Grazing along with yet another perfect pairing

Graze lets evening flow with Knorhoek wines

GRAZE by the River’s food and wine pairing evenings have developed a popular following, with both locals and out-of-towners booking for the gourmet experience.

ARRAY OF TASTES: The starter at the latest food and wine pairing at Graze by the River was an asparagus, goat cheese and sweet pear salad with gooseberry dressing Picture: JON HOUZET

Last Saturday a small and intimate group of diners enjoyed wines from the Knorhoek Wine Estate paired with a five-course meal by Graze owner Nick Howard.

Winezani rep Kirsten Penn gave some background on the wine estate in the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountains. Its potential as farmland had been recognised as early as 1694. By 1793 Martin Melck had acquired most of this land and it was probably he who changed the name from the original Kleygat to Knorhoek.

It was once a wild place with an abundance of feline predators. These days caracal are occasionally seen on the farm and leopard sightings still occur in the higher reaches of the surrounding mountains – hence the use of the leopard on the Knorhoek Estate wine labels.

The estate is now in the fifth generation of award-winning wines.

For starters, the Two Cubs sauvignon blanc is said to have asparagus and gooseberry flavours. Howard complemented it with an asparagus, goat cheese and sweet pear salad with gooseberry dressing, also containing rocket, parmesan shavings and toasted almonds.

Fellow diners at my table said they definitely noticed a hint of gooseberries in the wine. I tended toward the asparagus. It was an easy drinking wine and complemented the salad perfectly.

SENSATIONAL: Smoked venison cappaccio and stuffed figs served with a berry reduction and horseradish cream Picture: JON HOUZET

“One of the benefits of living in the Eastern Cape is the abundance of game farms in the area and the availability of venison,” Howard said, introducing the next course. It was smoked venison cappaccio and stuffed figs served with a berry reduction and horseradish cream.

Howard described his fresh fig as “famous” and indeed it is delicious. The venison was very lightly smoked in a smoker and the horseradish provided a delightful zest. It was an absolute taste sensation, and wonderfully paired with the Two Cubs red blend of shiraz, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Definitely one of my favourite wines for the evening.

The middle course was an olive pasta, with Penne Provencale aubergine, sweet red pepper and vine tomatoes. It was paired with the premier wine for the evening, the Knorhoek cabernet sauvignon, which has already won several awards.

Penn said it “blows the whites out with a tomato-based meal”, and its full-bodied palate was immediately noticeable, with oak spice on the nose and a long, dry finish. It was superbly paired with the pasta, but also goes well with lamb, ostrich and venison.

The meatiest course was the ostrich fillet served on an Italian rosti with a berry reduction. It was paired with the Knorhoek merlot, which has lots of berry flavours, chocolate or mocha and sometimes mushrooms. It has soft tannins and is a medium-bodied wine enjoyed with or without food.

DECADENT: Dessert was summer berry pavlova with chocolate brownie ice-cream. It was paired with a rose Picture: JON HOUZET

For dessert, Howard prepared a summer berry pavlova with chocolate brownie ice-cream “just to really fatten it up”. It was a decadent finish to a marvellous evening that required every last morsel to be consumed.

Dessert was aptly paired with the Two Cubs rose, not a very sweet wine, but off-dry. A wine like this is a good finisher as well as a good starter.

The next wine pairing at Graze will be in June. Howard has them every two months, and in between, he has “real ale” pairings. Contact Graze to book.

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