Paul Cluver’s 2011 chardonnay star of pairing evening

WINE for breakfast? If pioneering Elgin winemaker Paul Cluver is to be believed, his Gewürztraminer is the only wine to drink with your morning muesli.

It also made a great partner to executive chef Paul Bain’s orange-cured salmon at a Dine & Wine evening at Kipling’s Brasserie at The Boardwalk Hotel this week.

Paul Cluver marketing manager Jacqueline Harris shared Dr Cluver’s breakfast wine preference and other more serious insights into the estate’s wines as she led guests through the tasting alongside Bain’s four-course fine-dining menu.

She did qualify the “breakfast wine” reference for the fresh, flowery-spicy Gewürztraminer by noting that Cluver snr’s pre-dawn rising habits mean he’s put in a full day’s work by the time he tucks into his Bircher muesli (and possibly glass of wine) at 10am.

The chef’s take on gravadlax accompanied by paper-thin pickled cucumber and grilled apple mille-feuille, presented with geometric precision, perfectly mirrored the well-balanced sugar and acidity of the wine. Off-dry, complex and with a hint of sweetness, the wine would also complement Thai food.

The star of the show had to be the 2011 chardonnay paired with soft and creamy Brie seasoned with Japanese Togarashi spice, topped with Parma ham and plated with slivers of dried tomato, clear tomato jelly and micro-greens. The fine balance of smoky, salty, creamy, nutty and zesty in the food enhanced the burnt caramel nose and subtle citrus and vanilla flavours of this stand-out chardonnay.

The guests were then the first in South Africa to be formally introduced to the 2011 Pinot Noir, accompanied by tender slow-roasted rib-eye of beef. Garnet-coloured, the wine had the typical savoury Pinot Noir flavours but would benefit from maturing a little longer. An inspired pairing of chocolate fondant, frozen pannacotta and salted caramel ice-cream with the Close Encounter Riesling rounded off the evening, returning to the theme of balancing salty and sweet tastes.

These wines easily demonstrated why Paul Cluver regularly tops local and international awards. The wine trophies are complemented by a host of accolades for ethical and eco-conscious farming practices. Cluver is a founding signatory of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, a mark of sound conservation practices, and half the farm is set aside for conservation in perpetuity.

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