Breedekloof hits the sweet spot

If the large crowd who gathered for the 2013 Breedekloof Food and Wine Pairing Gala Dinner at Cape Town’s Cullinan Hotel, is anything to go by, the wine industry at large is full of enthusiasm for the year ahead.

The Breedekloof, an hour’s drive from t he Mother City, includes 24 wineries in the Rawsonville, Slanghoek, Goudini and Breede River areas, and the aim of the dinner was to showcase the wines from these producers, both small boutique and large co-operatives.

A judging panel, headed up by well respected Cape Wine Master (CWM) Duimpie Bayly tasted more than 50 wines from the region to pair a flight with each course, prepared by Chef Neill Anthony. Fellow judges included journalist Maryna Strachan and three Cape Wine Masters, Dr Winifred Bowman, Elsie Pells and Ina Smith.

Bayly said that holding the dinner in the Breedekloof would be akin to preaching to the choir, “so we decided to start by spreading the word in Cape Town”. Plans are to possibly grow the dinner, sponsored by Santam and the Cape Winelands Municipality, to Johannesburg where, as Bayly observed, the money lives, along with lovers of fine food and wine.

Tsogo Sun group sommelier Miguel Chan, who flew in from Johannesburg to assist with pouring the wines, said the dinner was a great showcase for a region which has long been underrated. “Most of these wines are site specific, Wine of Origin Breedekloof, and as a sommelier that is a great help when you are explaining the wines to your guests,” he said.

michel chain Breedekloof hits the sweet spot

Tsogo Sun group sommelier Miguel Chan

The white wine flight had more success than the reds and my standout wine of the night was Deetlefs Estate De Hageveld 2011, a blend of blend of mostly Semillon, with Chardonnay and a splash of Sauvignon Blanc which had great body and peachy notes.

But it was the sweeties that had everyone crowing in agreement about how the climate in this region is perfectly suited to these babies. The Badsberg Badlese 2009, a natural sweet made from Chenin Blanc grapes (and white wine of the year in Platter’s 2012), was the obvious crowd pleaser but the Deetlefs Estate Soet Hanepoot 2009 and the Slanghoek Cellar Creme de Chenin 2010 also showed well.

Despite 17% of South Africa’s total wine production coming from the Breedekloof, the region remains largely un-commercialised and looks to be an ideal weekend getaway, with plenty of activities from wine festivals to fly fishing, mountain biking and river rafting – and with many bargain wine prices you can load up the boot and still come home with your wallet intact.