Friday, 28 March 2014

Elim - The Beautiful South

Not far from Africa's southernmost point at Cape Agulhas, is the Elim Wine Ward.  An environment that can truly be said to be suited to 'cool climate' wines with frequent sea 'breezes' chilling the vines.  By planting the right thing, in the right soil, with the correct sun and wind exposure, and most importantly not fiddling too much in the cellar, most of the winemakers of this part of South Africa have brought out the absolute best in their grapes.  The slow ripening of the fruit, due to the cool and relatively harsh conditions (and also soils that make the vines work to survive) allow for greater complexity and body in the wines.  This, in my opinion, is best expressed in their Sauvignon Blancs, with flinty minerality, great fruit and a natural acidity. 

The 2013 Strandveld Sauvignon Blanc, taken entirely from the Pofadderbos vineyard, is a wine that captures the uniqueness of the terroir perfectly.  Besides puffadders, the vineyard also has ferricrete soils and this plays a big part in creating the intense complexity, concentration and balance of powerful minerality and lively tropical fruit.  Their Adamastor is a very well constructed (Bordeaux) blend of Sauvignon and Semillon from South Africa's southernmost vineyards.  It's a fairly intense wine that requires a bit of concentration and is great with food.  

Strandveld's very talented winemaker, Conrad Vlok, is a great example of the young force that is taking South Africa's wine image to new heights.  His obvious passion for the industry is evident in all of his wines and even though his awards and medals could fill his cellar, he is about as down to earth as you get.

He's been incredibly busy in his vineyards of late but has still found time to give me a recipe that he feels works well with the Adamastor. 

Conrad's fresh Cob (normally caught off his kayak) with Sycadelic Sauce

  1. some fresh cob, filleted with the skin left on
  2. a little flour
  3. a handful of fresh coriander
  4. a wedge of butter
  5. half a lemon
Sycadelic Sauce:
  1. 2 Tbsp canola oil
  2. a handful of crushed cashew nuts
  3. 1 chopped red chilli, seeds removed
  4. 2 cloves fresh crushed garlic
  5. 100ml lemon juice
  6. 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  7. 3 Tsbp apricot jam
  • cut the fish into portions, dust with flour and set aside
  • heat the oil in a small pot and fry the cashews, chilli and garlic for a few mins
  • add the lemon juice and simmer for 2 mins
  • add the fish sauce and simmer for another 2 mins, then stir in the apricot jam
  • cook slowly to glaze
  • taste the sauce, it should be a good sweet/sour combination (adjust if needed)
  • fry the fish portions in a pan with a little oil, meat side first until golden
  • turn the heat down and turn the fish skin side down
  • as the skin starts to turn brown add the butter and squeeze in the fresh lemon
  • don't overcook the fish
  • put a good scoop of sauce over the top of each of the fish portions and garnish with some fresh coriander
  • serve from the pan
  • enjoy with some basmati rice, sweet potato and most importantly a chilled bottle of Adamastor

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