Throughout each season, The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town celebrates the rich bounty of the region by hosting exclusive culinary occasions, some of which showcase wineries from South Africa’s verdant Winelands. In anticipation of the summer’s gastronomic events, hosted in collaboration with Stellenbosch wine estates, we spoke to some of the people behind these flourishing vineyards to find out what makes South African wines so unique and what foods make the perfect pairings.
Luke O’Cuinneagain, the Winemaker at Glenelly Estate, gives us the lowdown on why South African wine stands out.
What makes the wine in South Africa so unique?
“The South African wine industry is older than the Medoc in Bordeaux, with vintners who have to work with complex soils. South Africa never suffered from the Ice Age, hence we did not have the glaciation effect of removing the top soils. In combination with these soils is the varying environment, which leads to big variations in the styles of wines. The wine scene is growing more and more as people look for more curious wines.”
Which Glenelly wines are you especially proud of, and what food pairs well with them?
“I love our Lady May, due its complexity and ability to age very well. And another favourite is the Grand Vin red blend, due to the layering of flavours and aromatics. The Lady May goes well with Karoo Lamb, and the Grand Vin goes with venison.”
Take a look at The Twelve Apostles events page for updates on the next Wine Dinner with Glenelly.
Heleen Rabe, a Director at Hartenberg Wine Estate, tells us about Hartenberg wine, and Cape Town’s creative wine scene.
What makes the vineyards in South Africa special?
“The winegrowing areas range from sea level right up to more than 1,000 metres, and are cultivated in harmony with nature. A lot of focus is placed on preserving our indigenous species. We are one of the few countries where wine farms work closely with nature.”
Which Hartenberg wines stand out for you, and what dish should they be paired with?
“The Gravel Hill Shiraz is our favourite red wine. Soon after Carl Schultz – the Cellar Master at Hartenberg Wine Estate and Cape Winemakers Guild member – started at Hartenberg in 1993 he realised how unique this land is. He went on to bottle the 1995 vintage site-specific wine; it is one of the first site-specific wines in South Africa, and has built a reputation for its elegance. The 2005 vintage of this wine is now available on the estate. The Gravel Hill Shiraz starts showing its true beauty and character after 10 years of aging. The wine can be paired with a rich meat dish.”
Tell us about Cape Town’s wine scene.
“The wine scene is in an incredibly creative and exciting place at the moment, with the public wanting to explore new varietals and blends. There is also a huge trend in exploring the older vintage wines to taste wines that have had time to develop in the bottle.”
The next Twelve Apostles Wine Dinner hosted in collaboration with Hartenberg Wine Estate will be July 29th 2016.
Richard de Almeida, Brand Ambassador for DeMorgenzon Stellenbosch, explains how the local terroir is key to the wine’s success.
What is the great appeal of South African wine?
“As one international commentator said: ‘South African white wines are bottled sunshine and the reds are pure, natural fruit expression.’ The Cape is uniquely diverse in terms of terroir and climate. Some of the first vines here were planted in 1655, so the Dutch clearly saw it was a good wine region. At DeMorgenzon our winemaking philosophy encompasses old-world elegance with new-world fruit, with the benefit of cooling ocean breezes, and we are the first part of the valley to get the sun in the morning. Our winemakers take advantage of this and produce wines that are fruit-driven and terroir-specific.”
Which wine do you recommend, and what should people eat with it?
“Try the award winning Maestro White; a Rhone-white with South African influence. It comprises five different cultivars from different parts of the estate, capturing the uniqueness of our terroir. Because it is bold, full-bodied and textured, but also fresh with good acidity, the Maestro White pairs well with a wide-range of dishes, from a rich fish dish or lobster, to a creamy pasta dish.”
What is the wine scene like in Cape Town?
“The wine scene in Cape Town is constantly evolving. We have been producing wine here for over 350 years, so the industry is very established, but it is increasingly accessible in both availability and style.”
The next Twelve Apostles Wine Dinner hosted in collaboration with DeMorgenzon will be August 26th 2016.
It’s not only at these special culinary events that The Twelve Apostles exhibits the region’s cuisine. At any time, pride is taken in the provenance of South African produce, and showcased at Azure Restaurant.
Image credits: Cover photo of grapes in Stellenbosch © iStock / Andrew Hagen. Glenelly Estate Manor © Glenelly Estate. The vineyards at Glenelly Estate © Glenelly Estate. The grapes at Glenelly Estate © Glenelly Estate. The wine at Hartenberg Wine Estate ©Hartenberg Wine Estate. The vineyards at Hartenberg Wine Estate ©Hartenberg Wine Estate. A view across Stellenbosch © iStock / Dhoxax. Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles © Red Carnation Hotels.