Tag Archives: elgin ridge

Monty Waldin Biodynamic Guru

Monty Waldin
Monty Waldin

When biodynamic guru Monty Waldin came to Elgin Ridge in April this year, he suggested that we look into adding a new element to our biodynamic practices…in the form of a cow. Little did we realise some five months later that Elgin Ridge would become home to a small, yet very precious herd of Dexter cattle.

The end goal of Monty’s suggestion to get a cow, was the creation of a cow pat pit. In the pit the cow manure is mixed with biodynamic preparations and allowed to ferment. After some time this mixture, now abounding with natural enzymes and bacteria, is applied to the soil. This process greatly complements our existing organic practices by increasing microbial activity and the overall health of the soil.

After Monty’s visit and an extensive amount of research, I decided that Dexter was the breed for Elgin Ridge. Dexter are a naturally small breed of cows that are known for their docile nature and calm temperament. What was even more charming about these cows, and which appealed to me sentimentally – I’m Irish and my grandfather had a cattle farm in Ireland – is that they are an old Irish breed. The choice could not have been more fitting!

Amber
Amber

First to join the Elgin Ridge family Queen and Alice. Soon after was Ruby – a rare, red polled (hornless) dexter, who much to our delight gave birth to her calf, Amber, in early September. Last week we purchased Molly, a black Dexter, who is also nursing a calf and a bull names Monty

So, not only is our little herd thriving but also thanks to Ruby and Molly, who are providing our pat pit with the best possible manure considering they are nursing, so is our pat pit and soil and ultimately our preparations for our 2013 vintage.

Marion

To read more about Monty Waldin see his latest book

Elgin Ridge and the Cape South Coast

Original article by TV masters of wine, Susie & Peter, view Susie and Peter’s website

Cape South Coast by Peter

The New World’s ongoing quest for elegance, complexity and drinkability in its top wines – both white and red – has often led to the sea.

The briney’s cooling, moderating influence tends to give longer hang time, lower alcohol levels and altogether more rewarding wines than hot inland areas in warm countries.

True, the viticulture can be more challenging, the land costlier, the risks higher – but the finest wines have always come from marginal climates and risky, challenging endeavours.

In this context, it was fascinating recently to taste a range of wines (100, to be precise) from South Africa’s newly created Cape South Coast appellation. To clarify – these aren’t all newly created producers or wineries (many of them already have an impressive track record). It’s simply the umbrella appellation that’s new, to take in a number of smaller wine areas along the cape’s south coast (namely Cape Agulhas, Overberg, Plettenberg Bay, Swellendam and Walker Bay districts as well as the Herbertsdale and Stilbaai East wards).

Phew.

As for the wines, it was Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah that most impressed, with Pinot Noir more variable (as it tends to be, especially when some vineyards are young) but seeming to have a bright future. The names that most impressed were Paul Cluver (whites), Brunia, Ataraxia, Hamilton Russell, Beaumont, Luddite and Catherine Marshall. The overall standard was very creditable and disappointments were few, though Bouchard Finlayson deserves a reprimand for consistently bland, underwhelming wines.

Top tips are featured below.

Tasting notes (from 18th July 2012)

Paul Cluver Riesling 2010, 11.3%, Elgin (£10.99-11.99, Halifax Wine, SA Wines Online, D Byrne, SH Jones, Oxford Wine Co) – lovely clean, crisp, succulent style – well rounded, with defined red apple flavours. Lovely stuff, delicious. (The Close Encounter Riesling, a touch pricier but also lovely, is also worth a try.) 7/10

Brunia Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 13.5%, Walker Bay (£8.95, The Wine Society) – complex, mineral, layered flavours. Understated but vibrant too. Juicy grapefruit and pear flavours, with ripe citrus acidity. Elegantly textured, very long. (The 2011 is also tasting very nicely too.) 6.5-7/10

Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 13%, Walker Bay (£11.49, Wimbledon Wine Cellar, Waitrose) – effortlessly elegant and engaging. Rounded, mineral and with beautiful earthy citrus character. Hint of honey together with a refreshing sea-spray freshness. Puts other ‘wannabe’ wines into context. 7/10

Elgin RidgeElgin Ridge ‘282’ Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 14%, Elgin (£12.99, Les Caves de Pyrene, Green & Blue, Bedales, Wine Direct) – succulent, mineral – layered and long. Very well judged, albeit in a ‘bigger’ style, with flavours of roasted lemon and peas. 7/10

Shannon Sanctuary Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2011, 13.5%, Elgin (£13.32, SA Wines Online) – aromas of anis, wax, herbs and lime rind. This has a touch of Semillon, which adds this complexity and pithy character. Succulent and complex, lovely stuff. 7/10

Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc 2012, 13.5%, Western Cape (£15) – a really classy wine, with subtle but profound flavours of ripe citrus, honey, grapefruit and roasted herbs. Dense, graceful and complex. Very good. 7.5/10

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2011, 13%, Hemel-en-Aarde (£21.99, Quaff, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods) – benchmark stuff from this reputable producer. It’s bright and characterful, with aromas of melon and burnt cream, but also well grounded with a ripe lemony acidity and mineral notes. 7/10

Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir 2010, 14%, Elgin (£14.20-15.20, Tanners, SH Jones, VIvat Bacchus) – pale, limpid, elegant style. Earthy and cultured, with scents of wild berries and warm clay. Very nice. 6.5-7/10

Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, 14.5%, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (£29.49, Quaff, Planet of the Grapes, Fortnum & Mason) – effortlessly elegant in the context (older vines?) with earthy, herbal, berry fruit aromas and a dense, polished, refined palate. Still a big style but lovely harmony. 7.5-8/10

Luddite Shiraz 2006, 14%, Bot River (£26.49, Les Caves de Pyrene, Green & Blue, Roberson, Bordeaux Index) – elegant peppery, spicy style with a juicy flavour profile. It’s relatively broad and spicy in style but elegant too. 6.5/10

Brunia Shiraz 2010, 13.5%, Walker Bay (£12.50) – toasted, ashen, black pepper flavours and a smooth yet spicy flavour profile. Understated, good. 6.5/10

Ataraxia Serenity 2008, 14.5%, Western Cape (£13.95, Stone Vine & Sun) – elegant, leathery style. Baked herbs; serious, grown-up style, needs food. Broad, structured, very classy. 7/10

Elgin Ridge at The Test Kitchen – Cape Town

Original article by Terri Dunbar-Curran in Cape Times

INSTEAD of whipping up that old trusty vanilla sponge for your lunch guests this weekend, try something new with fresh seasonal produce. Now that apples and pears are in season, it’s the perfect time to whip up tasty tarts, crisp salads and baked goodies.

Tru-Cape decided to celebrate the season and the versatility of its apples and pears with a lunch at The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, where chef Luke Dale-Roberts created a variety of dishes featuring the fruit.

Sipping on apple bellinis  and Elgin Ridge Wines, guests tucked into a decadent lunch  of Abate Fetel Pear salad with parmesan, wild rocket and candied pecan nut brittle; braised pork belly with roasted baby Fuji apples stuffed with pork sausage mince and wrapped in bacon; and a syrupy Granny Smith tarte tatin.

The range of dishes you can create with fresh fruit are endless. So why not start with the humble, succulent pear?

Named after the Abbot who discovered the fruit in 1866, Abate Fetel pears are now available in supermarkets. They are usually exported and so are not often seen here, but because of over-supplied European markets, we have the chance to enjoy them too

It’s best to keep them in the fridge and eat them within a week, but when they start to lose their crispness, don’t get rid of them – add them to your favourite dishes.

To get you started here are a few tantalising recipes.

l For more recipes and information, see www.tru-cape.co.za

Green bean, bacon and pear affairGreen bean, bacon and pear affair

25g feta cheese, crumbled
50g pine nuts
60g streaky bacon cut into cubes
200g green beans
5ml olive oil
10ml unsalted butter
1 pear, cubed

  1. Remove the heads and tails of the green beans, cut them in half diagonally and steam for 5 minutes or until al dente.
  2. Add the pine nuts to a non-stick pan and toast over a high heat for 3 minutes, continually tossing them to prevent burning. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Heat the oil and 5ml of the butter in a non-stick pan, fry the bacon until crispy, drain on paper towel.
  4. Wipe the pan clean and heat the remaining butter. Add the pear and quickly fry for 1 minute.
  5. Pour the pear and the pan’s butter over the green beans, add the bacon and toss well.
  6. Sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts and crumble over the feta cheese.

Pear and blackberry tartsPear and blackberry tarts

50g butter, melted

50g blackberries, defrosted
30ml castor sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 pears, cored, peeled and sliced thinly (Use Abate Fetel, Beurre Bosc or Conference pears)
4 sheets of phyllo pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut the phyllo pastry into rectangles (12.5 cm x 11.5 cm).

    Brush half the pastry rectangles with butter and place the remaining pastry on top of the buttered pastry.

    Then brush the surface of the pastry with the beaten egg. Draw  a 1cm thick border with a sharp knife around the surface of the  pastry.

  3. Heat 25g of the butter over a medium heat in a saucepan, add the pear slices and gently fry for 1 minute on each side, then cool the slices slightly.
  4. Place the pear slices in the centre of the pastry, ensuring you do not go over the inner border. Brush the pear slices with the remaining melted butter and scatter the blackberries over the slices. Sprinkle over castor sugar and bake for 13 minutes.

Nutty Pear FoolsNutty Pear Fools

60g unsalted butter
100g nutty crunch biscuits, crushed
200g peanut brittle
80ml white sugar
250ml cream
250ml Greek yogurt
120ml boiling water
2 pears, peeled and cored, thinly sliced

  1. Melt the butter in a  saucepan and stir in the crushed biscuits.
  2. Beat the cream until stiff, and fold in the yogurt.
  3. Melt the peanut brittle over a low heat with the boiling water and sugar until melted and syrupy, stir in the pear slices.
  4. Layer the ingredients in the following order in a martini glass: biscuit, cream, pear slices, cream. Top with broken peanut brittle and a few pear slices.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Lunch with Jamie Goode at Kew’s Glasshouse

Original article by Jamie Goode on his Wine Anorak Blog

Lunch at the Glasshouse, Kew, with Brian and Marion Smith of Elgin Ridge
Glasshouse Pork Belly
Glasshouse Pork Belly

Kew’s Glasshouse has to be one of the best places to lunch in London. It’s the sister restaurant to the equally impressive La Trompette in Chiswick, and together this pair of gems gives those of us out west reason to feel grateful. They both possess brilliant wine lists alongside highly creative and utterly delicious cooking, and are very reasonably priced.

I was guest today of Brian and Marion Smith of Elgin Ridge, an exciting new producer in the Elgin region of South Africa. They moved there in 2007 after selling their Kingston-based IT business. They’d always wanted to do a vineyard project but it took them a while to decide where.

Initially they had thought about making sparkling wine in the south of England, but the land was just too expensive. Then they considered France, but found that the wine industry was in turmoil and most of the properties on the market were there because the people were struggling to sell their wine, and they were expensive to boot.

So they turned to South Africa, and a property in Elgin that ticked all the boxes. Marion had first visited Cape Town in 2002, and liked it so much she came home having brought a holiday flat. Brian visited in 2003 and while he was staying there tasted a Sauvignon Blanc that he liked so much (the debut vintage of Iona), he went to visit the owner, Andrew Gunn. They became friends.

Glasshouse Rabbit Cannelloni
Glasshouse Rabbit Cannelloni

The combination of affordable land, and knowing people there led to the purchase of an abandoned 10 hectare apple farm in 2007. ‘It turns out that we have wonderful soils,’ says Marion. ‘It turns out this was more luck than judgement,’ Brian adds. ‘It is great that we were able to plant from scratch.’

They have so far planted 4.5 hectares, with 3.5 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and half a hectare each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They are organically certified, and as of this year Marion – who looks after the vineyard – has decided to go biodynamic, a decision prompted by a visit from Monty Waldin. They have just bought two Dexter cows, to complement their ducks. ‘The dogs and cats don’t know what to make of them,’ says Brian.

Production is 15 000 bottles this year, rising to 20 000 next year. The goal is to peak at 40 000 bottles. Winemaking consultancy is from Niels Verburg, who was initially reluctant to fill this role, but has agreed to work for three years with Brian in the winery, with a view to handing over. Kevin Watt has assisted with the viticulture.

We didn’t try the Elgin Ridge wines. I tried them back in March, and was really impressed by the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which I rated as one of South Africa’s best. The Chardonnay 2010 was very good, but not quite in the same league. Brian and Marion had just returned from a spectacular-sounding tour of Burgundy, so they ordered a couple of Burgundies from the list with the help of sommelier Sara Bachiorri, who was really impressive – particularly in the way she dealt with the low level taint in one of the wines, insisting on opening a second bottle immediately.

And the food? I had an intruiging starter of rabbit cannelloni with cumin and carrot, peas, fèves and mustard velouté. The flavours really worked well together, and the presentation was excellent. The cumin gave it quite a spicy, almost Indian character. My main was simply majestic, and one of the best things I have eaten this year. Miso glazed pork belly with spring greens, shitake and pork pastilla, soy and enoki broth was both utterly delicious, but also full of interest. The pastilla worked really well with the super-tender, flavoursome belly pork strips.

Simon Bize Savigny Les Beaune 2008 Burgundy A cracking white Burgundy. Very fine, fresh, mineral, slightly matchstick nose is taut and inviting. The palate is fresh and nicely intense with lemony acidity and attractive minerality. Very focused, and delicious. Could even do with a year or two to open out more. Will last a lot longer. 92/100

Mugneret-Gibourg Vosne Romanee 2002 Burgundy This may be just a village level wine, but it’s fabulous, and in a great place now. Elegant, precise and mineral, yet generous with it. Some spicy, grainy, fine tannins under the red cherry fruit. Grippy, fine and expressive with hints of earth. Just so good for drinking now, but the structure suggests it will be even better in a year or two. 94/100