Drinks, food

Wines with wings

Fish and chips. That’s what I’ve got on my mind today. Where to get the best fish and chips in Cape Town is up for debate, but head out of the city along that winding, cliff-hugging coastal road to Pringle Bay and you’ve pretty much hit the jackpot. Hook Line and Sinker doesn’t have sea views and is not exactly located in the most scenic part of the village, but who cares – you certainly won’t when getting involved with the robust portion of perfectly crisp beer-battered fish and mountain of chips brought to the table in communal pans, and which you eat with your fingers off sheets of wax paper. This tiny spot (it seats just 26, so you have to book well ahead) is the height of conviviality; the kind of place where you’ll want to sit all day, drinking copious amounts of wine, and hopefully with accommodation organised close by so you won’t have to even think about driving. It was here that I had my first close encounter with Bartinney wine, specifically their Sauvignon Blanc, which couldn’t have been a better partner for the meal. First impressions are everything, which is why I’m such a sucker for a striking, well designed wine label. Judging books by their covers? Doesn’t everyone? Bartinney’s stylishly minimalist label is instantly eye-catching: a winged figure mirroring the Dylan Lewis sculpture on the grounds of the winery, located on the Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch. It’s as uplifting as their wines. Bartinney’s Chardonnay has received considerable acclaim, and I’m a huge fan of it myself, but it was to taste the just-released Bartinney Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (R130 – you can order on the website) that I got to have one of those lunches that stretch on well into the evening with owners Michael and Rose Jordaan, and talented (and very pregnant) winemaker Therese de Beer, in their glorious art-filled tasting room. And yes of course, there were glasses of the Sauv Blanc and Chardonnay too, which we sipped with tasty canapes and bowls of a fresh, light risotto (with peas, mange tout and asparagus) respectively. The couple outsourced the catering to Stellenbosch restaurant Umami, who, to accompany the new red, did what was reported to be a very good springbok shank wrapped in cabbage leaves, served on top of mash. As a pescatarian, I think I got the best deal: fantastic fresh yellowtail, also with mash, and served with the same port-and-prune jus that accompanied the meat, meaning it stood up well to the wine. Rose told us all about the farm’s continuing efforts to be Carbon Neutral (they’ve been audited as such), and what becoming a Biodiversity in Wine Champion has entailed. (The proteas on the table were picked on the farm by her that morning, incidentally.) After dessert of quince-and-pistachio crumble with vanilla-bean ice cream, served with Bartinney’s experimental grappa (made in such a small batch it’s unfortunately not for sale), more bottles of the Cabernet were opened as we watched the sun set from the deck, the surrounding mountains glowing crimson in the warm golden light. And as the surprise heat of the clear wintry day ebbed away and the evening chill set in, even more bottles were opened, and we headed indoors to continue drinking and conversing beside a roaring fire. Which is about as much as you might need to know about this wine, really…