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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Rubrieke | Columns > Michael Olivier: Notes from my kitchen table

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Michael Olivier - 2007-02-12

Thought I’d use the old saying for what a bride should wear as the basis for my story to you this time.

Something old
Well not old really, but perhaps something a little forgotten? Wineries that have been around for a long time, making great wines consistently. Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch and Landskroon in Paarl are just two such places.

I was on Simonsig Estate recently, a bit of a reminisce as my wife, Maddy, worked there some thirty years ago. Johan and Francois Malan, owners of Simonsig, came through with some crackers last year: a Verdelho and their stunning Brut Rose.

The Verdelho is made from the eponymous Portuguese grape I tasted when it was still in the tank and it just screamed fish at me. A tranche of sea-fresh fish spattering in a pan of brown butter with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkling of sea salt flakes and a grind or two of pepper. Or perhaps some calamari tentacles flash-fried in a fruity olive oil like my favourites from Morgenster or Vesuvio. The Verdelho is a sparky wine with herbal lemony flavours made from the grape used by the Portuguese for Madeira and their wonderful vinho verdes. To my knowledge the only one in South Africa.

The Simonsig Brut Rose is made by the same Methode Cap Classique as her twin, Kaapse Vonkel. Simonsig was the first wine estate in the Cape to make this traditional champagne-style wine over 35 years ago. The Brut Rose is so elegantly packaged and the smells and tastes match up to the promise delivered in the first glance of the bottle. Ice-bucket cold we have had it with sushi, cold smoked chicken and turkey salads, and even strawberry shortbreads.

Paying respects to Hugo de Villiers on his farm Landskroon before he took off for his annual two weeks in Hermanus I was lucky to have more than a glass of wine with him and his daughter Huguette. Fortunately lunch was taken just outside the tasting room and I was able to nip in now and then for little tastes of all their wines. When tasting wines in the presence of the owner, I find that I get more out of the wine, as I am told about the vineyards and what they delivered into the cellar during the particular vintage. It was a particularly hot day and to sip the two Chenins, one dry and one off dry, and the off-dry Blanc de Noir, made from Pinotage, was to cool one down while one looked across to Table Mountain. As a farewell I had a glass of the Paul de Villiers Reserve, a changing blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot and Touriga Nacional – a Portuguese variety better known for Port, but offering its deep red colours and flavours. Stunner and well worth the detour to pop a bottle or two into your boot.

Something new
Stellar, one of my favourite wineries up the West coast and the world’s first Fairtrade accredited organic wine producer, released two fabulous Reserve wines. A Sauvignon Blanc with strong whiffs of green – dusty green fynbos and peppers and figs. Lovely tropical fruit in a mouthful of flavour. And a long aftertaste is, for me, always a sign of an excellent wine. The Chardonnay’s nose is rich with smells of fresh strawberries, roasted pineapples and just-ripe bananas. Lots going on in the mouth, where I found smoke and vanilla and smooth as silk. What I like about them both is that they sell for under R40 a pop.

Something borrowed
I have borrowed an Italian recipe, given it Spanish tastes and come up with a winner.
Risotto, chorizo, sherry, saffron & tomato
This is a risotto with Spanish leanings, as I found a fabulous Spanish chorizo sausage and paired it with sherry, which I just love, tomato, brought to Spain by Christopher Columbus and saffron, the stamens of the Spanish Autumn crocus.

You’ll need
Extra virgin olive oil – Morgenster or Vesuvio
1 large red onion – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
400 g arborio rice
100 ml dry sherry
2 litres vegetable stock
1 envelope saffron
3 ripe tomatoes – skinned, seeded and cut into small pieces
2 Tbs tomato paste
flakes of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat a saucepan and pour in the olive oil, braise the onion and garlic until soft and transparent.
Add the rice and cook for a short while till the rice is heated through and each grain is covered with oil. Pour in the sherry and reduce till virtually all evaporated.
Dissolve the saffron powder in a little hot stock. Add the stock to the rice, ladle for ladle, stirring all the time until the rice is almost cooked.
Add the tomato and the tomato paste and continue cooking until rice is cooked. You can have it quite dry or soupy, depending on your own personal preference.
Season well with the salt and pepper and serve in bowls with grated grana padana or parmiggiano reggiano depending on the time of the month and the budget!
Iced sherry would be a perfect accompaniment, as would Stormhoek Pinotage 2006 if you can land a bottle – call Shane on 0823731914 if you can’t and tell him I said to phone him. Stormhoek do a really stunning Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc which are currently all the rage in the UK.

Something blue
The Blue Cove Boys are people to watch in 2007. Michael Bampfield Duggan and Murray Giggins of Wine Concepts in Newlands in partnership with the de Wets, father and son Steve and Jamie of Arabella in Robertson have created a range of seven wines called Blue Cove, being marketed in the UK by two young entrepreneurs and in local wine shops and supermarkets. The whites are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier and the reds – a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz – are joined by a Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. Rosé is quite the flavour of the month at the moment. Give it a whirl. Nicest thing about these wines is that they all go for the same price – 40 bucks a whirl.