Blaauwklippen launched the tenth Zinfandel-inspired product in its range last week at a lunch held at Blues restaurant in Camps Bay, the new Diva Zinfandel MCC 2013 being the first made with this grape varietal in our country. Only two others are made with Zinfandel, in California, we were told by Rolf Zeitvogel, Cellar Master and MD of Blaauwklippen. The launch of Blaauwklippen Diva MCC 2013 forms part of the wine estate’s celebration of its 333rd anniversary this year.
Blues has operated in Camps Bay for more than 25 years, and was a
clever choice in ‘pairing’ the two ‘blue’ brand names. It was a perfect summer day, and we were welcomed on the terrace with canapés of chicken liver paté, and mushroom with truffle oil bruschetta on the terrace, paired with the new Zinfandel Diva 2013. Inside we were seated over two tables, with a stand built up to display the new Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Diva bottles, decorated with shells.
Rolf explained that the new ‘Diva’ name stands for Delightful, Innovative, Vivacious, and Attitude, characterising the new Zinfandel MCC. Zinfandel is a varietal which is known to be temperamental and challenging, but is very rewarding. Rolf shared that the ripening of their Zinfandel grapes had been delayed in 2013, and they decided that the grapes from a particular block were perfect for an MCC. The wine was kept on the lees for eight months, before the second fermentation in the bottle, spending 13 months in the bottle after disgorgement. They produced 4500 bottles of the 2013 vintage, which will be available from mid-April at a cellar-door price of R135 . It has 11,4% alcohol and a residual sugar of 5,4. A 2014 vintage has been produced as well. The pack design will definitely appeal to the ladies, in a pink and silver design.
We were privileged to taste seven Zinfandel wine and vintages with our lunch, most courses paired with two wines. It was the eighth annual Blaauwklippen Zinfandel Tasting. Zinfandel was first planted in the ‘Seventies at Blaauwklippen by former winemaker Walter Finlayson To guide our tasting, we found a Blaauwklippen Wine Journal at our place setting. It was personally signed by Rolf, and a page for each of the Zinfandel wines tasted was prepared for each one of us.
The first starter prepared by Blues Chef Lorenzo Magni was a classic ceviche of yellowtail, calamari, West Coast mussels, and micro herbs, paired with the new Zinfandel Diva. I was bowled over by the waiter bringing me a portion without mussels, even though I had not requested this as we sat down, reflecting the professionalism of Blaauwklippen PR consultant Nicolette Waterford, in having noted my mussel allergy from previous functions, instructing the kitchen to exclude mussels from my dish, and calamari from that of my table neighbour Anel Grobler!
The second starter was a colourful dish of seared tuna with curried apple and sultana slaw, which looked just like chips in their presentation, ‘misleading’ most of us when we popped the cold ‘chips’ into our mouth! To this was added prawns. The Blaauwklippen Zinfandel 2007 and 2012 vintages were paired with this starter.
I was particularly impressed with the main course of grilled Springbok loin, which had been coated in a smoked mushroom and herb mix (giving a lovely crispy crunchy texture), served with a berry red wine jus, roasted carrots, maize meal, beetroot, and mushroom duxelles. This dish was paired with the Blaauwklippen 1990 (an unbelievably good pairing) and 2011 Zinfandel vintages.
Although we had been spoilt with the courses so far, we could not resist trying the selection of items making up the dessert platter: a chocolate fondant with Marc de Zinfandel (‘Marc’ is the new local name for Grappa, meaning skins, which one may no longer use in our country, Rolf explained) white chocolate mousse and berry compote, which were paired with the Blaauwklippen Noble Late Harvest 2007 and 2011 vintages; as well as a lemon drop truffle and a rum treasure chest chocolate (made by chocolatier Jane Stuart and sold at Blaauwklippen), paired with Marc de Zinfandel as well as Marc de Zinfandel Noble Late Harvest.
The Blaauwklippen Zinfandel launch lunch and tasting was a wonderful way to end off what had been a very busy week for most. Many were surprised at the quality of the wonderful lunch, the restaurant having lost visibility more recently, despite being a Camps Bay institution. The level of staff service was higher than average, other than one incident when a waiter wanted to place one of two forks I had used for one of the starters back onto the table, despite both being on my empty plate, denoting that both forks had been used.
Disclosure: We received the Blaauwklippen Wine Journal, and a bottle each of Blaauwklippen Zinfandel 2011, White Zinfandel 2012, and Marc de Zinfandel NLH with our media pack.
Blaauwklippen Vineyards. R44, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 880-0136 www.blaauwklippen.com Twitter: @Blaauwklippen
Blues, Victoria Road, Camp Bay. Tel (021) 438-2040 www.blues.co.za Twitter: @BluesRestaurant