Stellenbosch Hills is the first wine estate to have introduced the ‘Biltong & Droëwors Adventure’ pairing of its wines with biltong and dry wors in its tasting room, and therefore launched a ‘Biltong Maker of the Year’ challenge to wine and biltong lovers four years ago, an annual event. This year the competition pairs this South African speciality with the Stellenbosch Hills Shiraz 2007. The art of wine blending is as specialised as drying and spicing meat, says the winery’s media release.
A group of food and wine writers was invited by Stellenbosch Hills to attend a function to announce the 2012 competition. At the premises of master spice suppliers, and first-time sponsors of the competition, Freddy Hirsch in Maitland, the group was shown the art of biltong-making. I had a busy morning, and therefore could not attend this part of the proceedings, but joined the group for the lunch, for which Stellenbosch Hills’ PR consultant Nicolette Waterford had chosen Magica Roma in Pinelands, due to its close proximity to Maitland.
Stellenbosch Hills is on the road that connects the N2 to Stellenbosch, near Spier, and represents 14 farms on the Polkadraai Pad. It was previously a co-operative. We drank a Polkadraai Red (70% Pinotage and 30% Merlot, costs R30) and White (70% Chenin Blanc and 30 % Sauvignon Blanc, at R26) blend with the Antipasto platters of grilled vegetables with grilled baby calamari, chilli and garlic; mixed Italian cold meats; a mixed salad; and a Caprese salad; served with garlic and herb focaccia. I loved the polka dots on the neck labels, a design quirk to emphasise the brand name, and to create the feel of the lively dance it is named after. The name had been registered by Nicolette’s dad Gabriel Kriel, a farmer on this route, which he donated to the winery. His Chev ‘bakkie’ is illustrated on the back label. The Polkadraai range also has Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot/Shiraz 3 litre boxes (R75 – R80), and a Pinot Noir Rosé sparkling wine (R46).
Magica Roma has been operating from its premises for years, and little seems to have changed about its decor and menu. The Italian owners Ezio and Franco came to check personally that all was in order for every course. Cellarmaster and winemaker PG Slabbert introduced each of the sets of Stellenbosch Hills’ wines before each course, and said that the 1707 Reserve range was named in honour of the year in which Governor Simon van der Stel first granted farms in this area. The 1707 White Reserve 2009 (R60) is a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon, and 10% Viognier, while the Red Reserve 2008 is a 50% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 11% Petit Verdit blend (R82). Served as a selection of main courses was a pasta and tomato sauce, the line fish of the day, escallops of veal paillard, and Tagliata Fiorentina.
The dessert, a delicious if small portion of tiramisu, was paired with the unique Stellenbosch Hills Muscat de Hambourg 2010 (related to the Hanepoot), the only winery to make this Jerepigo-style fortified sweet wine (R38). The grapes are grown on the farm of Nicolette’s brother Philip Kriel. Stellenbosch Hills also sells a Cultivar Collection, with Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon, all excellent value at prices ranging from R28 – R47.
Entrants to the Stellenbosch Hills ‘Biltong Maker of the Year’ challenge must pay an entry fee of R150, which offers them a bottle of Stellenbosch Hills Shiraz 2007; a Freddy Hirsch spice pack with a biltong recipe book, a DVD on game deboning and meat processing, and a detailed ‘Hunters Workshop’ booklet for making biltong, in selecting the most suitable meat, how to spice and marinade the meat, how to hang and dry it, and how to store it; and delivery. Entries of a 500 gram sample of the biltong of any meat-cut must be returned to the winery by 31 August. The entries will be judged on the pairing of the biltong with the Shiraz, and the winners will be announced in September, with prizes to the value of R60000 up for grabs.
Disclosure: We received a Biltong King biltong maker, a pack of Freddy Hirsch spices, and a bottle of Stellenbosch Hills Shiraz 2007.
Stellenbosch Hills, Tel (021) 881-3828. www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za Twitter:@STBHills
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage