One acclaimed winemaker, one Stellenbosch cellar, two brands, both Bordeaux blends, but vastly different and each unique. So the two brands Van Biljon CINQ 2011 and Keet First Verse 2010 were presented to more than 30 wine writers at Aubergine Restaurant on Friday last week.
Chris Keet started off as winemaker at Delheim, and then moved to Delaire. This was followed by 15 years at Cordoba Wines. When he left Cordoba in 2008, he decided to offer his services as a wine consultant. He made his own wine under the Keet Wines name in 2009, and has just released the 2010 vintage. Chris said his Bordeaux blend First Verse consists of 32% Cabernet Franc, 27% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petit Verdot, and 4% Malbec. The wine was matured in French oak barrels for 18 months. Chris buys in his grapes from some of his clients as well as from other farms in the Helderberg, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch Mountain, and Polkadraai Hills, and hopes to buy some grapes from Van Biljon Wines in future, he shared. In Platter he and his 4,5* 2009 First Verse wine is described as follows by reviewer Tim James: ‘Unusually for a top Bordeaux blend, he uses little new oak- it’s part of the unshowy Keet style’. Keet achieved 5 stars in Platter for his 2010 vintage. Keet is not only highly regarded as a very competent winemaker, but also as a viticulturist and oenologist. Only 6000 bottles of First Verse have been made, and cost R320 each.
One of Chris’ clients is opthalmologist Anton van Biljon, who had bought a boutique wine farm on the Polkadraai Hilsl ten years ago, wanting to make something substantial of it, and leave a legacy for his four children. He had called in a consultant, and was advised to remove all the vines he had on the farm, and to plant the five Bordeaux cultivars. Anton’s farm borders on that of De Trafford and Reyneke, so he knew he had excellent terroir for winemaking on his farm, in addition to the perfect climate with sea breezes from False Bay, and granite soils. Anton’s goal was to make the best Bordeaux blend, only using his own grapes, and Chris makes both his and Anton’s wine in the Van Biljon cellar. We met Julia van Biljon as well, previously from the fashion industry, and she is a charming ambassador for her husband’s wine brand. It was Julia, a good friend of Mrs Graff, that found Delaire for the Graffs. The CINQ name means 5 in French, denoting the five variants (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Malbec) that make up Bordeaux blends, and its first 2011 vintage achieved 4,5 * in Platter. The wine was matured in French oak for 18 months, 3000 bottles having been made, and selling at R280 each.
Aubergine owner and chef Harald Bresselschmidt is a master at food and wine pairings, and PR consultant Nicolette Waterford briefed Chef Harald about the two wines, giving him free reign to create the ideal dishes to pair with each of the two wines. The starter was the thinnest slices of Springbok carpaccio, in a white pepper crust, which had been seared, and was served with cherry guavas. This was paired with the Van Biljon CINQ 2011. The main course was lamb rack as well as an involtini (‘small bite of food consisting of some sort of outer layer wrapped around a filling’, defines About.com) of lamb and aubergine, served with chickpea purée and pomegranate. This was served with Keet First Verse 2010.
Our dessert was most unusual, being described as a Savoury Tarte of Three Hard Cheeses, served with pumpernickel crème anglaise and a slice of grapefruit, which could be paired with either of the two wines. Friandises were served with the coffee.
I was lucky to sit at the table with Chris and Leanne Keet, and Anton and Julia van Biljon, so we were able to get to know their personal side too, in addition to hearing more about their special wines. The tasting and lunch was a relaxing treat at the end of a busy week.
Disclosure: We received a bottle each of Keet First Verse 2010 and Van Biljon CINQ 2011 with our media pack.
Keet Wines. Cell 082 853 1707. www.keetwines.co.za No Social Media
Van Biljon Wines. Tel (021) 882-8445. www.vanbiljonwines.co.za No Social Media
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage