Sauvi­gnon at its best


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD TASTE - MYRNA ROBINS

IN THE airy tast­ing room at Buiten­verwacht­ing, Ger­man, French and English could be heard as vis­i­tors ques­tioned staff, swirled and sipped and swopped opin­ions.

Seated at a ta­ble, Lars Maack kept one eye on his two hand­some ridge­backs which were sto­ically en­dur­ing close at­ten­tion from two small girls. We were com­par­ing the es­tate’s sauvi­gnon blancs – the 2010, a Con­stan­tia clas­sic with goose­berry and green cit­rus ahead of a dry fin­ish, and the pa­tri­cian Hussey’s Vlei, a sin­gle vine­yard sauvi­gnon of im­pres­sive qual­ity.

Al­ready show­ing a min­eral core be­hind ap­peal­ing aro­mat­ics, this is a wine that de­serves to be al­lowed to ma­ture for a few years, when it is sure to be sen­sa­tional.

“We sell only the best sauvi­gnon we pro­duce,” said Maack, and that amounts to 20 per­cent of pro­duc­tion. The rest finds its way into that peren­nial favourite, Buiten Blanc (R45), where about 80 per­cent sauvi­gnon is blended with chenin, semil­lon and viog­nier.

Maack poured his caber net sauvi­gnon 2006 and said: “This has opened up and is ready to drink, al­though it has not reached its peak yet.” It is a seam­less com­bi­na­tion of fresh­ness and fruit, tan­nic back­bone and sub­tle oak. While the 2007 vin­tage of Chris­tine – the flag­ship blend of cab with cab franc and petit ver­dot – has just been re­leased, it’s clear that he hopes con­sumers will hold it, or at least some of it, to let it reach its po­ten­tial.

The es­tate’s 2010 sauvi­gnon blanc, 2006 cab and ir­re­sistible mus­cat dessert 1769 were served at a mem­o­rable din­ner in Mu­nich last month. Or­gan­is­ers Din­ers’ Club had to per­suade Lars to at­tend, as he had re­cently re­turned from a trip to Europe. Only when seated, not­ing his ta­ble com­pan­ions sip­ping his wine, did the penny drop. He was pre­sented with the Winzer des Jahres award, the first per­son out­side Europe to win this award.

Back home, as cus­to­dian of this his­toric and beau­ti­ful es­tate, Maack can be proud of achieve­ments in cel­lar, en­vi­ron­men­tal prac­tices and so­cial up­lift­ment. And the farm is a des­ti­na­tion for all tastes and purses. Along with care­ful restora­tion of the manor house, old slave quar­ters and orig­i­nal wine cel­lar, mod­ern struc­tures house a state-of-the-art cel­lar and renowned res­tau­rant, where chef Edgar Oso­jnik prac­tises his brand of cre­ative gas­tron­omy.

His con­ti­nen­tal back­ground is ev­i­dent, even as he cel­e­brates Asian trends and adds South African touches. Gourmets rel­ish his nup­tials menu where es­tate wine en­hances starters such as steamed cray­fish with yuzu foam and a shooter salad; and a main course of im­pala loin glazed with sour figs and sauced with rose­hip jus.

Veg­e­tar­i­ans have their own menu to savour. Among the imagi- na­tive fi­nales is braised quince on a spec­u­laas cookie with vanilla pecan ice cream. This is the place to share the news that Buiten­verwacht­ing of­fers a su­perb grappa (made from sauvi­gnon blanc skins) and an aro­matic pear di­ges­tif.

Sun­day lunch buf­fets with live jazz re­quire book­ing, and the menu of starters, sal­ads, main cour­ses and side dishes, cakes and desserts is tempt­ing and var­ied. Oso­jnik also of­fers a tapas se­lec­tion from noon to 3pm. The menu is not limited to Span­ish snacks, but of­fers mini por­tions of clas­sics like fish and chips. Fi­nally, pic­nics on the oak-fringed lawns are as pop­u­lar as ever, and re­quire early book­ing.

TIME­LESS EL­E­GANCE: Buiten­verwacht­ing is in a beau­ti­ful set­ting and is a des­ti­na­tion for all tastes and purses.

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