RAIDERS OF THE LOST WINE AT THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL
Steven Spielberg would be hesitant to turn this gem of a story into a Hollywood blockbuster but the story of wine at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean lost for 18-years makes for an incredible story over dessert at the latest The Four Seasons Hotel: The Westcliff wine-pairing dinner.
Springfield Wine Estate played host to the latest wine-pairing dinner at The Four Seasons Hotel: The Westcliff with vineyard purveyor Jeanette Bruwer taking guest through each of the wines paired with executive chef, Dirk Gieselmann‘s creations. Tucked away in a corner of View restaurant, overlooking the terrace and Johannesburg at night, the culinary theatre unfolded.
The Amuse bouche for the evening is a Seabass and Oyster Tartar with Watercress, Ocean Foam and Caviar Potpourri served in an Egg shell, paired with Life from Stone 2015, Savignon Blanc. Every year Springfield Wine Estate battles against nature in order to produce highly concentrated, powerful wines with a flinty, mineral character true to the quartz rock in which it is grown.
The Amuse bouche is followed by Carrots and Mozambican Prawns. The organic prawns are roasted and the carrots are served in different textures served with coriander pesto and organic reduction. This is all paired with a Méthode Ancienne 2012, Chardonnay, with nuances of lime, cointreau and oranges, which works beautifully with this seafood dish.
Miss Lucy, the name of the next wine and one of those dining with us, is next to be paired with the Monk Fish and Chorizo. A seared monk fish fillet with chorizo crust, chickpea mousseline and pepper ragout with fresh mussels and calamari is brought together with this 2015 unique blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Gris bursts with citrus pamplemousse flavours and an ample mouth feel, yet remarkably moderate in alcohol.
The Kroon Duck and Peach is made up of a roasted fillet with cauliflower couscous and crispy confit, mild spice jus and green asparagus, red wine and poached peach matched with The Work Of Time 2009, Blend. The vines were planted on carefully selected sites and took 9 years to reach maturity. The grapes were fermented whole with native yeasts and left for 5 weeks on their skins. The wine was then barrel aged for two years followed by four years of bottle maturation. A sound choice to go with duck.
For dessert it’s a Deconstructed Berry Cake bringing together seasonal berries with orange sponge, redwine compote with chocolate sorbet and brandy chantilly paired with Méthode Ancienne 2011, Cabernet Savignon. And then a bottle appears that no one had seen before, with no label and chilled. It’s a bottle that’s 18-years in the making.
Jeanette Bruwer tells the story of a stormy day when she set out with her brother to take a few dozen bottles in steel cages to the Cape coast and travel out to sea, on a small boat, to store these bottles of wine in a dark, slightly warm yet always moving spot – the bottom of the ocean. Having reached the spot somewhere out to sea, as dark clouds collected, the steel cages with the valuable cargo were thrown overboard. Now, with the bottles of wine stored at the bottom of the ocean, someone had to make a note of where to find this treasure again. With limited GPS details at the time, a boat moving with the stormy current and with no pen and paper available, Jeanette‘s brother etched the code as best possible into the wood of the deck of the boat. It was a while later before the siblings would try and locate their cellar under the sea again but to no avail. The fear of someone else bringing up this valuable stash, if they knew where it was, is real, but without some professional help, the wine could be lost forever.
Eventually, a trusted source with some professional diving experience comes to the rescue, and discovers the crates of wine, stored on the sea bed for close to two decades. Jeanette opens a bottle of the white wine from the ocean and serves everyone a glass. Maybe the story acts as a catalyst for a hallucination but the smell of the sea rises from the glass and the taste of the sea breeze permeates the palate. It’s delicious.
A remarkable story and unique experience to finish off the night. For more info on The Four Seasons Hotel: The Westcliff wine pairing dinners visit www.fourseasons.com/johannesburg and to discover more about the Springfield Wine Estate, visit www.springfieldestate.com