The KWV is one of the oldest wine tasting venues, having done cellar tours for a good fifty years. It has shaken off its old-fashioned image in its tasting venue called the KWV Wine Emporium, selling an extensive range of wines, liqueurs, ports, and related products such as chocolates, Platter wine guides, the food and wine pairing guide by Katinka van Niekerk, and much more. Impressive is its creativity in a number of options for food and KWV wine pairings.
I read about the tastings in the Bolander freesheet, and it sounded interesting enough to add to an outing to Paarl yesterday. I got lost trying to find the building, turning down alongside the KWV Head Office on Main Road, and one should get exact instructions and not use the head office building as a guideline to find the Emporium building, as it is on the other side of the railway line, near the back entrance of Paarl Mall. A call guided me to the right street. The exterior of the building shows its history, but one steps inside a buzzing and busy windowless large tasting and KWV product display room. At the entrance the prices of the different tasting options are specified, but a printed version of this list was not immediately available, and was not up to date, the new winter-only Port and Cake tasting not listed on it. The staff was very helpful in setting up the Port and Cake tasting for a photograph, as I intended to do one tasting only, after having already had a glass of dessert wine with lunch at Bosman’s.
The tasting options at the KWV Wine Emporium of KWV wines, brandies, ports, liqueurs, and more are the following:
* Cellar Tour, including an audio-visual of the company and its brands, tour of the barrel maturation cellar, the ‘world-renowned’ Cathedral Cellar, the Big Five Vats, and a tasting of six KWV wines. Tours are done at 10h00, 10h30 and 14h15 in English and at 10h15 in German on Monday – Saturday, and at 11h00 in English on Sunday. One can pre-book tours in French, Spanish and Swedish. Duration is 90 minutes and costs R30.
* Winetasting of five KWV products costs R15
* Wine growing tour, includes the Cellar Tour, but also the tour of the modern fermentation cellar, the crushing facility, a talk with a winemaker, and a tasting of eight KWV products. Tour done by reservation only, and a ‘very good knowledge of wine is recommended’. Duration 2 hours. Cost R50
* Introduction to Food and Wine Pairing, tasting five wines and ‘selected food bits representing the five taste sensataions’. In hindsight, I wished I had reserved this tasting. Reservation required. R35.
* Biltong, Nuts and Wine Experience, a tasting of five KWV wines (Sparkling Cuvée Brut, Sparkling Semi-Sweet, Chardonnay 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, and Cape Full Cream) with biltong, droë wors, and cashew nuts, no reservation required, R 35.
* KWV Mentors Tasting, tasting five wines in the ‘ultra premium’ KWV The Mentors range (Semillon 2009, Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend 2009, Grenache Blanc 2010, Chardonnay 2010, Chenin Blanc 2008, and Viognier 2009), no reservation required, R 30.
* Chocolate and Brandy Tasting, tasting four KWV brandies (5 and 10 year old, as well as 15 and 20 year old potstill) and four Huguenot Fine Chocolate chocolates (hazelnut praline, milk chocolate, 70 % cocoa chocolate and white chocolate), no reservation required, R 35.
* Liqueur and Chocolate Tasting, tasting four KWV liqueurs and four Lindt chocolates. The tasting of the liqueurs is done first, and then the pairing and tasting with the chocolates is done. An espresso is served, to clear the palate. The first liqueur tasted was a 2005 White Muscadel, and it has a soft, smooth, honey, citrus taste. The Van der Hum is an old classic, and is made by putting mandarin skins in brandy spirit for three months. Then eight herbs and spices, including cloves and cinnamon, are added to neutral spirit, and added to the mandarin-flavoured brandy spirit, becoming a refreshing liqueur. Suzanne recommended the Van Der Hum for baking and cooking, and especially for the sauce for Duck L’Orange. Van der Hum Cream Liqueur has cream added with butterscotch notes, and the Wild Africa has flavours of caramel, fresh cream, toffee and coconut, and is the most ‘commercial’ looking product in terms of its pack design, making it popular among tourists, with a taste similarity to Baileys. The two non-cream sweeter liqueurs were paired with the bitter 70% and 85% mini-slabs of Lindt chocolate. Whilst the Lindt Orange Intense was meant to be paired with the Van der Hum Cream Liqueur, it was even better paired with the Van der Hum Liqueur. The Lindt Mint Intense pairing with the Wild Africa made it taste of After Eight. No reservation required, R35.
* Port and Cake Tasting, during winter only, pairing four KWV ports with four home-made cakes (fruit cake, orange and almond cake, Saint-Nicholas cake – with dates, walnuts, rum, and almonds – and a Coffee, hazelnut and chocolate cake, for which I was given a recipe sheet!), no reservation required, R 35.
* Cellar Tour with Chocolate and Brandy Tasting/Biltong, Nut and Wine Tasting/Liqueur and Chocolate Tasting, must be pre-booked, costs R50, and is a combination of tours.
Suzanne did the tasting with me, being flexible in slowing down when I was taking notes. Brigitte came to say hello, and we connected via our German roots, and our parents knowing each other from the local Lutheran Church. Maya is Swiss, and in total there are seven staff. Brigitte says that staff brainstorms led to the selection of tasting options, and that they are constantly looking at new pairing options. The Chocolate and Brandy and Liqueur and Chocolate Tastings are the most popular.
KWV Wine Emporium, Kohler Street, Paarl. Tel (021) 807-3007. www.kwvwineemporium.co.za . Monday – Saturday 9h00 – 16h30, Sunday 11h00 – 16h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage