For a top-class Cap Classique one’s thoughts turn to oysters and caviar and other not exactly inexpensive foods. I tend to think of whitebait, or a little tranche of creamy goat cheese. I remember sitting on a large, shaded balcony at Quinta del Bom Retiro up in the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal some years ago. It was late afternoon and our hosts grandchild had been christened an hour or so earlier. His wife served some large juicy green olives and a large bowl of roasted and lightly salted almonds, with the view, the company and the conversation, the partnership was perfect. It was good with a slice of the christening cake as well. This fillet of cured Norwegian Salmon is the perfect snack partner, perhaps before dinner watching the sun go down.
My Fresh Norwegian Salmon cured with Grappa
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Curing time: 18 hours
Salmon is such a perfect starter for a meal. Gravlax is usually cured with dill, salt and sugar, here’s another way to do it. You need to start in the morning of the day before you wish to eat it.
Serve it with slices of crisp sourdough toast and a salad into which you have sliced a head of fennel.
What you’ll need
1 kg fresh Norwegian salmon – preferably the centre of the fillet, skin on
2 Tbs fennel seeds
2 Tbs coriander seeds
1 Tbs white peppercorns
1 Tbs black peppercorns
160ml flakes of sea salt
75ml light brown sugar
75ml white sugar
125ml grappa or lemon vodka or citrus gin
What you’ll do
Prepare the salmon by slicing just through the skin in lines across the fish about 3cm apart – don’t cut too deep. Have ready a large platter with sloping sides on which to cure the fish. In a small frying pan heat the seeds until warm and then give them a good bashing in a pestle and mortar with a little of the salt to break them up. Stir in the remaining salt and the sugar. Sprinkle a little of the spice mix onto the skin side of the fish and onto the platter. Give the platter a sprinkling of grappa and place the fillet on top. Cover the fish with the remaining spice mixture and sprinkle over the grappa. Cover with clingwrap and place a board on top with weights on it [a couple of tins is fine]. Leave in the fridge for about 8 hours, then turn the fish over, cover and weight it again, and leave for another 8 – 10 hours. When ready to serve remove the clingwrap and wipe the excess spices off the fish. Slice very thinly onto a platter and serve with toasted sourdough and the fennel infused salad, and glasses of Cap Classique.
This Cap Classique is in the style of a Cremant de Loire, as it contains Chenin Blanc. The blend is led by 64% Chenin (Stellenbosch), 30% Chardonnay (Elgin) & 6% Cabernet Franc (Stellenbosch).
In the cellar Morné Vrey and his team whole bunch pressed the Chenin Blanc & Chardonnay producing 450 litres per ton and the Cabernet Franc producing 150 litres per ton. Separate fermentation of the base wine took over two weeks, after which the wines were blended. The second fermentation, in the bottle, took place for 7 months after the blending. Wine was then aged for 15 months on the lees before dégorgement.
From a traditional Champagne shaped bottle, closed with natural cork and the little wire muzzle. The label is simple and elegant. In the glass, the wine is a pale lemon gold in colour with lime green flashes when held up to the light. The aromas of crushed cape gooseberries, melon and windfall citrus are found on the nose, while the palate has a brisk line of acidity running through it from entry through the rich and generous mid-palate into the fresh, long and gently waning aftertaste. The fine bubbles which rush headlong to the top of the glass and form a little crown around the edges, enliven the wine with its lime curd and vanilla. An impressive glass.
The Sunrise Cap Classique nv is a limited production wine, only available from the Estate and its online store – https://shop.delaire.co.za/. There is currently a 15% discount available on 12th to 14th and 25th to 28th February.
Read more about Delaire Graff Wine Estate and its Wine & Hospitality offerings – CLICK HERE