Bellingham, two stunners from The Bernard Series & Alida Ryder’s Lamb Ragu with Cauliflower Gnocchi – 24.04.2017

Bernard & Fredagh Podlashuk

Bernard and Fredagh Podlashuk were the creators of the modern-day Bellingham.  They bought it after Bernard was boarded form the Air Force just after World War 2.  No ordinary couple, they set about restoring the Manor House and its garden.  And of course, the winery.  Bernard, known as Pod to his friends, was no trained winemaker, yet he made some of the leading wines of his time.  The first estate bottle Shiraz, the Almeida Rosé and the Premier Grand Cru. He invented pieces of equipment and had them made in Stainless Steel, including a drainer, which his winemaking friends joked about and it became known as Pod’s Folly.  And of course, it was a success.

Niël Groenewald on a recent visit to Japan

Today, Bellingham’s winemaker is Niël Groenewald, a big man in every respect.  Phenomenal and award winning winemaker, humble and passionate about his craft.

Bellingham’s The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2014

Today I want to talk about Bellingham’s The Bernard Series Small Barrel SMV 2014.  A blend of 87% Shiraz, 10% Mourvèdre and 3% Viognier, the grapes came from three separate vineyards on a single farm in the Agter Paarl. Planted on trellis in decomposed granite with an overlay of clay which allows for good water retention.

Careful selection at hand harvesting of bunches and then berries in the cellar took place before the three varieties were co-fermented. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel and then the wine was matured for a further 14 months in French oak barrels before being prepared for bottling.

It looks like
Bottled in a Burgundy shaped bottle under a natural cork closure. Elegant understated label.  In the glass, an opaque deep plum in colour which pales out to crimson garnet at the meniscus.

It smells like
Aromas which follow on to the palate, berries cherries, dark chocolate and red and purple flowers.

It tastes like
All the above in an iron hand velvet glove of a wine.  Big, bold, generously fruited.  Sappy finish with tannins, oak and acidity all beautifully interwoven.

Some of the early Bellingham Wines

Bellingham The Bernard Series, Basket Press Syrah 2015

The Bellingham The Bernard Series, Basket Press Syrah 2015 contains 2% Viognier which was co-fermented with the Syrah. Same vineyard and cellar harvesting procedures as for the above wine. The Syrah came from block yielding a low 4 – 8 tons, trellised vines plated in shale covered in decomposed granite.  Natural fermentation with the vineyards yeasts took place in 500 litre open topped French oak barrels.  Gentle pressing in a basket press was followed by malolactic fermentation and then then a year in Frensh oak barrels before the wine was prepared for bottling.

Niël getting a feel of fermenting grapes

It looks like
Bottled in a Burgundy shaped bottle under a natural cork closure. Elegant understated label.  In the glass, an opaque deep plum in colour which pales out to crimson garnet at the meniscus.

It smells like
Great aromas, the plums and berries and a grind of pepper that you expect. Oak in undertow supporting the generosity of rustic brambley berries.

It tastes like
Big. But. Elegant, dignified and refined. A true gent of a wine. Massive berry and plum fruits, fynbos herbaceousness, rich dark chocolate, delicate brush of oak in support of the generous fruit, acidity and long tail.

Alida Ryder’s Lamb Ragu with Cauliflower Gnocchi

Both wines are good with
They long for richly flavoured dishes like duck, game birds, beefy casseroles, roasted pork neck with an oven roasted tomato addition.  While they would both love to accompany a traditional Sunday Roast lunch with the real gravy, the rustly roast potatoes, they would be happy with the simplest of well-cooked weeknight supper when the pressures of the day make you feel like a superb bottle. Alida Ryder’s Lamb Ragu with Cauliflower Gnocchi would be great for a Monday evening supper.  Click here for her recipe.

Behind the lens
Alida Ryder

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