World-class Pinot Noir nurtured under cool-climate African skies … choice regional cuisine and heavenly scenery. These were but a few of the ingredients contributing to the joie de vivre of the 2020 Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir Celebration. Aptly titled ‘Under Pinot Skies’, this seventh celebration took place over the weekend of 24 and 25 January and once again glittered in its unique presentation.
Starring some of the most amazing examples of Pinot, the Creation show elicited many a bravo. Most of which is thanks to the ideal Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge terroir, says Carolyn Martin, adding that their virus-free and now well-established vineyards also play an important role in the quality of the wines. “Vine viruses are regarded as one of the wine producer’s biggest enemies as they have the potential to not only reduce the lifespan of a vineyard drastically but also to seriously hamper the quality of the grapes.“
Among the highlights of the celebration was the Friday evening ‘Welcome’ where Hemel-en-Aarde producers showcased some of their older vintages, benchmarked against some top international Pinot Noirs. A true hit was a marvellous jeroboam of Creation Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 – sometimes bigger is better!
Saturday dawned bright and shiny and delivered on its promise of a fantastic day. The guests were transported in three groups to each of the Hemel-en-Aarde appellations where viticulturists, winemakers and selected guest speakers took them on an exciting Pinot journey – from soil to glass. At the Creation venue guests were treated to a presentation by the leading viticulturist, Rosa Kruger. This was followed by a tasting session of Pinots grown on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge while midday guests were also served a scrumptious lunch paired with the famous Hemel-en-Aarde Chardonnays.
The weekend culminated in ‘A Taste of Hemel-en-Aarde’. The chefs Jason Lilley from Jason Bakery, Jaco Grove and the Creation Culinary Team, Rickey Broekhoven from The Restaurant at Newton Johnson and Petri Hendriksz and his team from Char’d Grill showcased some of the finest ingredients the region has to offer, paired with a joyous array of local wines.
All in all it was a great event which is perhaps best summarised by Cape Wine Master, Dr Winifred Bowman:
This year was the best Pinot Noir Celebration, more slick and inclusive, allowing all participants to meet and taste the wines of all the participating producers. A highlight is always the visit to Creation. The Martins and their world-class trained team always go the extra mile and this year was no exception. Having Rosa Kruger at this venue gave valuable insight into the specific ward, its people and wines. I am looking forward to 2021!
More enthusiastic reviews came from:
Cathy van Zyl, Master of Wine: The PNC [Pinot Noir Celebration] is an honest reflection of what this tiny corner of the SA industry has to offer: well-crafted and interesting (and often exceptional) wines, beautiful vistas and settings, generous hospitality and a window into the world of a tight-knit and knowledgeable wine community. It gives opportunity for those with either a keen or enthusiastic interest in this wonderful grape to indulge their ‘geek’ or simply share.
Joseph Dhafana, Sommelier La Colombe: You can bring your Burgundy Pinot Noir, I will challenge you with Creation the Art of Pinot Noir 2016. I was absolutely blown away with this art in a bottle!
Ronald Peens, Director Wine Cellar: This year’s Hemel-en-Aarde Pinot Noir Celebration was the best yet, as producers from the three clearly defined and accepted wards put on a good show. Their camaraderie is definitely pushing Pinot in the Hemel-en-Aarde to new heights!
Karen Winter, Pinot Aficionado: This valley is a paradise for Pinot Noir lovers! From the beautiful rolling hills of vineyards to the stunning produce that fill our glasses … an absolute wine lover’s bucket list celebration. Nothing beats the hospitality of the hosts of this celebration.