Welcome to South Africa

July 30, 2016

Over the next two weeks I will not only be visiting numerous wineries or farms as they call them here but cooking at two prestigious pop up events. The first is on Friday 9th January at The Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, where 80 guests will be served a 6 course dinner matched with 12 premium wines blind from Australia and South Africa. The second dinner will be held at 96 Winery Road, in the company of Mr Chenin; Ken Forrester. Prior to that I have organised a tasting of South African Sparkling Wines, with one of Englands top Fizz, Sugrue Pierre, thrown into the mix, bringing together some of the Capes top tasters and Sparkling wines.

The welcome party on my arrival in South Africa was pretty special with Mr Bubbles, Pietre from Graham Beck, pouring not only his own top Bubbles, but a Balthazar of Billecart Salmon champagne that was at least 15 years old, still bright and delicate sparkle but showing pure class, biscuity and evolved with a clean depth of flavour a perfect tipple in the African sunshine amidst the Capes most famous winemakers.

South Africa is a very diverse and bounty full country excelling in producing superb wines that are gradually trickling through to the UK, this is my second visit here in the last 10 months and I continue to be delighted by the quality and styles that they can produce. Together with the exceptional exchange rate, this must surely be the finest commercial wine investment we have today in the world.

Jordan Wine Estate, where the above party was held to celebrate a couple of 50th Birthday Partys; Kathy Jordan and Neleen Strauss (High Timber Restaurant in London) continues to excel world wide, their Chardonnays especially hitting high marks such as the Nine Yards and CWG Reserve Chardonnay.

More importantly to the UK market they deliver wines of truly exceptional value and quality such as The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc, a partly barrel fermented wine that allows the fruit to shine and is a perfect wine for food, with Sauvignon Blanc becoming more serious and grown up this certainly fits into this category. The Prospector Syrah is a silky smooth, wild hedgerow berry wine that sinks away with ease, very controlled and easy on the palate. Both these wines deliver way above their price (AWB), are refined and pleasurable to drink especially with food where they work in tandem.

Gary Jordans family were famous in South Africa for shoes, although Gary himself studied Geology prior going on a two year trip ( mostly California) with Kathy to learn how to make wine. Ted and Sheelagh Jordan had bought the farm in 1982, and then started an extensive replanting programme. Gary and Kathy returned in 1992 making their first wine in 1993.

They are also involved in two restaurants one on the winery called George Jardine, and High Timber in the City of London. Both restaurants are bastions of fine wine and food, with High Timber under the direction of Neleen Strauss (she is a partner in the business) providing a huge repertoire of world class wines ( not only South African), and a special cellar of own label wines sought from the finest wine makers in the Cape. On the farm they had persuaded one of South Africa’s finest Chefs to set up his own restaurant there and not only is the food some of the best in the Cape but the views are also spectacular, due to demand, George has now expanded with a Bakery also on site, they also have a specialist Cheese cellar, definitely worth a visit.

Both Gary and Cathy glow with charitable support and encourage numerous projects, not least the latest which is the Jordan Women in Wine Initiative which supports the mentoring of women in the wine industry, each year supporting one from Africa and one international woman.

For those of you who followed my exploits in New Zealand and flying my own 2 seater plane, here to add a thrill after the late party at The Jordan Wine Estate saw me in this little helicopter flying high above Cape Town early the next morning, not the smoothest experience I have had.