If you’re stumped for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, why not make a quick stop at Stellenbosch wine icon, Lanzerac Estate? A wine and chocolate pairing at the tasting room including a lazy lunch at the estate’s gourmet pub, Die Taphuis, is the perfect remedy for those ‘bored stiff’ weekends, as Anton Pretorius recently discovered.
Cheese and wine pairing has been around for decades, but now, it’s the turn of chocolate and wine to take centre stage.
And who doesn’t love a good wine and chocolate pairing? It combines two of life’s most delicious pleasures.
But pairing them can also elicit a challenge. Both offer intense flavours and complexity – a proper pairing can lead to Shangri-La while a poor pairing can result in a City Lodge experience in your mouth.
It’s well-known that a successful chocolate and wine pairing should be vivid, producing enhanced sensations and tastes across the palate, revealing hidden flavours in both, for the first time.
The 327-year old Lanzerac Wine Estate – nestled in the Jonkershoek Valley between the majestic Stellenbosch Mountains – is considered the ‘grand old lady’ of the Cape winelands.
Its tasting room offers five specially-made chocolates – made by well-known artisan chocolatiers Chocolats Marionnettes in Knysna – that’s expertly paired with five award-winning Lanzerac wines – the aim being to complement and bring out the flavours in both the wine and the chocolate.
My wife Niecole is a self-proclaimed ‘chocolate-connoisseur’ (what woman isn’t?) and jumped at the opportunity to get stuck in this highly-recommended tasting experience.
Sauvignon Blanc: The white peach and almond chocolate pairs superbly with the crisp, fruity and refreshing Lanzerac Sauvignon Blanc 2018. The chocolate cleverly manipulates the tasting notes of the wine and the slight saltiness of the chocolate counters the crispiness of the unwooded Sauvignon Blanc for a consistent and silky taste. The quality white chocolate perfectly complements the fresh, lemongrass mouthfeel of the wine, boasting subtle minerality and rounded off by a soft creaminess in the long finish due to extended lees contact. Cellar door price: R95 | Awards: Platter’s 2019 Wine Guide (4-stars)
Chardonnay: The white lemon and lime chocolate is paired with Lanzerac’s Chardonnay 2018. The full-bodied Chardonnay is a kaleidoscope of complexity and flavours including lemon, clover, ginger and vanilla. The gorgeous buttery notes of the Chardonnay were wonderfully exploited by the citrus flavours in the chocolate. The lime elevates the citrus notes of the wine and provokes a creamier, fruit-forward aftertaste, delivering an excellent balance between fruit, acidity and softness. Cellar door price: R135
Merlot: The indulgent pairing of the Lanzerac Merlot 2016 with a dark cherry and cigar chocolate caused an atom-sized sensory explosion of flavours in our mouths. The sweet, rich cherry-flavoured chocolate gave balance to the spicy and ubiquitous flavour of the Merlot. The Merlot, with its excellent deep red colour, boasts flavours of ripe red berries, cocoa, slight mint and chocolate on the nose with a well-balance tannin structure, rich fruity body and lingering aftertaste on the palate. This was (hands-down) my favourite pairing! Cellar door price: R170 | Awards: Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Awards 2018 *Gold & Platter’s 2019 Wine Guide (4-stars)
Pinotage: Lanzerac claims to be the first estate to bottle Pinotage in South Africa, and its premium Pinotage 2016 shows a wealth of experience with this South Africa variety that has become a national treasure. The wine with its velvet density and luxurious chocolate and caramel flavours – sporting a beautiful balance between fruit and wood – was an excellent pairing partner for the dark espresso and liquorice flavoured chocolate on offer. Cellar door price: R180
Cabernet Sauvignon: Lanzerac Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 came in a close second for my all-time favourite wine and chocolate pairing. This classic Cabernet shows inviting flavours of blackberry and youngberry with hints of cocoa, almond and cedar boasting excellent balance on the palate with a smooth lingering aftertaste. The wine was paired with a Cape Malay spice milk chocolate where the smooth, fruity finish of the Cabernet and the taste of cloves and cinnamon reminds you of Christmas. Cellar door price: R180 | Awards: Platter’s 2019 Wine Guide (4-stars)
A lazy, lavish lunch
After all the wine and chocolate, we needed something savoury and substantial to set us right. Lanzerac Estate has so much to offer that the Taphuis Bar is easily overlooked. This gourmet pub-style menu offers platters for sharing and light meals in a relaxed environment with beautiful country charm.
After most of the bar was lost in a fire in 2017, the new Taphuis was born and sports a much lighter and more modern look without losing that authentic, rustic feel.
After an extensive tour of the estate, we sat down to a hearty lunch. My wife ordered the marinated mussel pasta made with shallots, saffron butter, white wine, parmesan, courgette and wild garlic leaves (R140). Niecole says: “The dish was excellent. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauce was rich and creamy and the mussels were big and fresh. The portion was just right and really delicious.”
My lunch was the pan-fried line fish (Cape Salmon) with vetkoek, dill potato, warm tartare sauce and apricot glaze (R180). The fish was cooked to perfection and beautifully complemented by the dill potato, sweet vetkoek and tartare sauce. It was an intense fusion of flavours. The portion was just right – providing good value for money and not too heavy – making it the perfect lunch meal. I washed it all down with a glass of Lanzerac’s delicious Chardonnay 2018.
We couldn’t resist ordering from the equally appetising-looking dessert menu. Niecole ordered the Cape Malva Pudding with crème anglaise, apple, clotted cream ice cream, fudge crumble and gooseberries (R80). “The Malva pudding was absolutely perfect (not too moist, not too dry). The ice-cream complemented the honeycomb and the sauce was excellent with apple and cinnamon sprinkles on the side. Delicious!”
My desert was the Tonka Créme Brûlée with honeycomb, strawberry mouse and thyme ice cream (R80). What made this Créme Brûlée so special was the addition of the strawberry mouse, which really added another taste dimension to the dessert.
Our afternoon stop-off at Lanzerac was a really fantastic experience and a wonderful way to kill of a couple of hours when you’re stumped for a quick, four-hour hassle-free weekend activity. That said, our experience was just the tip of the Lanzerac iceberg as the estate offers a myriad of other relaxing and indulgent experiences. You’ll need at least a weekend or two to explore them all!
Visit www.lanzerac.co.za for more information.