With Creation enjoying such a proud reputation for wine and food pairing – among others a four-times winner of the prestigious KLINK ‘Great Pairings’ award – it is not surprising that the team has a natural affinity for sommeliers! Neither is it surprising that they wish to share the secrets of their little piece of paradise with these knowledgeable wine professionals. Hence the day-long Creation ‘Sommelier Sojourn’ which took place on Thursday, 21 February and was attended by nine of South Africa’s finest sommeliers.
The day started bright and early with the sommeliers being transported from Cape Town to Creation in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde for a brisk breakfast. Then it was down to ‘business’: the visitors each donned a ‘picking outfit’ and with shears and crates in hand they joined in the harvesting of the Sauvignon Blanc. This meant picking as well as punching and proved to be both “fun and educating” as a smiling Zintle Mkize pointed out. Thereafter, and to reward them for their hard work, Cellarmaster Jean-Claude Martin treated the guests to a tasting of his older vintage Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Lunch in the form of the scrumptious Harvest Story of Creation Pairing Menu met with great approval and was followed by an insightful presentation by Baptiste Quinard from Burgundy on ‘The cultural dimensions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay’. To end the day the visitors were whizzed off to the nearby Grotto Beach for Sauvignon and sushi at sunset. All in a day’s work …
What follows are a few of the comments made during and after the event, perhaps the most pertinent coming from John Chishimba from the Leeu Collection, Franschhoek:
To have been where the magic begins was truly inspiring: the Creation team made me feel like I was one of them. I was so happy to be in the vineyards doing some harvesting, which made me feel like I was the winemaker for a while. Thank you Team Creation. I’ve had many wine experiences, but this was one of a kind.
Also commenting on the joy of the harvest was Lovejoy Neshamba from Ellerman House, Cape Town:
. . . this was my first ever harvest and it was such a great experience. We went on to taste some wines with Jean-Claude Martin and for me this was phenomenal to have the owner/winemaker/viticulturist explain the methods and decisions he made to produce the wine.
Having appointed himself as ‘supervisor’ of the harvesting team, Eric Welile Botha from Le Wine Chambre, Illovo uttered the following profound words:
If you’re not having fun the wine isn’t going to be good. You must pick with love!
On a more serious note Job Jovo of the V&A Hotel, Cape Town had quite a lot to say:
Picking the grapes looked effortless, as the experienced pickers demonstrated how to handle the fruit bunches without damaging them, yet it’s a skill and passion one should have. We picked from two different blocks next to each other, but what a significant difference in flavour profile of the fruit – which explains the influence of aspect on quality of wine. Sorting our grapes looked very simple and quick, yet again it explains how important hand harvesting is, regardless of it being labour intensive. Walking through the cellar with JC Martin made me understand his philosophy of minimum intervention in winemaking. Going through the Story of Creation over lunch with Phillip makes one understand why you should never be in a hurry at Creation. Not a single detail on the plate is ever by accident. The food was amazing, especially the rabbit for me, which I still replay in my mind and the wines were even better. As a sommelier, it’s always challenging to single out your favourite among exceptional wines, but . . . the Art of Creation Chardonnay always blows my mind away. The 2017 vintage has such a phenomenal vertical structure balanced with wet stone kind of minerality which I find to be a luxury to my palate. Without forgetting Carolyn Martin who has always been a great host every time I visit Creation, her energy is just amazing.
Creation’s Carolyn has the last word:
A big thank you to all our guests for your passion and enthusiasm; hosting you was a great pleasure and privilege. As sommeliers you are the extension of all the work we do on the estate and we truly appreciate the value that you add to our wines.
Click here to watch a video of the exciting event.