Doolhof wine estate celebrated its 300th anniversary with the launch of its Theseus 2009 wine at a wine tasting and lunch at Signal restaurant at the Cape Grace hotel yesterday. Theseus was the mythical founder-king of Athens, a traveller in search of adventure.
Owner Dennis Kerrison is a charming British gentleman, and explained why he had bought a farm in Wellington, and such a large one, having only wanted a 5 ha piece of land to be a garagiste! He had regularly travelled to South Africa, and found the soils of Wellington to be very good, and the land reasonably priced, in contrast to Franschhoek! He bought the 398 ha Doolhof, ‘with lots of fynbos and rock’, in 2003, loving the valley. Doolhof means labyrinth in Afrikaans, and describes its mysterious, alluring, and hidden treasures, even having once been home to witches, according to legend. Jacques Potier of the Dutch East India Company was allocated the land in 1712, and over the years the property has had Thomas Bain, builder of Bain’s Kloof Pass in Wellington, live on the farm, as did Lady Anne Barnard, who loved its 44 orange trees, she wrote. The Grand Dédale Country House is one of my favourites, and the decor for it has been very tastefully done by his wife Dorothy.
Mr Kerrison stated that they are committed to Biodiversity (100 hectares have been identified for clearing of alien plant invasion, and are commited to preserve the fynbos on the farm), Fairtrade, and other ethical wine farming methods and policies. He and his staff are committed to producing wines of excellence.
Winemaker Friedrich Kühne is of German descent, the German names proudly having been carried over in the family over the generations since a forebear moved to South Africa, he said. He has been at Doolhof for the past four years, and took the wine writers and bloggers through a tasting of the Doolhof Legends of the Labyrinth range:
* Lady in White 2010 is a blend of 59% Chenin Blanc, 27% Semillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, of which 28% is wooded. The Chenin Blanc comes form 35 year old bush vine. It has lemongrass, citrus, floral, and wood on the nose, and 12% alcohol. It pairs well with seafood and sushi, and costs R80 at the cellardoor.
* Lady in Red 2008 is a Bordeaux blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot, with cedarwood, oak, plum, black fruit, and cinnamon notes, ideally suited to drinking with pasta and pizza, and red meats. Each wine was matured separately in French oak for 14 months. It costs R80.
* The Minotaur 2008 is the top of the range Cape blend made from handpicked grapes form the estate’s premier vineyards, only the best barrels selected, with 5000 – 7000 bottles produced every year, with 21% Pinotage, 21% Malbec, 21% Shiraz, 17% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Petit Verdot. Best drunk with red meat, rich sauces, and game. It costs R150.
* Dark Lady Pinotage 2011 has strong coffee mocha notes, with dark fruit, black berry, and cherry, ideal to be drunk with coffee, Christmas pudding, ostrich, duck, curry, and chocolate mousse. It costs R70.
* The new Theseus 2009 is a Bordeaux blend of 33% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 17% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot, with 80% matured in new wood. It will only be made in the years in which the grapes are good enough. It has red fruit, cassis, and plums on the nose. Matured for 24 months in French oak barrels. Best served with steak and lamb. It costs R230.
After the tasting we moved through to the Signal restaurant, and had a fun table, entertained by Fiona McDonald and Greg Landman. The first starter was a pan fried scallop, charred sweet corn, cauliflower pureé, black forest ham velouté, topped with pea shoots, which was paired with Lady in White. The second starter was beautifully plated, being Springbok carpaccio, with a smoked capsicum salsa, with balsamic and olive oil drizzled rocket, and herb dusted croutons, which was paired with the Minotaur and Lady in Red.
A palate cleanser was an interesting mix of cucumber, mint and lime sorbet, and summer melon salad. The main course was an outstanding tender grilled Chalmar beef fillet with roasted garlic mash, sautéed baby spinach and a delicious mushroom and truffle sauce, paired with the new Theseus. The dessert was a pretty looking dark chocolate tart, praline ice cream, and cherries, paired with the Dark Lady, and accompanied by a cappuccino.
Doolhof is a lovely wine estate at the end of the Bovlei Road, an oasis to escape to from a busy schedule in staying over, or to taste the strong and bold Doolhof wines, which also offers a Cape Range and Signature Range.
Disclosure: We received a bottle of The Minotaur and Theseus with our media pack.
Doolhof wine estate, Bovlei Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-6911 www.doolhof.com Twitter: @DoolhofWines Tasting Room open daily, 10h00 – 17h00 (closes at 16h00 on Sundays).
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage