PORT Elizabeth wine lovers let their hair down for a fun night of fine wine and dining at the Weekend Post’s inaugural Wine & Dine evening last weekend.
The food and wine pairing, held at The Granary in Stanley Street in collaboration with Meridian Wine Merchants and Flava, saw cellarmaster Eugene van Zyl visit the Bay to share wines from Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards, a brand he has been involved in since its launch by the Koegelenberg family of La Motte fame 10 years ago.
Besides sumptuous samples of chef John Burger’s inspired creations, carefully paired with the best from Leopard’s Leap, the event also included entertainment by Bay singer Claire Venn, lucky draws and a silent auction in which cool items were quickly snapped up in aid of The Herald Christmas Cheer Fund.
These included a collectible surfboard signed by Jordy Smith, a flight around the city with Stu Davidson in his Russian-built Yak 52 and a weekend for two at the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore.
A Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot magnum signed by Eugene, a box-framed EP Kings rugby jersey signed by the team and dinner for six to be cooked at the winning bidder’s home by chef John were also auctioned, raising a total of R19500 for Christmas Cheer.
Wine & Dine was attended by more than 120 guests who snapped up all the tickets in just two days.
Eugene was introduced by Meridian Wines’ Olgoa Hafner and then took everyone through the phenomenal growth of the Leopard’s Leap brand, which started with 7000 cases per year but is now producing 1.5 million cases and selling in 42 countries.
“The important thing we always strive for is to balance the high volumes with quality in every bottle,” he said. “Leopard’s Leap wines are easy-drinking wines that appeal to palates across the globe.”
A percentage from the sale of every bottle also goes towards a project to conserve the endangered Cape mountain leopard in the Cedarberg mountains.
Guests pounced on their tasting portions of warthog carpaccio on a bed of rocket with a citrus mustard drizzle, red pepper pesto and roasted sesame seeds, paired with the Leopard’s Leap Lookout Pinotage Rosé which several at my table said was one of their favourite wines of the night.
Each course included two tasting- size options. Our second mini starter was salmon fish cakes with pepper-buttered asparagus and saffron alioli, teamed with an unwooded Chardonnay made from grapes harvested in the Robertson area.
For mains, John made a tasting portion of pesto dukkah rare steak on watercress with a balsamic orange glaze and topped with burnt orange zest.This was paired with the Leopard’s Leap Family Collection SMV (a Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Viognier blend). The thought from some was that while both fillet and wine were fantastic, the pairing did not necessarily elevate either.
Different story for the second main of vanilla Greek lamb with garden fresh sambals and guacamole topped with strawberry – this time paired with Merlot.
Eugene said this was the “pairing of the night” for him, with many diners agreeing it was “interesting”.
Dessert-wise there was dark chocolate and ginger bread-and- butter pudding with butterscotch sauce, teamed with a Cabernet Sauvignon, and chantilly Chardonnay and pomegranate sorbet with a semi-sweet white wine.
“The bread-and-butter pudding was delicious and a bold, imaginative pairing with the Cabernet which wouldn’t usually be an obvious choice for dessert,” said our Weekend Post wine columnist Sam Venter. “The dish wasn’t too sweet and its dark chocolate, ginger and butterscotch flavours stood up well to the red wine.”
The winner for Sam, though, was the pomegranate sorbet with the semi-sweet. “The wine wasn’t sticky sweet and its slightly tropical vibe was echoed in the fruit sorbet, with an interesting contrast of textures between silky wine and icy sorbet.”
Weekend Post will host more Wine & Dine events in collaboration with other chefs and wineries in future, so watch this page!