I was invited by Cabo Esperanço Wines to attend a trade tasting of wines by Vondeling, Oak Valley, Blackwater, and Keermont earlier today at Dorrance Cellar on Hout Street, which I had never visited before. What a lovely space, with an earthy underground cellar feel. I was excited to hear that French Bistro Bouchon will open at Dorrance Cellar next month.
I had mistakenly thought that Dorrance Cellar was an importer of French wines, so it was a surprise when new colleague James Boreland of Dorrance Cellar explained that they make their own wines from local grapes:
- Cuvée Ameena Syrah, a blend of grapes from Perdeberg and Elgin, and named after owner Christophe Durand’s daughter Ameena.
- Cuvée Anaïs Chardonnay, made from grapes from Franschhoek and Elgin.
- Kama Chenin Blanc, made from 39-year bush vine in Perdeberg, and honors Christophe’s wife and business partner Sabrina.
James explained that Christophe imports barrels and other requirements from France for local winemakers. Their space has three sections: the tasting room with opens onto the square linked to Signal Hill Winery and Bizerca Bistro; an in-between space in which they can place a long table for 20 guests for events; and the new Bouchon Bistro, for which a kitchen is being established. The co-owner (with Durand) of the Bistro is Faisal Khakoo from La Boheme and La Bruixa, and he introduced me to Chef Morné Steenkamp, who has moved to Cape Town from Mozambique. The menu will have small tapas-style dishes, and will open from 15h00 on weekdays initially. It will be similar to the now-defunct Caveau, where Faisal once worked many moons ago, before he opened his own restaurants in Sea Point.
My first tasting stop was at the tasting table of Vondeling Wines, and Jane Ferreira poured a glass of her family’s Klein Optenhorst MCC, which has just won second best MCC Rosé in the Rosé Rocks competition. I also tried the Vondeling Erica 2012, named after a rare Paardeberg fynbos plant, a blend of Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Viognier. Other wines that were available for tasting were their Chenin Blanc 2015, Merlot 2015, Rosé 2015, Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Chardonnay 2014, Babiana 2013, Baldrick Shiraz 2013, Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sweet Carolyn 2013, and the Erica.
Chris Rawbone-Viljoen of Oak Valley Wines told me that he is the 5th generation family member linked to the surname. I tasted their Pinot Noir 2013, the first vines having been planted in 1985, and the first grapes were sold to Bouchard Finlayson. Oak Valley has made the Pinot Noir since 2005. Other Oak Valley Wines are Stone & Steel Riesling 2015, Fountain of Youth Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Sémillon 2014, Mountain Reserve 2011, and Shiraz 2014. The Pool Room restaurant at Oak Valley Wines has been taken over by Chef Gordon Manuel.
Winemaker Francois Haasbroek is a member of Zoo Biscuits, a collective of edgy winemakers who had a combined stand at CapeWine 2015. He was doing tastings of The Highroller Sauvignon Blanc 2014, The Underdog Chenin Blanc 2014, Blanc 2014, Prodigium Pinot Noir 2013, Cuvee Terra Lux Pinot Noir 2013, Swartland NOIR 2012, and Cultellus Syrah 2012.
The Keermont table was manned by winemaker of ten years Alex Starey, friendly in taking me through a tasting of three of their red wines: Syrah 2012, Keermont Companion Merlot 2012, and Keermont 2012. They also offered Terasse 2014, Sweetwater Rosé 2014, and Fleurfontein 2012. The farm is 30ha in size, and they use all their own grapes in making their wines.
Trays of canapés were circulated, prepared by the new Bouchon Bistro Chef Morné, consisting of chicken liver parfait on toast, beef cubes and Hollandaise sauce, mushroom risotto balls, duck spring rolls with soya reduction, and feta and spinach spanakopita.
Dorrance Cellar, 95 Hout Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-0695. www.vinsdorrance.co.za Twitter:@DorranceWines Monday – Friday 12h00 – 17h00.
Cabo Esperança Wines, Cell 0724496070. www.cabo-esp.com Twitter: @CaboWines