Last night I attended the first Tracy van Maaren Wines Trade Tasting, representing a handful of select fine boutique wine estates, held at Auslese. Each of the wine estate’s wines offered for tasting was personally paired with a canapé designed by Chef Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine.
Tracy started her wine career by working as PA to Dana Buys at Vrede en Lust. She then moved into the clothing industry, but regretted this move. She returned to the wine industry, working at Jordan. Almost nine years ago she started her company, her first wine clients being Vriesenhof, Raats, and Catherine Marshall. She represents her clients’ wines in the ‘mid to top restaurants’ and independent retailers (e.g. Caroline’s, Wine Concepts, and Vino Pronto) in Cape Town and Stellenbosch, with Paarl and Franschhoek.
Auslese is a renovated house, available to rent for functions, about two blocks from Aubergine. It has a smallish kitchen, and the space was cleverly used to set up tasting tables for nine brands, with Pol Roger (Churchill’s favourite champagne) represented in the entrance hall by Great Domaines’ Derek Kilpin and their brand new French import Morgan Delacloche.
Arriving at about 18h30, there was no crush, and one could get to easily taste the wines and food pairings, chat to the wine representatives, and to the invited guests, which included John Maytham of Cape Talk, Mark Bland of Expresso, Mandi Jarman of Aquila, Chef Vanessa Marx and her colleague Rumby of Dear Me, Catharina’s Manager Ronel Smidt, sommelier and consultant Jörg Pfützner, John and Lynne Ford, and Mike Duggan of Wine Concepts.
Raats Family Wines’ flagship Family Cabernet Franc 2011 was very good, and I liked it more than their Dolomite Cabernet Franc 2012. The Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2012 was also available for tasting. The wine estate is a founding member of Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa, and a specialist in only two varietals: Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. They also poured their MR De Compostella 2012, a Bordeaux blend which Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin rated as ‘world class‘. Chef Harald had paired the Raats wines with country-style lamb terrine, and crusted lamb cutlets, with rosemary jus, and kale purée.
I loved the label of Catherine Marshall Wines’ Pinot Noir 2012, designed by Hannetjie de Clerq, my favourite artist. She has created a new label design for the brand every year. The Pinot Noir was paired with cured kudu, pomegranate glaze, and a mange tout salad. The Amatra Chenin Blanc 2013 was matched with a veal tongue salad with papaya pearls, and a blood sorrel and horseradish vinaigrette.
Kleine Zalze had its Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Family Reserve Chenin Blanc 2012, and new MCC 2010 (did not see this one) available at the Tasting, but the company representative seemed disinterested in us at his table.
Hannay Wines is a new brand I’d not heard of before, based in Elgin, and was established three years ago. It is owned by Malcolm Dicey, and Catherine Marshall is the Cellarmaster and winemaker. I enjoyed Hannay Cabernet Franc 2011, and there was a Sauvignon Blanc 2013 to taste as well. The Sauvignon Blanc was paired with swordfish with a fennel and grapefruit salad, and the Cabernet Franc with delicious red wine risotto balls with cherry guava.
Vriesenhof, owned by Jan ‘Boland’ Coetzee, offered its Chardonnay 2013 and Kallista 2009 (a Bordeaux Blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, and 26% Cabernet Franc) for tasting, and these were paired by Chef Harald with quail and sweetbread paupiette (stuffed meat roll), grated cauliflower couscous, and a passion fruit and organic lime geranium gel, and Hungarian paprika spiced ostrich koftas with fresh coriander salsa, respectively. Eagles’ Nest had its Merlot 2009 and Shiraz 2010 available, the Merlot being paired with squid ink risotto with calamari and chilli, spring onion confit, with tarragon aroma. The Shiraz was paired with polenta puree with porcini mushrooms and rosemary oil, and bresaola.
Silverthorn Cap Classique offered their The Jewel Box 2010 (60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir) and The Green Man 2011 (100% Chardonnay), and added its The Genie Rosé Brut (100% Shiraz) as well. The Jewel Box was paired with oysters with aubergine vinaigrette, and The Green Man was paired with green range chicken mousse with Waldorf salad, and brioche toast. Turkish Delight was paired with The Genie, which the Loubsers had brought along. Having just become a Facebook friend of Karen Loubser, we talked about her and her husband John’s 20th wedding anniversary yesterday.
The Trade Tasting appears to have been a success, with orders placed by restaurants at the Tasting last night.
Tracy van Maaren Wines. Tel 082 33 66 530. www.tvmwines.co.za (under construction) Twitter @TVMWines
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage