Best saved for last at Thistle wine pairing

Diners attending a wine pairing dinner at The Thistle Restaurant last Saturday had the benefit of tasting notes being presented by Zevenwacht Wine Estate’s new winemaker, Hagen Viljoen.

Although he has only been at Zevenwacht for a month, Viljoen has worked in the industry for 13 years, since he graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree in viticulture and oenology.

He also previously worked as assistant winemaker at Zevenwacht in 2011 and 2012.

Zevenwacht is situated on the Stellenbosch Wine Route, with panoramic views of Table Mountain, Table Bay and False Bay. The name Zevenwacht is derived from the Dutch, “Seven Expectations”. It is a modern wine farm with a 300-year history.

To accompany a canape consisting of a baked parma ham basket with camembert cheese and preserved figs, Viljoen presented diners with the Zevenwacht 7even rose, 2017 vintage.

Viljoen said it was 100% cabernet franc, and perfectly complemented the tasty canape.

The first course was beef carpaccio Siciliana, with rocket, capers and parmesan shavings. It was served with one of the estate’s premier wines, the 360 sauvignon blanc.

“The sauvignon blanc vines are basically the highest part of the farm. At the top you have a 360 degree view of the area – so the name is for the panoramic view,” Viljoen said. “Ironically it’s also close to 360m above sea level.”

The wine left a nice aftertaste with the carpaccio and rocket.

Next up was bourbon sweet potato bisque with cinnamon croutons and crispy smoked bacon with a hint of maple syrup. The soup had a lovely thick texture, well complemented by the bacon.

The wine that went with it was The Tin Mine, a blend of chenin blanc, chardonnay, viognier and roussanne.

Viljoen said the chenin blanc was from one of the oldest vines on the estate – 1981. Although the older vines have lower yields, he said there was value in keeping them as they have complexity and concentration in their crops, and were more in balance.

The name Tin Mine is for the tin mines which operated on the slopes of the estate in the years leading up to the First World War.

Diners had the choice of grilled line fish or beef fillet for the mains. I chose the beef because it came with a red wine, which I prefer – the Zevenwacht cabernet sauvignon.

As Viljoen said, there was a bramble berry taste with lots of fruit. It went perfectly with the fillet, which was moist and tender and served with roast garlic mashed potato, grilled cauliflower and mushroom ragu.

Originally paired with the fillet, everyone got a taste of what was the best wine of the evening – the Z Reserve. Like Jesus’ miracle at Cana, the best was saved for last. A blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon, 12% cabernet franc, 10% merlot, 4% malbec, 4% petit verdot, it was a beautifully smooth wine with a full, rich flavour.

Dessert was still to come, but the Z lingered on the palate. Dessert was wickedly delicious deep fried ice cream in a honeycomb pastry shell with chocolate fudge, meringues and fresh berries.

Rather than a wine, it was complemented with a glass of Amarula cream.

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