My dear friend, the fabulous foodie from Food & the Fabulous, and I don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we would like to. This is mostly due to intense travel itineraries that see her going to Mexico when I am in Cape Town, and me going to Muizenberg when she is in Pretoria, or her being at some fabulous event in London while I am hiking on the Wild Coast. But this weekend, we were both in Cape Town and a long overdue weekend of catching up, eating food and drinking lots of wine was had. Given that she is the foodie, and this is her stomping-ground, I usually leave all the planning to her. This time, the theme was biodynamic vineyards – a concept that is still rather unusual in South Africa. However, it is something we will probably see more of in the future.
“Biodynamic is similar to organic farming in that both take place without chemicals, but biodynamic farming incorporates ideas about a vineyard as an ecosystem, and also accounting for things such as astrological influences and lunar cycles. A biodynamic wine means that the grapes are farmed biodynamically, and that the winemaker did not make the wine with any common manipulations such as yeast additions or acidity adjustments.” (winespectator.com)
At Avondale, we tried the full complement of wines while enjoying a fantastic platter by signature chef Matt Manning. Their wines have beautiful names like Anima, Cyclus, Camissa and La Luna, drawing reference to the biodynamic principles that have gone into their crafting. I was particularly impressed with the Anima Chenin Blanc which was fruity yet full of character, and the elegant and velvety smooth Samsara Syrah.
“Our ethos, Terra Est Vita meaning ‘soil is life’ encapsulates our view of Avondale Estate as a dynamic living system where nothing compromises the growing of our healthy, balanced grapes and the making of naturally delicious wines. We are constantly learning from Nature and emulating its ways of sustaining an ecosystem to the advantage of our vines. This includes building soil fertility, cleansing the water, promoting biodiversity, using the services of natural predators, using leading technology to communicate in the ecosystem and connecting to the energy of our special place on the Earth.”
At Waterkloof, the wines bear equally inspiring names with Circle of Life being quite self-explanatory, and Circumstance referring to the fact that a wine is always affected by the circumstances during the growth-cycle and harvest. For something quite unusual, try their Seriously Cool Cinsault, produced from 40 year old bush vines and best enjoyed slightly chilled.
But we were there for the food this time! Their “Restaurant in the Sky”, headed up by Chef Gregory Czarnecki, was a new entry on the Eat Out Top 10 this year. We went for the 6-course Degustation Menu, and were not disappointed. I particularly liked the Norwegian Salmon Gravad Lax with cultured cream and fennel sorbet (and remember, gravad lax is a staple where I come from!), and the Belnoir Forest Phantom goat’s cheese which was accompanied by a pistachio brittle that I would almost be prepared to kill for.
“Chef Czarnecki places an emphasis on using only the freshest seasonal ingredients, such as free-range eggs, farm-reared Schapenberg lamb, and a variety of common and rare herbs and vegetables – many of which are grown and sourced right here at Waterkloof.”
Biodynamic wine, locally sourced, organic food and good friends; need I tell you that my weekend was one of The Best Ever?!