A wine and food (or wine and chocolate) pairing adventure at Creation Wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus in the Overberg.
Wine. Food. Chocolate. These are three of my favourite things. So imagine my relish when the three of them came together on a visit to Creation Wines in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near Hermanus in the Overberg.
The coming together was sublime. With the talents of owner/winemaker JC Martin in the cellar and inspirational chef Warwick Taylor in the kitchen, it was a marriage made in heaven.
Creation’s wines are delicious, a fine balance of elegance and finesse. No wonder they have won a bunch of awards as long as my arm. Some 40 hectares are planted to vines, producing 300 000 bottles on what used to be a sheep farm until just over a decade ago.
The food and wine pairing (35-60 minutes, R125pp) is a taste adventure, each canapé created to show off the wine that accompanies it. It would be cruel to subject you to a description of every one – you need to get out to the ‘heaven and earth’ valley to experience it for yourself.
Let’s look at just one white and one red, to give you an idea of what’s in store for you. Pineapple and basil gazpacho with scallops partnered the tropical fruit flavours of the Sauvignon Blanc, while beetroot, goat’s-milk cheese panna cotta with lentil salsa was served with the Pinot Noir – recent winner of both gold (the Reserve) and silver trophies in an international competition in Burgundy, France. Drool.
I could go on. I could mention the Chardonnay with flavours of what owner/marketer Carolyn Martin calls ‘sun-kissed pear and peach’. Or the soft, smooth Syrah/Grenache blend which is downright voluptuous. But I’m straying dangerously close to wine porn, so I’ll stop. I’m sure you get the picture.
We followed the tasting with a main course, sampling the fish, roast springbok and the duck breast, all of them delicious and presented as if they were works of art, without being overly fussy or precious.
Then it was time for a ‘paradoxical’ wine and chocolate pairing (20-30 minutes, R90pp) – paradoxical because, as everyone knows, wine and chocolate don’t really go well together. Our ebullient host Kyle van Niekerk explained that it had something to do with the way chocolate was tempered. So what Creation did was get a chocolatier to create the kind of chocolate that would enhance their wines rather than make them taste acidic while the chocolate fats stuck unpleasantly to your palate. ‘You can’t just put whatever you want into your face,’ said Kyle with an impish grin.
The result was intriguing. Again, I’ll torture you with just two examples. The peachy Viognier – which the UK’s Daily Mail described as having ‘a glittering freshness as bright as a diamond’ – went brilliantly with peaches and almonds in white chocolate, the Pinot Noir with a striking blend of blueberry, jasmine and cardamom chocolate.
It was a delectable voyage of discovery that put paid to any notion that wine and chocolate don’t marry. You just gotta know what you’re doing.
If you don’t leave Creation’s tasting room without buying at least a bottle or two of its wines – or wanting to kidnap chef Warwick Taylor and carry him home with you – I’ll eat my hat.
But only if Warwick does something magical with it first.
Other activities at Creation Wines
1. Go on a vineyard safari and explore the secrets of Creation’s vineyards, fynbos and birdlife. End with a picnic under a shady tree. 60-90 minutes, R295pp (6-12 people)
2. Create your own blend. This is one for those who think they have a good palate and that blending wines is easy-peasy. Start with a cellar tour and barrel tasting and learn about the art of blending wine. Then rise to the challenge of creating your own personal blend. 90 minutes, R350pp (minimum of 6), book at least a day in advance
3. Enjoy a tea and canapé pairing. This is ideal for people who don’t drink wine, for whatever reason. You get to taste eight luxury TWG teas (while your mates do the wine and food pairing). The teas from Singapore are perfectly partnered with canapés created by chef Warwick Taylor. I’m not a tea drinker, but the aromas were almost enough to tempt me – from coconut and coffee beans (‘like tiramisu exploded in a tobacconist,’ quipped Kyle), to wild berries, anise, ‘flowers from the Bermuda triangle’ and a scented tea with tiny, whole rosebuds in it.
Need to know Creation Wines Hemel-en-Aarde Rd, Hermanus Tel 028-2121107 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.creationwines.com Tasting, sales and cellar tours daily 10-5pm (except Christmas and New Year’s Day)
Roxanne Reid is a writer, editor, blogger and incurable Africa addict. Read more about her travels here.