Raise a chilled glass of the season’s hottest varietal
With the days still long and the mercury still soaring, it’s little wonder that Spier Executive Chef Lolli Heyns’s go-to varietal is Chenin Blanc.
“Chenin is a refreshing varietal that can be made in completely different styles – and it goes really well with summer foods,” she explains as she welcomes us into the kitchen of Eight, the farm-to-table restaurant at Spier that she helms. “We use fresh produce organically grown in our food garden to really showcase the seasons at Spier – and this means we often match Chenin with our farm-style dishes at this time of year.”
“Chenin has a beautiful flavour profile: it’s mouth-watering – the glands in your mouth literally start watering. Very few other varietals have that effect,” adds Spier Cellar Master Frans Smit.
Heyns particularly favours the Spier Signature Chenin Blanc, which is fresh and fruity in style, for its tropical aromas. It’s an ideal match for lighter dishes such as a courgette soufflé with gruyere. “The crispness of the wine cuts through the earthiness of the goat cheese and you are left with something spectacular – a perfect balancing of crisp flavours and richness,” says Heyns.
“The full-bodied Spier’s 21 Gables Chenin Blanc is rich and ripe in style, and therefore pairs beautifully with rich dishes,” she says. She recommends creamy West Coast mussels with white wine, leeks, lemon and cream. “The wine offers a great fresh balance to the richness of the cream.”
West Coast mussels with white wine, leeks, lemon and cream
with Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc
Nothing beats the distinctive flavour of fresh black mussels, straight from the beautiful West Coast. Don’t overcook them – they just need a few minutes of hot steam in your pot of wine and leeks. Some lemon rind adds a nice zesty touch. Serve hot with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
(Serves four to six. Prep and cooking time: 30min.)
- 30ml olive oil
- 30ml butter
- One small bunch leeks, finely chopped (white parts only)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Half a bottle white wine (Chenin Blanc works well)
- 5 – 2kg cleaned fresh black mussels
- 125ml fresh cream
- Rind of a lemon, finely grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh herbs, to serve (parsley and dill work well)
Rinse the mussels under cold tap water to clean them. Scrub the outsides if they are a little hairy, then pull off the grassy “beard” from the pointy side to the round side. They are now ready for the pot. Remember, any mussels that won’t close before cooking must be discarded. And any mussels that won’t open after cooking, can also be tossed.
In a wide heavy-based pot or casserole, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Fry the leeks and garlic until soft and translucent, but not too brown. Add the wine, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Add the mussels all at once and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil again and steam for five to eight minutes until they are open and just-cooked. Add the cream and heat through, then take off the heat and add the lemon rind. Season to taste with salt and pepper (some mussels can be very salty already, so be careful).
Serve scattered with chopped herbs and a glass of Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc.
About the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc:
This wine is sourced predominantly from vines more than 40-years-old growing in a single vineyard on the slopes of the Tygerberg Hills in Durbanville. This bright and yellow-tinged beauty has been oak-fermented and matured for 14 months. The nose immediately offers ripe, baked apples and apple pie spice. A combination of savoury notes and pure fruit gives beautiful layers of complexity to a rich entry and powerful palate. This is a full-bodied, seriously structured Chenin Blanc that will age well over the next decade.