Last week, we were invited to the media launch of the new Saartjie wine range at Hillcrest Estate.
The Saartjie range is named after a Jack Russell. She is the loyal companion of Hillcrest's winemaker, Arno Smith. The story behind her name is quite unique. Firstly, Arno and his best friend decided that if they were ever to get dogs, they would name them Boet and Saartjie, after the popular Afrikaans books they read as children. Secondly, Saartjie was also the name of Arno's great aunt - a strong-willed woman whose characteristics seem to appear in the dog Saartjie, too.
Arno picked this particular female to be his Saartjie as she was quiet, cautious and shy and he preferred her temperament to the other female, which his brother took.
Here he is pictured below with his beloved dog.
This media launch was held in the inside area of Hillcrest's Restaurant (see below left). I have been to Hillcrest before, and we had a lovely lunch where we sat outside.
On this particular evening, we got to try out some of the tapas from the Hillcrest kitchen and they were really delicious (see below right).
In 2016, Hillcrest's wine maker, Arno Smith, began working on a unique-style Semillon. (Ironically, Saartjie often eats the grapes off the ground and the Semillon ones appear to be her favourite).
Arno's Semillon is made using a technique called "wild fermentation". This means that he did not add any commercial yeast and instead, allowed the wine to ferment naturally. The wine was later matured in French oak barrels and the result is quite a unique taste, with flavours of citrus, honey, toffee and vanilla. It smells like green grass and is very crisp. This wine was actually not served to us chilled, which was something new for me. The reason for this was so that, at room temperature, you can really taste all of the individual flavours in the wine and the result is a more full-bodied mouthful of wine than had it been chilled.
The Semillon wine was paired with pear, Gorgonzola and walnut fingers and Camembert and apple strudel (see below). The strudel was really delicious!
Arno received such a good response from the Semillon 2017 that he decided to expand on the Saartjie range and thus introduced a Malbec, a Cabernet Franc and a Petit Verdot.
The Malbec 2016 has a really cool dark purple colour and has flavours of blackberry, plum and black cherry. It's a very easy, medium-bodied wine that isn't very oaky due to only 10% new oak barrels being used. We had this paired with a hot, spicey butternut soup with parmesan crisps and roasted beetroot with goats cheese and almonds. Yum!
The Cabernet Franc 2016 was next up and I was super impressed with this one (see below).
The Cabernet Franc has a chalky nose and hints of wild blossoms. It is also quite spicy, but still elegant, with flavours of blackcurrant and herbs.
This wine was paired with pork loin with an apple spice chutney and carrot puree and chicken koftas with a smoky tomato relish, basil-balsamic sauce and hummus. The chicken koftas were really tasty (see below) and they complimented the Cabernet Franc wonderfully.
The last wine was the Petit Verdot 2016. This wine has a deep, dark colour and intense berry and smokey flavours. On the nose, you can smell liquorice and cassis. It's also medium-bodied and has good aging potential.
This wine was paired with two delicious tapas: seared tuna with sesame and Ponzu dressing and a sweet potato rosti with charred beef fillet.
We ended off the evening with coffee and yummy date and coconut balls as well as rocky road bites.
Overall, we had a lovely evening! The whole Saartjie range (see below) is available to buy from the Hillcrest Estate at R125 per bottle.