After a tough year for Franck he decided that wine Wednesdays with some of his friends in the wine industry would help reignite his passion. When Kevin Grant asked him how he kept his creativity flowing, his answer was simple, wine! When he tasted wine his creative juices started flowing. Wine inspired him. At the start of each dinner he raises a glass to ’Peachy’ his business partner and best friend Pete de Bruin who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Last week it was the turn of Bruwer Raats. Bruwer recalls how Franck was the first person to list both his wines, when everyone else thought he was crazy for producing a single varietal Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc. One restauranteur even had the cheek to tell Bruwer that he spelt Cabernet Sauvignon wrong 😉

Franck gloated how he got to take the Raats wines home for the night, drank them on his own and really got fired up about Bruwer’s incredible creations. Franck has now combined the deli and the restaurant into one space, one concept. He wants to move even further away from his roots in fine dining. His food is still presented exquisitely, bursting with flavour and with a rustic charm. We started the evening with The Noordhoek dip. We dunked warm bread into a very delicious dip of red pepper skin, chilli dust, kelp vinegar, fynbos and dukkha with olive oil. So wonderfully simple, comforting but not short of wow. This was paired with Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2019.

Named ‘original’ Chenin Blanc, this wine is an ode to the grape in its truest form, demonstrating Chenin Blanc in his purest, ‘original’ form, with minimal interference from the winemaker. Unrestrained pineapple, fresh golden delicious apples, and zesty citrus fruit. It’s fresh, lean and fit for any occasion.

The next course was the salmon trout – a dish of slightly smoked and cured trout served with crunchy fennel, grapefruit and a vanilla and wasabi emulsion. This was paired with the 2018 Eden Chenin Blanc.

Raats Eden Chenin Blanc is I believe, the only South African wine made from a high density single vineyard of Chenin Blanc. Named ‘Eden’ after Bruwer’s farm in the Polkadraai appellation in Stellenbosch. He proudly tells us how he didn’t inherit anything, his father taught him to fend for himself, and if he wanted something he better work hard until he gets it.

In South Africa we constantly chase old vines but Bruwer believes the best comes from young when planted with the right rootstock, the right clone, in the right soils, facing the right deirection, quality by design as he calls it. And in tasting his esquisite wines, it hard to argue with this theory. He is planting for the now, but also for future generations.

The result is a precise and vibrant wine, with a dynamic acidity that played with the crunchy fennel and enlived the salmon. The flavours in the dish and the nuances in the wine perfectly harmonised as a bright and cheerful, but ever so graceful melody.

Next we had a sea and land herbs risotto with grilled asparagus and we paired this with the 2019 Eden Chenin Blanc.

This was quite simply the best risotto I think I have ever eaten, (and that is a bold statement – as I eat alot of risotto, it’s always my go to on a menu!) Anyway I degress. It was paired with the latest and newly released Eden Chenin Blanc 2019. The combination of vinatge variation and dish paired, the 2019 showed a broader palate, but still withheld a perfect clarity. Beautuful concentration, length, a great weight and the texture you would expect from old vines. Prooving once again you don’t need to wait to get quality wines.

MR de Compostella 2017 with air dried mature sirloin, shallot and red wine jam, spring herbs compote and pommes frites.

And for mains; one of South Africa’s most consisitently highly rated red wines paired with good old steak-frites. When you have a great red wine, one often craves a good steak… and when one has a good steak one often craves a good red wine. This is of course a classic pairing, but this was a world class, premium example of said pairing, the wine, the steak, the frites and that sauce, were all so happy to be in each others fine company!

MR Compostella 2017 is dominated by Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vintage is luxuriously powerful but within that intensity is grace and refinement. A beautitully detailed and persistent wine, vibrant dark fruit, sauvory dark cocoa and some cedar spice all interplay into a harmonious Bordeaux blend.

This was a night full of bold flavours magnificently restrained by their masters. The food, the wine, the converstion and the men at play. It doesn’t get much better.

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