Goodness from the heart of the Swartland
What a pleasure to rediscover the Riebeek wine valley after our Covid-slumber and get right back on the Swartland Shiraz horse. The festive memories of this adored part of the Cape Winelands flashed back as olive trees, stretches of land, vineyards and grazing sheep darted by, and we turned into this quaint hamlet. It is hard to stay focused and do what you came for when little restaurants catch your eye, and friendly faces invite you for an olive oil tasting.
We were thrilled to be introduced to a new dynamic enterprise we have known as Riebeek Cellars, now standing tall as the Riebeek Valley Wine Co – a leading boutique Wine Service Company. As a coop established in 1941 and 22 families still delivering grapes today, they also collaborate with winemakers and producers on their own creative projects. As a result, wine lovers can revel in a curated selection of Swartland wines from their Riebeek Cellars Collections, limited releases, small-batch wines and nibble on local produce like cheese and olives visiting their Wine Tasting Emporium in the village.
Including Kasteelberg, Raar and the 22 Families Old Vine Project, we are excited to share some of our new finds in their stable with you in 2022.
Vineyards are situated between 60m to 300m above sea level, against the slopes and foothills of the Kasteelberg Mountain.
Guardians of the Swartland, the custodians of quality.
Riebeek Valley Wine Co. work closely with their producers to cultivate long-term, mutually beneficial relationships that ultimately produce great wines.
“Authentically W.O. Swartland, we have a passion for this rugged, unique landscape and for the people of the Riebeek Valley. We are committed to preserving the heritage we have in our Swartland vineyards by focusing exclusively on: Wine of Origin Swartland; continuously improving quality & sustainable production.” – The Riebeek Valley and Co wine team
FIVE TIPS FOR MATCHMAKING THE KASTEELBERG SHIRAZ WITH RED PEPPERCORN BRAISED LAMB SHANK, KEFIR YOGURT AND A SALAD OF CUCUMBER, ROCKET, FENNEL, MINT AND POMEGRANATE
- Shiraz is a pleasure for food and wine pairing as it is both generous and forgiving. Enjoy how the grated fennel bulb in the salad and the aroma of the wine both have a liquorice note that complements each other.
- Pink peppercorns is the secret ingredient when you braise your shanks. It is aromatic and pungent with a floral note and a softer bite like white pepper, enhancing a perceived sweetness in the wine.
- A bitter, peppery nip from the rocket enhances the savoury character of the wine, unearthing an old-world finesse with more subdued fruit. Mint adds a coolness to the rich flavours of both the wine and the meat.
- You can make tzatziki with yoghurt and cucumber, but we kept it separately as it is visually more attractive. Kefir yoghurt wraps the wine in dairy cotton, making it even more sumptuous.
- Cucumber always adds freshness to a lamb dish without interfering in your food and wine pairing.
- The little jewels of pomegranates are a nod to the plentiful red fruit in the wine and add to the texture.
Met by the warm, intense Mediterranean climate on our visit, one can imagine the determination of the vines diving into a diversity of ancient soils in search of water. The single-vineyard Shiraz block used to craft the Kasteelberg Shiraz 2018, is hand-selected from the foothills of the Kasteelberg, deeply rooted in decomposed granite. Low-yielding vines equal berries with great intensity, and what they call “true hand vinification”, will further contribute to quality as the grapes are hand-sorted, hand-pressed, and gentle extraction followed with hand punch downs. Cold maceration ensures soft and supple tannin extraction that will be obvious when tasting the wines. A 30% whole bunch fermentation adds that whimsical fruit and floral note for an elegant touch. Fermented wild, the wine is left on the skin after fermentation, contributing to the desired. It is then pressed with a traditional basket press and transferred into new French oak barrels for maturation.
Wine folk often refers to the diversity of a particular wine style wine. But, visiting the cellar during harvest 2022, it was impressive to see senior winemaker Sheree Nothnagel keeping a cool head and a friendly face while simultaneously, receiving clients, crushing grapes, driving a forklift, and recommending wines.
This made me even more excited to take some wine home for Georgio to taste, including the Kasteelberg Shiraz 2018.
Shiraz is a deep red wine that always treats you to that instant gratification of fruity and floral aromas, and the Kasteelberg Shiraz 2018 is no different. Dark floral notes of violet and lavender engulf your senses with a hint of spice, announcing its typicity and pure, fleshy fruit. All of this generosity is in balance with freshness and silky tannins. While some examples of Swartland Shiraz have a more intense plum and exotic sandalwood aroma, red peppercorn was an apparent banker for us to construct a worthy dish, dancing on the verge of young plums, mulberry and dried pomegranate. On taste, there is also that quintessential dusty dark fruit of Shiraz that was more subdued on the nose and luring in the core of the wine and ultimately on your midpalate. All this excitement in your mouth is edged with roasted spices like cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and hints of dark chocolate shavings. The wine is dry with a fresh acidity, adding a citrus pith which adds a chalky mouthfeel. The tannin is smooth and silky with enough power to shape the wine and add structure to the fruit feast. A savoury touch of Parma fat and pink rock salt adds more length and leaves you salivating for more.
We believe in eating simply but experimenting widely to understand the complexity of true food and wine pairing. Only then can you honour a single vineyard wine made with precision, and delight in an assortment of the best ingredients to make its acquaintance. We slow-cooked two lamb shanks, a trusted favourite in the Smith-Meletiou household and cooked them in their own juices for four hours. Homemade stock was added with coriander, cumin, salt, thyme, and red peppercorns. As we hardly depend on recipes, the taste gets adjusted as far as it serves the wine.
One can quickly wrap up all this goodness in a tortilla, but hard-shell tacos adds an extra layer of texture. It brings together all the flavours Shiraz loves feasting on.
See it for yourself
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To have your wine featured and reviewed, please contact us.
Samarie +27 82 072 5451
Georgio +27 83 326 3016