Recently the restaurant at Opstal Wine Estate – sitting in the valley underneath the Slanghoek mountains – played host to an evening of fresh, inspiring food and wines from the Breedekloof Valley. Guests were treated to four courses, created by British chef Matt Manning, and with each course sampled between two and four wines from the valley’s wine producers – a truly interactive dinner experience, as wines were compared and contrasted against each other and with the food.
Breedekloof Wine Valley, bordered by the Slanghoek and Du Toit’s mountains. Formally declared a wine district in 2003, it’s a strong contender for the title of most beautiful Cape wine region and referred to as ‘the valley of the slow ripening vine’. Legend has it that back in the 1920s, the raisins of Cinsault (Pinotage’s mom) and Hanepoot (aka Muscat Blanc d’Alexandrie) from the area were shipped to the USA during prohibition, where they were secretly turned into wine by adding water and yeast.
One hour’s drive from Cape Town down the N1. The valley lies north and south of Rawsonville, close to Worcester.
Why (Breedekloof Valley is special)…
Slow ripening vines – owing to alkaline soils and relatively cool temperatures – and a late harvest allow for maximum flavour development in the grapes.
Winter snow means buds break late, allowing for good dormancy, which is needed to keep vines healthy, rather like a good night’s sleep.
Varied soil types allows for a greater variety of wine styles.
Daytime temperature variation has a positive effect on acid (cool temperatures balances it) and sugar (warm temperatures help sugar development). Acid and sugar contribute to both a wine’s taste and its ageability.
Livia’s Laughter, Lateganskop Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2011 – sublime MCC that is modestly rich on the palate with a stunning finish. Perfect for those averse to the usual dry character of an MCC.
Deetlefs Pinotage Rose
Goudini Chenin Blanc 2014
Bergsig Weisser Riesling 2013 – A complete stunner of a Riesling that rivals anything from Germany’s Mosel Valley. Off-dry, with that typically Riesling kerosene nose, nectarines on the palate. Probably one of the best Weisser Rieslings in SA.
Goudini UnWooded Chardonnay 2014
Opstal Carl Everson Chenin Blanc 2013 – gorgeous wooded Chenin, off-dry and full of caramel, almonds and grapefruit flavours.
uniWines Daschbosch Exanimo (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon blend) 2013
Badsberg sur lie Chardonnay 2012
Botha Pinotage 2012 – very subdued Pinotage that comes alive when enjoyed with a succulent lamb dish.
Bergsig Pinotage 2012
uniWines Groot Eiland Ruby Cabernet – delicious combination of black fruit and greenness. Better on its own rather than with food.
Goudini Merlot Ruby Cabernet 2013
Note, Ruby Cabernet = Cabernet Sauvignon (quality and fruitiness) + Carignan (from the Mediterranean, resistant to hot temperatures)
Botha Hanepoot 2013
Lateganskop No. 102 Hanepoot 2013 – think Crème Brulee in liquid form yet with enough acidity to make it fly. The star of the dessert wines that was a perfect match for both the savoury cheese dish and the sweet lemon mousse.
Slanghoek Red Muscadel 2014
Huge thanks to all the organisers, the wine estates, Matt Manning and his team, and the staff at Opstal who kept the many guests topped up with food and wine.
Photography Caroline Knight