Fairview Wines - Wine Tasting - Private Tasting

Exploring Fairview’s fine wines

A private wine tasting with Fairview

Fairview is one of our country’s most recognized and well-known wine farms and a visit to their innovative tasting room, just outside Paarl, is an unforgettable, enjoyable and educational experience.

Earlier this year, I enjoyed their Beryl Back Tasting so much that I was inspired to find a way to bring this amazing experience back home to the foodies with whom I work. This was made easier as a friend of mine, Julie-Beth Lawrence-Savage, is one highly-skilled and knowledgeable wine connoisseur, who conducts Fairview’s master wine tasting. Julie mentioned to me that she would be visiting family in Port Elizabeth, where our head offices are located. 

Fairview, being as astute as they are, welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with us at Home Food and Travel. And so on a balmy winter afternoon, a group of wine enthusiasts gathered around a table to taste and learn.

It is always a pleasure to listen to somebody, who has a passion for their topic. Julie did not just rattle off a few facts. She inspired every one of us at the tasting to understand the very soul of each wine we tasted.

One of the plebs in our group (it may have been me) asked why it is considered poor form to put ice in a wine.

 “A highly-skilled craftsman has spent hours, days, months and years perfecting that glass of wine. A block of ice simply dilutes the essence of an already perfectly crafted artwork,” was Juli’s reply.

Fairview’s wonderful Regional Revival Range

Fairview Wines - Wine tasting

What was great about this tasting is that each wine was paired with a particular Fairview cheese. Just as the wines we tasted were some of the best in the country, so too were the cheeses.

Almost all the wines we tasted were blends and all came from Fairview’s Regional Revival Range. 

Juli introduced us to the range saying, “All these wines are food friendly and each label has a story. These wines are a celebration of old world wines.  Each is a rather unique blend of adventurous grape varieties inspired by the traditional European wine-making styles, but with a classic Cape influence.”

Our first tasting was of the Drie Papen Fontein 2016, a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. Juli talked to us about the Darling vineyards and the wine-making process of this Bordeaux-inspired blend. 

We found it to be a very approachable and versatile wine and I can imagine having a beautifully-chilled bottle or two with a picnic on a sunny afternoon or having it stand up to a lovely seafood risotto at one of my favourite restaurants.

We paired this with the traditional Chevin. The Drie Papen Fontein is quite zesty and has hints of citrus, which are a complement to the mild creamy goat’s milk cheese.

The Nurok 2016 came next. There is a rather good story that goes with the title of this wine, which Juli explained – and can be found on the label. All the varieties that make up the Nurok blend originate from the vineyards of the Fairview farm in Paarl. This wine is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Roussane and Grenache Blanc.

“This is our most awarded and premium white wine from the Fairview farm,” said Juli.

One mouthful later and it was clear why this was so. Truly, this is the best white wine that I have had the pleasure of tasting. On the nose, there are hints of orange peel and stone fruit.  However, it is the structure of this wine that is so amazing. It results in a full and lengthy mouth feel that is extremely elegant and fresh. 

I know we paired it with the salmon cheesecake slice, but, honestly, as beautiful as the cheese was, this princess of white wines was the unforgettable standout.

Fairview’s outstanding red wine selection

Fairview Wines - Red Wine

We then moved onto the four red wines. At this stage, the ice was broken amongst the group and we all started to relax. Juli was bombarded with questions about the cheese and the wine and replied with deft and skilled answers.

I had recently enjoyed a bottle of the 2015 Extrano, next on the tasting list, at a business dinner and remembered what a delightful wine it was.

“This is arguably the best value for money red wine in South Africa at present. The craftsmanship and varieties that have gone into the making of this wine is extraordinary, but because South Africans are not familiar with this Spanish-style wine, Fairview is selling this stranger (Extrano in Spanish) at an entry level price,” said Juli.

A Blend of Tempranillo, Carignan and Grenache Noir varieties from Fairview farm and bush vines in the Swartland region, the Extrano is ruby red in colour, has dark fruit on the nose and is medium to full-bodied on the pallet. It has a long elegant finish that compliments spicy food. In our case, with Sundried tomato and Herb cow’s milk cream cheese.

We then moved onto the 2015 Homtini, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot. Juli said that this was a true food wine and that it can be enjoyed with just about any meal.

She added that, “It has an intense ruby colour and even has aromas of fynbos. It has spicy flavours and a sweet tannin finish.”

We paired this with Fairview’s famous Garlic and Herb Chevin cheese. The dry and spicy wine was a wonderful compliment to this incredibly aromatic and rich cheese.

“The Fairview 2016 Caldera is a classic Southern Rhone-style blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. It has wild berries and pepper on the nose with silky tannins and fruit on the palette,” said Juli.

I found this wine to have a firm tannin structure that really complimented the decadent Roydon, a camembert cheese blended with goat’s milk, cow’s milk and cream.

Last on the list was the awesome 2014 Beacon Shiraz. Despite this being our last wine of the tasting and even though our palettes were not as fresh as at the start, I still found the Beacon Shiraz to be delicious.

The plum and cinnamon was distinctive on the nose. The palette was rich and full bodied with complex flavours of fruit and spice.

We paired this with the Botham blue, a gorgonzola-styled blue cheese that is truly awesome.

Despite much discussion going on between small groups of people and little side experiments of cheese and wine combinations, each time Juli introduced a new wine she had our rapt attention.

I came away from this tasting excited about South African wine-making, more learned in wine lore and full of appreciation of Fairview’s wonderful Regional Revival Range and delicious cheese.

For more information, call 021 863 2450 or  visit www.fairview.co.za

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