LOVERS of fine dining were treated to another fabulous wine pairing at Graze by the River last Saturday night.
Graze owner and chef Nick Howard brought his full talents to bear, creating mouth-watering dishes to match the range of wines from Journey’s End wine estate, which is situated at Sir Lowry’s Pass.
The wine estate was founded by Roger Gabb, who bought the property, then in a fairly derelict state, in 1995. Gabb was not a winemaker himself, but in the wine importing business in the UK.
With the help of local experts they cleared and replanted the vineyard block by block. They solved their irrigation problem by purchasing a neighbouring property with access to the river, and later on Gabb’s son Rollo – now the proprietor of Journey’s End – acquired more land where they built their own cellars.
The estate now comprises about 105 hectares, of which 35 are under vine. About 95% of their production is exported.
The evening at Graze started with one of Howard’s famous salads – mixed greens, watercress, kiwi fruit, apple and goat’s cheese with a passion fruit dressing. It was paired with the Weather Station sauvignon blanc, grapes that are harvested early in the morning at the highest part of the farm, and then matured in stainless steel tanks for four months.
The goat’s cheese and pecan nuts in the salad especially brought out the flavour of the wine, which has hints of apple, lime, kiwifruit and gooseberries.
Howard’s second course was a trio of fruits from the sea – mussels from Morgan Bay, a tiger prawn and fresh kob in a creamy white wine sauce, served with sweet potato mash.
“One of our specialties at Graze is linefish,” said Howard. “We grilled the prawns with lemongrass, ginger and coriander.”
It was beautifully paired with the Haystack chardonnay, which is balanced between freshness and creaminess. The chardonnay at Journey’s End is separated and matured three different ways – a third in French oak barrels, a third in stainless steel tanks with staves, and a third in stainless steel tanks with no wood contact. After six months they are blended and bottled.
For the third course, we moved from white to red wine, The Pastor’s Blend Bordeaux blend paired with roasted duck breast sourced from a local farm. The duck was served with a plum and cherry reduction, mash and spinach.
Excellent with the duck, it is easy to see why the Bordeaux blend is the second most popular product of Journey’s End.
A healthy portion of venison and ostrich fillet arrived for the fourth course, served with mushroom and truffle sauce, and a cabbage, leek and potato mash. It helped not having eaten earlier in the day and by now the wine was creating a pleasant buzz and mirthful banter around the table.
The Huntsman, a blend of shiraz, mourvedre and viognier, was the pairing for this course. Like the Bordeuax blends, it is also matured in barrels for 12 months.
Truly the best wine was saved for last, with the flagship Cape Doctor cabernet sauvignon (2012) paired with dessert, a chocolate sponge with a plum, berry and milk tart parfait with toasted almonds. A spectacular finish to the evening.