In October, Jen and I had a girls’ night out. It being the two of us, the evening involved wine and food, quelle surprise! We attended the “Winemaker’s dinner with Thinus Krüger” at the Black Cat Bistro. Don’t feel bashful if you don’t recognize the name as he was a long way from home. Thinus is a South African winemaker and he arrived in Ottawa in late fall, no coat, wearing thin cotton trousers, a short-sleeved shirt, and canvas slip-ons. The mother in me wanted to tell him to put on a sweater. The Canadian in me felt sorry for him when he told us his next stop was Edmonton!
South Africa consumes much of the wine it produces and, while its wines are available in Canada, they are not seen in the same quantities as Italian or French wines. The prices are also a little higher, usually in the twenty dollar range. But they make wonderful wines and I encourage people to try them, there are hundreds to choose from.
We were served seven wines with five courses and I thoroughly enjoyed everything: the wines were lovely (I discovered some unknown gems), the food yummy, the pairings successful, and I got to know Jen better (and hear stories about the absent member of foodiePrints!).
Sticking to the wines, in the whites I loved the Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2008. This was paired with a Seared Scallop Amuse. (According to Thinus, scallops are one of his favourite foods, but not available in South Africa; he claimed he would have them for breakfast. Might be hard to explain the wine, though, first thing in the morning.). The Chardonnay was oaked, but the wood was not the focus. There was lemon zest on the palate, a nice minerality to balance out the green fruit, and a hint of oak to support the wine. It was very nice and paired beautifully with the scallop and crème fraîche. It is available at the LCBO for $15.95. I think it would make a lovely host gift or served with lemon chicken, a white fish, or with cheese and nuts.
Another smashing combination was a Boschendal “The Pavillon” Shiraz Cabernet 2009 with a Duck Confit Salad with honey & crispy shallots. I realise that I am biased when it comes to duck (anyone who reads my tweets will know my position on duck), but this was phenomenal. The wine’s light spiciness contrasted with sweetness of the duck without overpowering the greens. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be available at the LCBO. But the Brampton Shiraz 2007 is at $15.95 and it would be equally good.
My brother-in-law is building himself a wine cellar in his basement, claiming it as the first step in his “man cave” (as mid-life crisis go, this one strikes me as a win all around). He recently asked me if I came across a reasonable wine with aging potential, to let him know. The Boschendal Grande Reserve 2008 is a Cabernet Sauvignon from a single vineyard, fermented for two days before pressing, and aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. A very deep red in colour, this wine was paired with Grilled lamb. Overall, I found this wine to be too young to drink now and too heavy on the alcohol and oak to serve with lamb. But this wine will age and age well, I think. It has only just been released by Boschendal. Should you be able to get a few bottles, I think it will be inexpensive wine to age for 5 years or more.
Now to the most important wine: the one served with dessert! Jen and I had different desserts due to a most tragic chocolate allergy; I’ll have to leave it to her to describe her pairing. For me, the Dark Chocolate Pavé with Crème Anglaise with the Boschendal Vin d’Or 2008 was perfect. This dessert wine, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Roussane and Grenache Blanc, was a light whiskey colour (sounds so much better than the colour of apple cider) with honey on the nose. In the mouth, there was a hint of botrytis, a light sweetness without being cloying, with an acidity to balance it out. My notes on the pairing are “fabulous” and “very rewarding”. Thinus told us that we were only the second group to taste this wine (I tried to not take offence at not being first) and that it was a lot of fun to make. (I’m thinking all wine is fun to make!).
Thinus Krüger was young, engaging, and very entertaining. His enthusiasm for food was delightful and his informative wine patter added to the evening. To my “May I ask you a question?”, his response: “Only if you answer mine. Why do two women go out to dinner with cameras?” Isn’t it obvious?
My only complaint of the evening was that Jen, who is clearly not the drinker I am, did not finish all her wines… and I didn’t think it quite apropos to reach over and down them!
Black Cat Bistro
428 Preston Street
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 5 – 10 pm