New winemaker Gielie Beukes met the media for the first time at the function, having started at Doolhof last September. He comes across as a little shy in speaking, but his confidence will grow. I was lucky in sitting next to him, so could obtain more information from him after he introduced us to his range of wines, just after General Manager Johan Fourie welcomed us. Gielie handled all aspects of the 2015 harvest for the first time, which meant that some of the wines we tasted (2014 and older) had been overseen by Rianie Strydom, who consults to the wine estate. Gielie moved across from Schalkenbosch, in Tulbagh, having previously worked harvests in Bordeaux and Napa, and having worked at Glen Carlou and La Motte. Gielie announced that they are discontinuing their Shiraz, and will sell off their grapes of this variety. They have also discontinued their Wooded Chardonnay, in a move to consolidate their range. Gielie shared with me that doing harvests in different countries was an immense learning experience, the French looking for optimum ripeness when picking grapes, while the Americans look for premium ripeness, picking grapes at an almost over-ripe state. Gielie is not only the winemaker, but has also been appointed as the Estate Manager.
La Mouette did a make-over at the start of winter, calling in the services of designer Liam Mooney, who went for a less-is-more design approach, removing all the silver-grey patterned wallpaper (a distinctive design synonymous with La Mouette) and painting the walls a dark ‘Burgigine’, a mix of Burgundy red and aubergine,with a stark Peacock turquoise blue in the passages and bathroom. There are no paintings on the walls, and the modern light fittings are industrial in design. The woodwork surrounding the fireplaces as well as on the chairs was given a make-over. It was a wet grey winter’s day, making photography more challenging. The fireplaces in both lunch rooms were most welcome.
When meeting in the La Mouette bar on arrival, we were served Doolhof Cape Series Cape Crane Chenin Blanc 2015 (affordable at R45 per bottle), with the signature dish of cheese and truffle croquettes, a favorite of anyone who has ever eaten at La Mouette.
I must commend Chef Henry Vigar for his creativity in each course, none of the combination of ingredients in the dishes having been seen or experienced before. We were told that Chef Henry had the Doolhof wines for a week prior to the function, and that he had worked hard in creating the perfect pairings between his dishes and the two Doolhof wines each of them were paired with.
A bread board was brought to the table, consisting of panini Rustica, focaccia with onion and herbs, and cranberry and cashew seed loaf, accompanied by slate butter and roasted garlic aioli.
The first course was a Celeriac soup, which was poured over a beautiful bowl with salt-baked celeriac, apple, truffle dressing, and king mushrooms, at the table. The soup was paired with Signatures of Doolhof Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (R68), and Signatures of Doolhof Chardonnay 2015 (R68).
I loved the second course, an unusual combination of house-cured duck ham and the most delicious duck liver parfait, which was served as a salad with rhubarb, pistachio, a Parmesan crisp, and port syrup. It was paired with the Signature of Doolhof Malbec 2012 (R135) and Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2012 (R135).
Gielie shared that the terroir in Wellington is different, which changes the character of the wines, growing in a hot area, making their wines very expressive. They do not buy in any grapes, and in fact sell off grapes they have too many of. Gielie said that the Doolhof wines ‘speak of nature and man working respectfully together in harmony’. Doolhof has three wine ranges: The Signature range, The Doolhof Legends of the Labyrinth range, as well as the Cape Series range.
The Beef shin and marmalade dish was unusual, being hidden underneath smoked mash, and served with charred onion, to which beef consommé was poured at the table, creating a sparkling look to the dish. The photograph I have chosen was without the consommé. This course was paired with the Signatures of Doolhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (R98) and Legends of the Labyrinth Lady in Red 2009 (R90).
This was followed by crispy lamb shoulder and fillet, served with Buffalo Fromage Blanc, pickled turnip, watercress purée, blackened wild garlic, and puffed barley (with a lovely crispy texture), paired with the Doolhof Legends of the Labyrinth Theseus 2011 (won Top Red at Quest for the Best 2014, R260) and Doolhof Single Vineyard Pinotage 2013 (R135).
Last but no means least was the dessert of dark chocolate, pavé (rectangular-shaped, frosted and layered sponge cake), smoked caramel, coffee cream, hazelnut ice cream, and Amaretto jelly, pure indulgence, paired with Legends of the Labyrinth Doolhof Dark Lady 2013 (won Double Gold in China Wine & Spirit Best Value Awards 2015, R80). The staff struggled with the request for a dry cappuccino, but the second offering was perfectly made.
Not only did I sit next to Gielie, but I also was in the good company of Luvo Ntezo, sommelier at the One&Only Cape Town, wine taster Greg Landman, Balducci and Belthazar sommelier and Slick Group Beverage Manager Andre Lourens, and wine writer and PRO Jeanri-Tine van Zyl.
“Gielie concluded: ‘I am grateful for the foundation that were given to me when I started here.The wines represent the Doolhof philosophy of nature, respect and teamwork. I am excited to show off these wines, which speaks volumes of the quality and terroir the Bovlei has to offer‘.
It was so warm and cosy inside our function room at La Mouette that it was hard to venture out in the rain to return home. We tasted good wines paired with excellent food creations, and enjoyed an enjoyable afternoon.
Disclosure: We received a gift pack of Doolhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Sauvignon Blanc 2015, and Single Vineyard Collection Pinotage 2013 with our media pack.
Doolhof Wine Estate, Bovlei Road, Wellington. Tel (021) 873-6911. www.doolhof.com Twitter: @DoolhofWines Monday – Saturday 10h00 – 17h00, Sunday 10h00 – 17h00.
La Mouette, 78 Regent Road, Sea Point. Tel (021) 433-0856. www.lamouette-restaurant.co.za Twitter: @TeamLaMouette