Top 10 Chenin blanc Awards at Delaire Graff

Chenin Blanc could be the wine that defines South African wines worldwide and seeing the huge advances in quality, style, sophistication and good marketing of the winners this year, it is possible to believe that this might happen soon.  IF ONLY we had government support to promote SA wines overseas.  Standard Bank are the involved sponsors of these awards and do a very good job to see that their support goes not just into the awards but into the community.  Each of the top 10 wines were awarded R20,000 with the proviso that this money is used in their local community for upliftment.  And there are some very good initiatives. The Awards were followed by an excellent lunch produced by Exec Chef Christaan Campbell who gave us 5 courses, each perfectly matched to two of the winning wines.Arriving on a really stormy dayWe assembled in the LoungeDrinking some bubblies made from Chenin Blanc and standing next to a lovely roaring fireCanapes came around. These were small choux buns filled with a butternut pureeGeneral Manager of Delaire Graff Johann Laubser chatting to Christine Rudman and Lacea Smit of SpierAnother tray of delicious canapés. These delicious deep fried rosti balls were stuffed surprisingly with lovely smoked troutThe crowd swellsThese were the Bubblies we were drinking, all made from Chenin blanc by the Methode Cap ClassiqueAnother very interesting canapé.  A firm cone stuffed with beef tartare and topped with sour cream  Some found this a little difficult to eatJournalist Norman McFarlane with David Sonnenberg, owner of DiemersfonteinExecutive Chef Christiaan Campbell with Ilse Distin, DGR Restaurant Reservations ManagerShanté Hutton in her snood with Mike Bampfield DugganChairman of the Chenin Blanc Association, Ken Forrester opens proceedingsWe are all awaiting the names of the top 10 CheninsWinnie Bowman CWM with Mark Norrish, Ultra Liquors Wine selectorA table full of winners and mediaThese were the interesting accompaniments to bread: a thick Mushroom paté, fresh labneh cheese, flake salt and black pepper and beef dripping with, possibly, a truffle aromaChristian Eedes announces the awardsThe mainstay of the Chenin Blanc Association, the person who quietly and with great assurance makes things happen, Ina SmithAll the award winners in a group shotThe very interesting menu could then be handed out because it contains the list of the winners; two of each were served with the five coursesA cold smoky umami broth containing balls of very fresh raw tuna, a pineapple mousse and herbs.  This perfectly picked up the nuances of the two supporting wines even if the cold broth was not universally appreciated.   We had tasted the Perdeberg this week, before the awards and we knew when we did that this was an award winning wine.  It performs far, far above its class.With the glasses required for every course, our tables became quite crowded. Most people only sip the wines but you do want to return to them later, to see how they have opened up or how they go with different dishesA perfectly cooked piece of rare and tender quail on a bed of creamy millet accompanied by a quenelle topped with toasted almond. We almost never see millet these days so this was refreshing and has inspired some of us to find some.The next course was of cured oysters served with fresh de-skinned peas and broad beans, with pea shoots and flowers in an oyster broth Lynne’s alternative was a beautiful thick slice of smoked salmon served in a similar waySimonsig wine maker Hannes MeyerOur table companions were Reinhilde and her husband winemaker Christaan Visser, both of VillieraCraig Polkinghorne Head of Business Banking at Standard Bank told us what the winners were going to do with their awards to improve their local community.  Many were contributing to the Pebbles Project which works with children affected by alcohol. Others were supporting local schools and crèches and renovating workers restrooms, supporting local schools with container classrooms, computers, printers, buses and trucks to get kids and supplies to school, after school homework and other projects and Villiera are supporting a school leavers project to make sure they get trained and get jobs.  The money is obviously being used wisely and carefullyJohan van Wyk, Western Cape Provincial Director at Standard Bank GroupKen Forrester thanking the sponsors, Standard BankWe don’t have a photograph of the main course of Happy hog pork belly and neck served with apple, pear and parsley but of special note were the small compressed green apple balls which added so much perfume and flavour to the dish and cut through the lovely rich pork so wellAnd finally dessert . And cleverly, because we did not have any sweeter Chenins, Christiaan served a savoury ‘dessert’. A Huguenot cheese brulée with salted pecan nuts and flavours of minneola oranges as a purée dotted on the plateThe Chef and the Organiser! Both talented peopleAlthough the weather was awful and we were hit with a huge storm during lunch the views were superbSunlight and rain hitting the mountain and vineyards of Thelema across the valleyAnd as we left, the sun came out,  highlighting the new spring bud break on the vines. A lovely eventThe Top 10 wines are listed below, followed by the cellar door price and an extract from the panel’s tasting report:·         Bellingham The Old Orchard’s 2013 (R95) – “Rich and ripe”;·         Kleine Zalze Family Reserve 2013(R141) – “Very stylish”;·         KWV The Mentors 2012 (R160) – “Concentrated and pure”; ·         Perdeberg The Dry Land Collection Barrel Fermented 2013 (R73) “A powerful but well balanced wine”;·         Remhoogte Honeybunch Reserve 2013 (R150) – “A good line of acidity ensures balance”;·         Rijk’s Cellars Private Cellar 2009 (R130) – “A blockbuster”;·         Simonsig Chenin Avec Chêne 2010(R110) – “Really well executed”;·         Spier Woolworths Private Collection 2013 (Woolworths price: R109.95) – “Totally seductive”;·         Stellenrust 2014 (R44) – “Really flavourful”; and·         Villiera Traditional Barrel Fermented 2014 (R94.50) – “Shows real finesse and balanceRETURN TO MENU© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014