Welcome to our first feature where we take you along with us to a restaurant where you can enjoy De Grendel wines, and discover which dishes work well with them. This month, we feature the fabulous Seelan at the magestic V&A Waterfront, where chef and owner Seelan Sundoo dreams up his Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
By Jonathan Davies
Cape Town's restaurants are enticing customers through their doors with a range of delicious sounding Winter specials, but Seelan's offering really stands out at a three-course meal for R180. I was joined by De Grendel Marketing Manager Righard to discover which De Grendel wines work best with the dishes.
The professional staff seated us and then told us about the Winter Warmers menu. We decided that we would order a bottle of each of the De Grendel wines that Seelan’s currently list (De Grendel Rose 2015, De Grendel Chardonnay 2015 and the De Grendel Pinot Noir 2013) to accompany our choices. Here is how we paired our choices with the wine, and as it turned out we were in for a few surprises!
The lobster bisque – De Grendel Rosé 2015
I already had this pairing waxed and knew that the perfect pairing would be our Chardonnay. How wrong I was thanks to the chef's interpretation of this classic. The bisque arrived and I noticed that the bisque wasn’t a traditional rich and creamy soup, but a lovely light fragrant lobster bisque with dill. The beautiful sweet flavour from the perfectly balanced lobster stock was lifted by the aniseed tones of the dill.
When we tried the De Grendel Chardonnay with this dish we realized that the Chardonnay’s bold flavours and rich complexity completely overpowered the subtle flavours of the bisque. However ,when we tried it with the De Grendel Rosé we knew it was a perfect match.
The Seelan lobster bisque is closer in style to the original lobster bouillabaisse from the Cote d’Azur. The dish itself is delicious as it isn’t rich and heavy with too much cream or brandy. The subtle fresh anise flavour in the bisque really highlights the bounty of fresh berries and watermelon found in this wine, while the sweet crustacean flavour of the lobster is enhanced by the freshness of it. We also felt that the colour of the wine conjured up the colour of a freshly steamed lobster, which enhanced this pairing.
The Spicy Seafood Salad – De Grendel Chardonnay 2015
This seafood salad had a wonderful curry undertone that helped to pronounce the delicate salty sweet flavours of the seafood. I thought that our Rosé would be the best match for this dish. Again, when we tasted the dish we started to have doubts... The Rosé was completely overpowered by it. Not because it was spicy, I just felt that it was due to the complexity of flavours in the dish. When we tried it with the Chardonnay however, they managed to dance beautifully together. On the nose the citrus marmalade enhanced the freshness of the salad and on the palate the soft vanilla gently lifted the subtle curry notes. The well balanced acidity in the dish from the spicy tomato sauce just helped to act as a palate cleanser to prepare our mouth for the next mouthful.
Main Courses: T-Bone Steak Served with Roast Baby Potatoes and Old Man’s Sauce – De Grendel Pinot Noir 2013
The T-Bone is presented on an old school oval platter with the veggies, potatoes, spinach and a sauce boat filled with the old man’s sauce. It was so nice to see plain chopped spinach with no cream, which I find can become very rich and you often lose the natural flavour of the spinach. The vegetables were beautifully cooked and still had a nice crunch.
We automatically went for the Pinot Noir as a pairing and we were correct with this dish! The steak and the mushrooms, the light refreshing flavours of the vegetables and the richness of the sauce were perfectly balanced with the wine. The sauce is scented with rosemary, which just helped to enhance the berry forward notes of the wine and also helped to accentuate the pine needle characteristic.
However if you are not a fan of red wine don’t worry as I was very pleasantly surprised how the Chardonnay held up to this dish. I think the flambéed brandy in the sauce gives the sauce a toasty flavour (almost like a burnt butter) which enhances the gentle oak structure of the wine. It also has the perfect amount of acidity in it to control the richness of the sauce. I would be very happy with either of these wines with this dish.
Seafood Ravioli – De Grendel Chardonnay 2015
I am not normally a fan of ravioli as I find that most restaurants tend to mince the filling too much so it becomes like a dumpling or smooth sausage filling. It was so refreshing to be able to identify each individual ingredient: prawn, crayfish and kingklip. The sauce is a rich, well balanced mix of prawn, tomato and garlic. These three flavours are just so good together. The fried calamari heads on top added an extra dimension to the texture. The Chardonnay’s marmalade tones helped to enhance the seafood in this ravioli and the fried crunchy heads reinforced the oak undertones of the wine. This was for me the best dish and wine pairing of the day.
If you would like to book a table at Seelan contact them on 021 421 4906 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you require any information, or would like to purchase De Grendel wines, you can do so at www.degrendel.co.za