Graze by the River held its latest wine pairing event last Saturday evening, featuring wines from the Montpellier Wine Estate in the Tulbagh Valley.
The wines were introduced by Kirsten Penn, a regular presenter at past pairings at Graze. She said the vineyards in the Tulbagh area were grown alongside fruit orchards and fields of wheat, and experienced a cold in the valley that created a good balance between acidity and fruitiness in the grapes.
Montpellier farm was established in 1714 by two French Huguenots from the city of Montpellier in France. Vineyards were only introduced 100 years later, mostly for personal use. It took up commercial production in the 1890s and has been producing award-winning wines ever since. The present winemaker is Reinard Odendaal .
For the starter salad of asparagus, preserved fig, goat cheese and pecan nuts, with a passion fruit dressing, Graze owner Nick Howard chose to pair it with the Montpellier 2018 sauvignon blanc.
Penn said the medium to full body wine had “bursts of floral and cut grass on the nose, with hints of passion fruit on the palate”.
Howard always makes a great salad and was astute in linking the passion fruit in the wine with passion fruit in the dressing.
The next course was slow roasted lamb rib served with a blackcurrant, plum and cinnamon reduction and a sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin and pecan nut croquette. It was served with the best wine of the evening, the Montpellier 2013 cabernet sauvignon.
Penn advised diners of “sweet spices on the nose, and mint and berries with an oak underflow in the mouth”. It was a strong wine and definitely enhanced with flavour in the barrel. It made the tender lamb that much more enjoyable.
Essentially a second main course, next up was a slow cooked venison, juniper berry and plum casserole served with cabbage and leek mash.
It was paired with the Spyseniersberg 2014 blend of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, merlot and petit verdot. Penn said it was well balanced with tannins and acidity, had rose petals on the nose and a plum finish on the palate.
The venison was a more subdued flavour after the lamb and aptly paired with the gentler blend.
The 2017 chenin blanc was the wine with dessert – apple and guava crumble with a granadilla parfait.
Penn described the chenin blanc as silky smooth and medium bodied. “There is guavadilla and citrus on the nose and traces of lime and passionfruit on the palate.”
It went down a treat.