Sunday, May 02, 2004
Vice-Echanson Manfred Raiser
South African Ordre Mondial Wine Dinner at Swissôtel
The Chicago Chapter of the Ordre Mondial gathered May 2nd on the 43rd floor of the Swissôtel for a delightful dinner featuring South African wine. A sweeping view of the Chicago skyline provided the backdrop for this marvelous evening, with food by Executive Chef, Chef Rôtisseur Dan McGee.
After hors d’oeuvres and a Champagne reception, the toast was given by Swissôtel General Manager, Thomas Klein. A Pierre Jourdan Ratafia was served, and later paired well with the first course, a foie gras terrine. The terrine was garnished with Cape gooseberries, which Chef McGee had specially procured.
The next two wines of the evening, both Sauvignon Blancs, were highly recommended in a Wine Spectator article appearing three weeks after the event. The Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (92 pts WS) and the Neil Ellis Groenekloof 2002 (90 pts WS) “should be hoarded by savvy consumers preparing for summer imbibing”, according to James Molesworth. The Mulderbosch worked extremely well with the asparagus purée and morel mushrooms which accompanied the pan seared Halibut.
The Pheasant Galantine was justly matched with a 2001 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir as well as a 1996 Hartenberg Shiraz. Although the Pinot Noir grape does not generally excel in the Cape, Hamilton Russell definitely produces a world class Burgundian style wine.
Two of the Cape’s premier red wine producers, Rust en Vrede and Kanonkop were represented with the next course, a Ribeye of Lamb. Both are award-winning Bordeaux-style blends.
Following the lamb was an assortment of blue cheeses. Pinotage,- a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (“hermitage’) and once thought of as South Africa’s signature grape, was served with this course. The 2000 Fairview Primo and the 1998 Kanonkop both exemplify the finest qualities of this variety.
The surprise of the evening, not appearing on the menu, were two beautifully etched magnums of the 1997 Trillennium Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a limited bottling of a once-off production, intended as a millennium promotion. The leading 100 Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the Cape supplied barrels of their 1997 wine that was then blended by vintner Martin Meinert of Meinert Wines. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was appreciated by all.
The dessert, literally an “orange olive oil cake” was a perfect foil for the 1997 Klein Constantia Vin de Constance. This late-harvest Muscat is a re-creation of the celebrated Constantia Wijn of the 18th and 19th centuries, sought after by legendary figures from Frederick the Great to Napoleon, and immortalized in literature by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Baudelaire.
To end the evening, coffee and mignardises were served along with KWV 1990 Late Bottled Vintage Port and KWV Van der Hum liqueur. Vice-Chargé de Missions–Caviste Simeon Roldan, later expressed the opinion of many attendees, “...the wines chosen were of very high quality. [This has] changed my perspective on South African wines!”.