Die Bergkelder or Cellar under the mountain is the home of Fleur De Cap wines.
They have a unique tasting that is served on a salt plate – you can lick it, but apparently that would be weird. These plates are mainly used as a hot plate and heated until they are white (normally pink at room temperature) and then food is cooked on them. The food absorbs the salt from the plate and seasons itself.
Moving on to the actual tasting, we are given melba toast with a variety of pate’s/toppings that are chosen to bring out the flavour of the wines that they are paired with. Now I am no foodie or sommelier I just enjoy both food and wine so here is my go at what the tasting was all about:
Tasting 1 – Unfilterd Savignon Blanc and Sulfuric Volcano Salt
The 2014 unfiltered Sav Blanc is a very young vintage, the colour is slightly green because of this and it has a slightly high acidity. This vintage is paired with a salty Dolmada that has been soaked in the “fart salt”. This sulphuric volcanic salt from Pakistan has the characterististic sulphuric smell of egg that I don’t think is that bad but apparently I am in the minority with this. The salt is very pungent when tasted but our taster assured us that on popcorn it is delicious.
The briney taste of the dolmads works very well to reduce the acidity in the young vintage and when the acidity is reduced the fruitiness of the wine is brought out which for me softened the first taste. My fellow Bikies ‘n Wines colleagues tasted some asparagus notes as well, but I got stuck on the fruity side of things.
Tasting 2 – Unfilteres Charddonnay 2013 and Hawaian black Lava Salt
The Chardonnay is wooded for 8 months in new French oak barrels, the colour is a lot lighter than the sauvingnon blanc with a much more robust buttery feel to it. Our pairing was with a green olive tapendade made with almond paste (I kept calling it pesto as it seemed like a mix between tampenade and pesto – I’m not a foodie so don’t sue me). The black salt used in this is very interesting to look at and taste as we are so not used to seeing black salt, this extreme colour is caused by the last process of the salt production where it is infused in activated coconut shell charcoal which gives it a more intense flavour. The almonds in the tampenade bring out the wooded quality in the wine and the olives (technically a fruit) highlites certain citrus notes come to the surface at the same time. I couldn’t get enough of this pairing and had to restrain myself so that I could mix and match the wines after the tastings.
Tasting 3 – Unfiltered 2011 merlot and Murray Ruver Pink Salt
This vintage is barrelled in french oak for 18 months producing a very tannin rich (that bitter dry mouth taste) wine but the tannins are not as aggressive as say the Cabernet which we will taste next (always start with the lighter wines and make your way to the heavier ones or you will destroy your pallat for that tasting). When a wine has a high amount of tannins it generally means that it has a good ageing ability and will “soften” over time. The chicken liver pate with the sweet caremalized onion made with the Murray River Pink Salt it a very rich pairing that works quite well to soften the acidity in the wine wich then gives the sweeter onions a chance to bring out some of the fruityness in the wine. I always love how all wine is classified as fruity and then realised that it is made of grapes so this really shouldn’t be to surprising. This pairing is had the entire group using their fingers to try and get the utmost out of our little jars of pate – scrumptiouliscious
Tasting 4 – Unfiltered 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
The Cabernet sauvignon is a heavier more substantial wine that is matured in French oak barrels for 16 months, you would expect to have this with a large steak, but Bergkelder has chosen to pair it with a Sundried Tomato and Mature gouda combination that is seasoned with the Red Alea Salt. The sweetness of the tomato is not something that I would readily pair with a red wine but with the sharpness of the gouda bringing down the tannins, the fruity tomato seem so accentuate the plumy flavours that are hiding really well in the wine.
Tasting 5 – Noble late harvest and Khoisan Salt Flakes
Fluer de Cap’s late harvest is a noble late harvest, this means that the vineyards have been infected with the botrytis mould, this sounds pretty bad but a wine cannot be called a “noble” harvest if this infection hasn’t happened. The mould leaches most of the water out of the wine leaving the sugar and fruit acid and minerals in a higher concentrate than usual. The noble late harvest from fluer de cap has 186g of sugar in it per litre, this is SUPER sweet, but isn’t as syrupy as you would expect (a dry wine generally has under 5 grams of sugar in it). The first thing you are supposed to know when pairing a dessert wine is that the wine should always be as sweet or sweeter than the dessert in question. The pairing of this decadent sweetness is complimented very well with the bergkelder salted fudge infused with West Coast Khoisan salt flakes. The salt acts as a great way to bring down the sweetness so you can taste the peache and honey flavours hidden in the wine. This is the perfect way to end off a great dinner or just a simple tasting and I may have had to ask for another piece of fudge or two because it is just so more-ish.
The overall experience is a decadent one that leaves you ready to sink into a puffy armchair and smile wistfully out the window for the rest of the day.