Durbanville Hills – Johannesburg – July 2015

We are living in a world that can best be described as “transitionary”.  Evidence for this is rife – just drive down the street, and you’ll see new buildings being erected in the place of those we deem to be old, out-dated and dysfunctional. I sometimes need to remind myself how things around me looked only 5 years ago. The other day I even caught myself saying to my younger companion how different a specific place looked “when I was younger”… These words still ring somewhat off-key in my head. You see, it made me very aware of how quick time passes. And that nothing is sacred anymore. Everything needs a “make-over”. If it’s not my street, then it’s my nose. We seem to nip, tuck, cut & colour away any evidence of yesterday – and more importantly – of the passing of time.

Conceptually, my elaborate argument about change is obviously flawed. Stringing together how we are changing our world with how much we want to retain our youth seems counter intuitive.  Apparently change in our environment (making it fresh and new) coincides with “freezing” ourselves into how we look in a specific point in time.  Our quest to optimize is inextricably linked to our awareness of the unstoppable passage of time. Herein however lies the big contradiction (according to me, anyway). We drive change, but also resist it. We want new, more & better innovation, but simultaneously we try to create a pause-button” for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not on a rant and rave about the ‘evils’ of change at all.  I just realized how interconnected these seemingly opposing concepts actually are. Let me explain… The last CWWU event in Joburg was held at the Butchers Block, in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rosebank.  Not having been in Rosebank for quite some time, I was absolutely amazed at the change taking place in this suburb – most of which came about in a relatively short few years. Rosebank has been, figuratively spoken, given a make-over. The changes are dramatic, if not utterly pleasant. Despite the obvious alterations, the suburb has retained its leafy, old world charm – but lost its grime. This spoke loudly to me. Although much has transformed, and several happy memories that were tied to old places are lost forever, it still felt like Rosebank (before the decay of the late nineties, early 2000’s). Having chosen this setting, the selection of great wine became an imperative. Wine – ah! – that excellent example of unwavering continuity (considering consumption over millennia!) & unwavering change (considering approach to wine-making). Wine, with its rejuvenative qualities that can assist in our quest for eternal youth.  Besides the glorious taste of it, wine is also remarkably healthy. Experts nowadays claim that it can protect us against a whole range of diseases. Desirable antioxidants in a glass of red can for example protect us from the horrors of aging. However. Wine is the Janus of consumables. With the good, there is also the bad. Over consumption can negate all the good it wrought. But I guess that’s the point. Very little aspects of life are all good, or bad. Just so, would it seem that not all changes are good, or evil. Hence I can freely say that wine is neither just good, nor bad. The key to all of this is how we approach these things…

Being the ever optimistic wine-lover that I am, the evening of our event held in this wonderful chosen environment, at the Butchers Block quickly erased all nagging thoughts about moderation. Our picked wine cellar for the evening, Durbanville Hills is a true bastion of overwhelming history. It consists of nine member farms, all located near the cellar. The youngest of these farms, Klein Roosboom, was established in 1714 and the oldest in 1685. The Durbanville area is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc that excels under the conditions of the cool south facing slopes where it is grown, the range of red wines also benefit from the warmer valley outskirts and opposing northern slopes.

Our event was wrapped & served as a special Christmas in July feast, enveloped in the music provided by an old regular of ours – the very talented Jamie Lee from the Sextons.

As the guests arrived our welcome drink served was a Durbanville Hills Merlot Rose 2014. This wonderful Merlot has a wonderfully inviting pomegranate colour, excellent for a start to any festive evening because of its light body & fruitiness. On the nose it’s an enchanting mixture of ripe strawberries, red cherries and Turkish delight fragrances. The taste is quite invigorating and crisp with fresh summer fruit on the palate.

As the guests started to settle into the evening, wine-maker Martin Moore chatted about what happened this year with the 2015 harvest. The picture he painted of the wonderful Durbanville area, with its flowing hills, surely enlisted many of the guests to definitely pay this cellar a visit in the near future.

He was joined in welcoming the guests by Nico from the Butchers Block, who introduce the exquisite menu for the evening.

These formalities over, lead straight into our starter being served – namely the Rhinofields Chardonnay 2012. This full-bodied wine has received 3 accolades in its year of harvest, one of which was a bronze Veritas wine award. This Chardonnay has a light straw colour, with olive green tint. Its taste is full-bodied, with a creamy feeling on the palette. When you smell it, you are reminded of citrus fruit & apricots with spicy undertones. It was optimally coupled with Mozzarella cheese wrapped in bacon, oven baked and served with honey mustard dressing on a bed of arugula.

As preparation was made to serve the main course of the evening I must admit that I felt a bit worried. How could we possibly beat the high bar set by our starter combination? I needn’t have worried. The main meal consisted of rosemary grilled lamb rib rack served with creamy mint mashed potato, pan seared Mediterranean vegetables and gravy. Since this can be quite a hefty meal, rich in flavour & spicy herbs, we decided to couple it with a deep red, medium bodied Rinofields Merlot 2011. As things go at Durbanville Hills, this wine has also received 3 international accolades, not least of which was the 2013 Michelangelo International Wine Awards– Gold! This Merlots nose hinted of cherry and aniseed, mixed with sweet tobacco.

Writing these blogs, I often struggle to comprehend how quickly time flies when you’re having a truly enchanting time. Far too quickly we again arrived at the last order of business – although many would agree that dessert is possibly the most enjoyable part of eating and drinking. Dessert wines are always a treat to select, as they are a bit of a guilty pleasure. Sweet, with a light viscosity, the Rhinofields Noble late 2014 was a superb choice to end our evening on a high note. This Noble late harvest is a 100% Sauvignon Blanc, golden yellow in colour. Having won 4 accolades no-one could possibly argue this point! It has won the 2013 Veritas Wine Awards – Gold Medal, 2013 International Wine and Spirit Competition – Gold Outstanding, 2013 Michelangelo Awards – Grand d’Or (Double Gold) & 2013 International Wine and Spirits Awards – Gold Outstanding. You see? Nothing but the best to end of our evening… This was coupled with the Butchers Winter Mince Pie, served with sugar art, sugared orange and mandarin ice cream. Enough to give anyone fixated on the Banting diet nightmares. But truly a wonderful taste sensation. Highly recommended.

And so we came to the end of our Christmas in July event. Durbanville Hills & the Butchers block have ingrained themselves into our hearts and minds. And given me pause on my reminiscing about the fast pace of life & change. Truly great food, wine & company grounds you. And energizes you for the onslaught of life!

Written by Come wine with us JHB representative Etienne Fourie

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About Durbanville Hills

The unique location of Durbanville Hills’ cellar a mere 20 minutes from Cape Town’s city centre, offers not only a spectacular view of Table Mountain and Table Bay, but also an extraordinary terroir that stabilizes temperatures and eliminates extremes of heat and cold. Although the Durbanville area is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc that excels under the cool conditions where it is grown mostly on the cool south facing slopes, the range of red wines also benefit from the warmer valley outskirts and opposing northern slopes.

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About Butchers Block

Butcher Block offers an intimate and relaxing dining experience. The restaurant has the most succulent, tender and flavoursome steaks. Every steak served undergoes a specialised ageing process to ensure texture, flavour and colour. The meat is supplied by Chalmar Beef, one of South Africa’s top meat suppliers, and only AAA Grade cuts are served. The menu ensures that every taste is catered for by offering seafood, poultry and traditional venison dishes alongside the star attraction – exceptional quality steaks.

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