Hildenbrand Wines dazzle diners
The Food Lovers
Mick and I were invited to the stunning Cape Dara Resort for the latest in a series of South African wine dinners. These perennially popular dinners are held regularly to promote and educate us into the pleasures of South African wines. Sponsored by the South African-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Food Com (Thailand) Co. Ltd., Jubulani (a social organization to support and maintain a gateway for South Africans and friends living in Thailand) and on this occasion showcasing the wines from the distinguished Hildenbrand Wine & Olive Estate. Reni Hildenbrand, owner, vintner and creator of this famous winery, presided over the evening.
Cape Dara Resort is a fairly new addition to Pattaya’s portfolio of 5-star hotels. “Dara” means star and this resort displays not just one but a galaxy of star-studded assets. Set on the most southernly promontory of the Naklua peninsula the edifice rises 26 stories into the sky and offers incomparable vistas of Pattaya Bay. All 264 guest rooms, suites and villa compounds have open sky views giving spectacular glimpses in all directions.
Hildenbrand wines hail from the foot of the majestic Hawegua Mountains in the town of Wellington where wine maker Reni Hildenbrand has followed her childhood passion for wine making and has created something special at Klein Rhebokskloof, home to her Hildenbrand wines and olive oils. All wines in the range are vegan and vegetarian friendly and her artisan olive oils are sought after by oil connoisseurs across the world.
With the distinguished provenance of the winery it was with great expectations that we gathered on the terrace where we sampled the first pouring of the evening. Shiraz Rose 2011 was the chosen vintage and with its medium body, fresh raspberry and cherry flavours (with just a hint of spice) it made very good friends indeed with the salmon tartar canapés and perfectly launched the pageant of wines and dishes to come.
On behalf of the South African-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Alan Riddell, its director, and Linda Reay, chief of Jabulani and joint-venture partner, welcomed the assembled guests and fearless volunteers kicked off the evening with some resounding fanfares on the famous South African blowing horn – the vuvuzela.
First course was a delicious roast pumpkin, rocket, feta and pine nut salad served with a drizzle of that celebrated Hildenbrand olive oil. A delightful opener which complemented the much underrated Chenin Blanc which is a great shame as Hildenbrand wine makers have created a balanced fresh grassy wine with citrus freshness which was the perfect pouring to accompany the roasted pumpkin salad. The next course was grilled sea bass and prawn open ravioli with a lime, garlic and coconut milk sauce. The pairing for this course was a Chardonnay Barrique. An elegant pale gold wine that had been fermented and matured in French oak for nine months before a skilful blending of 1st and 3rd fill barrels to create a perfect harmony of fruit oak balanced with an extremely pleasant long linger. This was my favourite wine of the evening.
The big guns were now being brought out. Beef tenderloin served with a biltong cream on a potato rosti followed. Served with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, this robust big-hearted red was the perfect companion to the beefy rich flavours of the tenderloin. Desert followed in the shape of a coffee and vanilla panna cotta with flambéed black cherries. Accompanying this scrumptious dessert was an award winning Shiraz. Matured in Hungarian oak for 14 months this Shiraz displayed a deep purple colour with a taste of rich fruits and just a hint of oak.
The cheese course included board member Pasit Foobunma’s farm-produced goats cheese which was quite our favourite. Its mild nourishing taste was a marriage made in heaven with the Hildenbrand’s dessert wine, she named “Sleepless Nights” after tossing and turning for many a night trying to give the wine a name. It is a sweet (but not too sweet) charming late harvest Semillion with overtones of citrus, grass and honey which impeccably brought down the curtain on our most enjoyable evening of wining and dining, South African style.
A truly delightful experience and our thanks to Cape Dara for expertly hosting the event, chef Nicky Hobson-Grobler for having taken the Cape Dara chefs under her highly experienced wing in the execution of the South African inspired gourmet treats, and our thanks to Reni Hildenbrand for packing so much passion and sunshine into each bottle of her delicious wines.
For more information on Hildenbrand wines, go to www.wine-estate-hildenbrand.co.za.
Cape Dara Resort
Soi 20, Naklua Road
Tel: (038) 933 888