Last week we attended the tasting of the latest Stellenbosch Hills vintages at the very rustic Panama Jacks, a restaurant most of us had been to in the past, in a time band of 15 – 25 years ago. The attendance was excellent, probably due to the length of time which we had last been to the restaurant.
Finding Panama Jacks was a challenge, one having to sign in at the booms of the Cape Town Harbour, and have one’s car boot checked. Signage to the restaurant was minimal. Inside the restaurant it was as if one was stepping into the past, the decor and furnishings not appearing to have changed in the past years at all. Stellenbosch Hills had taken over one half of the restaurant, dividing the room into half, setting up two tables for the tasting of the new vintages, and another two tables to enjoy the lunch afterwards. Looking at the flags decking the ceiling led one of the guests to say that she would love to take them down and give them a good wash. One felt the same about the flooring, as well as the cushions placed on the wooden chairs.
We were welcomed with glasses of Stellenbosch Hills Polkadraai Pinot Noir Rose 2016 sparkling wine, as well as platters of sushi.
Stellenbosch Hills Cellar Master PG Slabbert led us through the tasting of the eight new vintages. A tasting chart was at each place setting, with details about the vintage of each wine, its variety, and the aroma and taste of each of the wines:
# Stellenbosch Hills Chenin Blanc 2016: medium-bodied, refreshing and crisp acidity, with tropical and stone fruit flavours. PG described Chenin Blanc as the ‘Cinderella‘ of the industry.
# Stellenbosch Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2016: green tropical fruit on the nose. medium-bodied wine with lingering finish. This is a cooler temperature wine, from Polkadraai, from where one can see False Bay as well as Robben Island.
# 1707 White Reserve 2014: Elegant and voluptuous, nose with stone fruit, honey, and citrus. The blend is 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon, and 10% Viognier. PG described it as a food wine. It is matured in 100% New Oak for 10 months, with malalactic fermentation. Many of the grapes for this blend come from La Serena, the farm of Philip Kriel, the brother of PR Consultant Nicolette Waterford. He is one of the largest members of Stellenbosch Hills Winery.
# Stellenbosch Hills Bushvine Pinotage 2015: Deep Ruby red, full-bodied with chocolate, red berry, cherry fruit, vanilla, and sweet wood spice flavours. The bushvines come from the Kriel property too, 22 ha being delivered to Stellenbosch Hills. Another (BEE) supplier is Eric Phinallephe, who is leasing land from the Stellenbosch Municipality.
# Stellenbosch Hills Merlot 2015: Deep ruby red, full-bodied, with big tannin structure. Well-balanced, smooth palate, with lingering finish. Grapes are sourced from Stellenbosch Kloof and Vlottenburg.
# Stellenbosch Hills Shiraz 2015: Red fruit and heathery spice combined with freshly-turned earth, wood-smoke and fragrant milled pepper. Grapes come from Polkadraai and Vlottenburg. American and French oak barrels are used in equal measures.
# Stellenbosch Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: Ripe black cherry, mulberry, and some wood-smoke, vanilla, and pepper. Grapes are sourced from Vlottenburg and Stellenbosch Kloof.
# 1707 Red Reserve 2014: full-bodied blend, with red berry fruit, dark chocolate, and cigar box aromas. A blend of 50% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 11% Petit Verdot.
PG explained the choice of barrels to me, sitting next to him over lunch. A lighter toasted barrel is used for Merlot, while a medium roast is used for Shiraz barrels. Coopers assist winemakers in toasting the inside of their barrels, in accordance with the winemakers’ requirements. Stellenbosch Hills only sources wine from the Stellenbosch wine region, Helderberg being furthest away at 7 km. The rest of the grapes come from Polkadraai, Vlaeberg, Stellenbosch Kloof, Vlottenburg, and Lynedoch.
After the tasting we moved to the lunch tables, and we were served the starter, which we could choose prior to the tasting. All the wines we had tasted were available for drinking with the lunch.
I sat next to Melissa from House & Leisure, and we both had ordered fried calamari, which was served with spiced rice. We had order envy when we saw the platters of six voluptuous oysters being served to others, so we asked if the two of us could share a platter too. They were excellent! I was impressed that Panama Jacks offered fish knives, something one rarely sees at restaurants.
Every guest was served the linefish of the day, which was kingklip, being generous portions. Bowls of Caprese salad, with sundried tomato, lettuce, and mozzarella, were available to share. We could not fault the starters, as well as the kingklip.
The dessert was Bannoffee Pie which was generously covered in cream and bananas. I was sceptical about eating it at first, but enjoyed it. I did not order a dry cappuccino, worried that the restaurant would be so behind the times that they would not have a cappuccino machine!
We were speculating that the patrons sitting in the other wing of the restaurant had to be regulars, and probably enjoyed eating at a familiar restaurant that has not changed at all in the past twenty years or more. They are clearly sentimentally attached to their crockery, as I had a chipped plate for my main course as well as one for my dessert! We thanked Nicolette for bringing us back to one of Cape Town’s older restaurant, and an icon for seafood.
Disclosure: We received a bottle each of 1707 White Reserve 2014 and 1707 Red Reserve 2014, as well as a fan to attach to and operate via one’s computer, with our media pack
Stellenbosch Hills, Polkadraai Road, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 881-3828 www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za Twitter: @STBHills Instagram: @stellenbosch_hills
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein