I recently attended a lunch at the lovely Catharina’s Restaurant on the Steenberg Wine Estate in the Constantia Valley. Granted in 1682 by Governor Simon van der Stel to the Widow Ras – she who had a husband killed by an elephant, another killed by a lion and a third by a spear from the arm of a local. As Oscar Wilde can be paraphrased, ‘to lose one husband is unfortunate, but to lose three is downright careless.’
Archie McLean, resident Chef, produced some fine dishes to match the wines. He did a stunning finale of a plate of the most blissful cheese. Archie announced each dish in his charming Scottish accent.
Elegant plate of cheese by Archie
The Steenberg Lady R 2011 Cuvée, is made by Cellarmaster JD Pretorius in the traditional French Champagne method of a second fermentation in the bottle and is designated Méthode Cap Classique in South Africa as we are not allowed to use the name Champagne which is geographically designated according to EU law.
Steenberg Wine Maker JD Pretorius
photo by Tim Atkin
The grapes were hand-picked at low sugar levels of 18.5 – 19°B and whole bunch pressed to extract the juice as gently as possible. This juice was low in phenols and high in natural acidity. The juice fermented with a strong yeast strain to form the base wine of the MCC. The Pinot Noir base wine has a delicate light pink colour with a fine strawberry flavour and makes up 70% of the blend. The remaining
30% is made up of barrel-fermented Chardonnay – fermentation takes place in previously used 600l French oak casks. The wines are blended then bottled with further yeast and a dose of sugar under crown cork. This second fermentation creates the bubbles (or mousse) of the MCC which during fermentation are forced back into the wine. 53 months was spent on the yeast lees before disgorgement in January 2016. The really lovely thing about this wine is that the final alcohol level is a low 11.5% by volume.
Bistro 1682 Chef Kerry Kilpin
It looks like
Packed under special cork and wire muzzle in a traditional Champagne shape bottle. Elegantly labelled. In the glass it is a pale yellow straw with a myriad of the tiniest bubbles rushing to for a crown round the top of the glass.
It smells like
Star King apples, honey brioche
It tastes like
Hugely refreshing. Unusual red fruits like poached rhubarb stems, desiccated raspberry. Fine fine wine with the most wonderful creamy texture aided by the bubbles. Complex layers. This wine is good for ageing if you cellar it properly.
Justine Wall’s Puff Pastry Swirls
It’s good with
Kerry Kilpin, the chef of the Bistro 1682 on the Estate has recently been to Spain and has some great new examples of Tapas. This wine is perfect for a no reason at all kind of occasion. It is good with cold seafood like poached prawns, sushi and of course oysters. If you are serving the wine as an aperitif, you might bake off a couple of Justine Wall’s Puff Pastry Swirls. Click here for her recipe.
Justine Wall in her Wiltshire Farm garden
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