to make something great. Specifically, value wines paired with great food that enhanced each sample.

My experience with the wines of South Africa prior to this had centered around the ubiquitous Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, with mixed results. I had one Pinotage at the bloggers conference last year that had notes of bacon and espresso (a breakfast wine I thought). Right from arrival at the Hart House, this tasting was something different.

We were handed a glass of Graham Beck Brut and this menu:

The Brut is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and the light mineral on the palate and earthy finish were superbly paired with the trio of appetizers, in particularly the beets. While we enjoyed this, Chris the representative from the Beck winery told us a bit about the life of Graham Beck – certainly worthy of a biography by the sounds of it.

The second course brought the 2009 Nederburg Manor House Sauvignon Blanc and the 2009 KWV Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay. The Sauv Blanc had asparagus and pepper on the nose with a nice apple and green pepper that met the crispy chilies and the radish really nicely. The chardonnay on the other hand was a classic nutty honey vanilla nose with a toasty palate and bit of a hot finish. It picked up the swordfish nicely, but I gave the nod to the Sauv Blanc.

The next course brought us to red with a pair of Cabernet Sauvignons. Both cabs were very smoky on the nose, with the 2008 Durbanville Hills having some plum and green pepper that really reminded me of a number of the BC cabs I have had. The 2009 Graham Beck Game Keeper Reserve was my pick of the two, as it had a nice meaty palate with well balance oaked that paired with the gamey flavor of the rabbit. Delicious.

Course three, brought Bordeaux blends and included my favorite wine of the day. The 2009 Boekenhoutskloof Chocolate Block is very visible in this market and at $44.99 was the most expensive wine on the menu. It has a nice nose of coffee, chocolate and mint with a more coffee, plum and cherry and a tight tannic finish. It was a nice pairing, but the 2006 Glen Carlou Classique truly outshone at less than half the price. The nose was bright cherry with spice, graphite and vanilla and the palate was full of juicy clean red currant and cherry. The finish had some nice tannins and bit of tobacco. The clarity of the fruit was a beautiful pairing with the boar and also with the earthy celery root puree.

Dessert was delicious, and paired with Amarula Liqueur, however I was happy to continue on sipping the Glen Carlou. As stated, this was a chance for South African Wines to show some new directions and come together with the Hart House’s food to make for a great afternoon. Kudos go to the Hart House and the South African Wine representatives for the excellent service and exceptional attention in pairing the wine and food.

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