Creation Hosts Benchmark Riedel Tasting

By creation, September 18th, 2014, | No Comments »

Since the opening of its beautifully appointed Tasting Room in 2008, Creation Wines on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge has boasted a range of four cultivar-specific Riedel glasses as a standard feature of every tasting offered to visitors to the Estate – a pioneering concept in a South African tasting room.

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The changing of stemware throughout the tasting to match the appropriate wine is one of the highlights of a tasting at Creation. Indeed, part of the educational aspect is a demonstration of the difference size and shape can make when experiencing the same wine from different glasses. As long-time supporters of Riedel products as the benchmark for wine tasting, Creation has built a relationship not only with Riedel but also the Reciprocal Wine Company, which distributes their products in South Africa.

Such is our conviction that Creation Wines holds an annual Riedel Tasting where the press, members of the wine industry and trade clients are given a demonstration by the glass experts themselves, combined with a tantalising pairing of wine to food. This week saw the first time a member of the Riedel family presenting this tasting.

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11 Generations of Riedel

Riedel is an 11th generation family-owned business – a remarkable feat in today’s fast-paced world. Founded in 1756 by Johann Cristoph Riedel in Bohemia, the company has only experienced one hiatus (during and after World War II). Production was resumed after 12 years in Kufstein, Austria. It was here that focus was directed to high quality wine glasses.

In 1958 the Riedel Burgundy Grand Cru glass was introduced as the world’s first cultivar-specific wine glass, a key step towards Riedel’s current reputation as the ‘wine friendly glasses’. Expanding on this concept the Sommeliers Series was first released in 1973 as the world’s first gourmet glass, at which point 10th generation Georg Riedel founded the Glass Workshop – working directly with leading winemakers such as Robert Mondavi and Angelo Gaja. This close association with and focus on the wine industry has shaped Riedel’s reputation as stemware that can amplify desirable aspects in wine through the physics of tasting. Among the many supporters of Riedel is Robert Parker, influential US wine critic, who says: “The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.”

Tasting Science

As Georg Riedel is fond of saying, there is no hocus-pocus when it comes to creating the perfect glass shape for a style of wine. Every inch of the glass is designed to perform a certain function in the organoleptic procedure where the attributes of taste, sight, smell and touch are analysed and come together to form flavour.

Interestingly, Georg notes that taste is the least reliable of the senses as it varies from person to person with their respective sensitivity to each of the five distinct tastes (salt, sour, bitter, sweet and umami). The ‘tongue map’ also theorises that certain areas on the palate have varying threshold sensitivity for each of the tastes; the implication being that certain tastes are perceived more quickly in each area, which can be used to influence the overall perception of flavours. For taste, the depth of the bowl, the size of the aperture as well as the tilt or angle of the glass in relation to the palate will influence where and in what volume the wine lands when you take a sip.

Touch in wine terms is referred to as mouth feel – in white wines this is often influenced by malolactic fermentation and lees contact in oak barrels which can add creaminess and reduce astringency, while the tannin in red wine adds astringency. Once again the size and shape of the bowl and aperture as well as the tilt of the glass direct the wine to the appropriate areas of the palate, incorporating and balancing the different aspects of a given style of wine.

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Smell is a vitally important sense when appreciating wine – it is also one of the most direct senses in that to perceive an object’s aroma, molecules from that object must reach neurons in the retro-nasal cavity. The molecules bind to the neurons, triggering them and causing you to recognise aromas that are coded into our DNA. Surface area and shape are particularly important when designing a glass for a specific style of wine: greater surface area increases evaporation of esters when swirling the wine in the glass, carrying more flavour molecules to the nose, while the egg shape (inward curve) of wine glasses collects and concentrates these esters (a flaring glass would lose them and create a more diluted perception of the aromas).

To successfully create a range of glasses that work with specific styles of wine and show them in a balanced way is best accomplished by looking at the various sources of flavour in wine: the juice, the thickness of the skin, yeast and the various reactions that happen when wine is aged in oak barrels. The juice contains pre-cursors to esters which are formed when yeast metabolises sugars in the grape during fermentation, releasing hundreds of aromatic esters. The thickness of the skin in red wine determines the level of tannin and astringency in wine, while oak is porous and allows oxidation as well as being associated with lees contact and malolactic fermentation.

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Jean-Claude Martin, Georg Riedel, Carolyn Martin, Michael Fridjhon

At Creation we use four distinct shapes: a Riesling glass for un-oaked white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, a Montrachet glass for oaked white wine such as the Chardonnay, a Burgundy glass for Pinot Noir and a Bordeaux glass for the heavier reds – Merlot, the Bordeaux-style blend, Syrah and the Rhone-style blend.

To experience the dramatic effect of glass size and shape on the perception of flavours in a wine, click here to make a reservation – and join us at Creation for a wine and food pairing with the wines served in Riedel cultivar-specific glasses.

5 Interesting Wine Terms

By creation, September 11th, 2014, | No Comments »

Whether you are a casual enthusiast or a dedicated connoisseur, the world of wine has confusing jargon at every turn. Here is a list of 5 of the most commonly used terms that are essential to understanding what’s in your glass:

Vintage variation

Wines that are produced from grapes sourced from a single site over a number of vintages should express the terroir of origin fairly consistently, building a sort of terroir specific personality that becomes identifiable if one is familiar with a certain area/wine. Vintage variation is important, because the fruit used to produce the wine each vintage undergo varying conditions while ripening – you may hear someone refer to a cooler or hotter vintage, or one that was unusually wet or dry. These factors influence the flavour and structure of the wine, and while the terroir or sense of place is still present in the wine, vintage variation will account for subtle differences. This is why some vintages are highly revered in the wine world – a year in which conditions produced consistently high quality wines across a number of producers. Non-vintage wines such as most in champagne do not declare a vintage unless it is a truly exceptional one – in most cases champagne contains wines from multiple vintages that are blended to increase consistency.

Cork Taint/TCA

Opening a bottle of much anticipated wine to find it smelling musty – like mouldy cardboard or wet dog – is one of the most disappointing experiences a wine drinker can have. This wine is corked, that is, infected by TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) a harmless compound that is found not only in natural cork but also in soil, water, vegetables, wood and even fruit. TCA significantly reduces the natural flavours of wine and is most often the result of infected cork closures, although TCA can also live in cellars that are not hygienically maintained. At Creation, we use only Diam cork closures which undergo a unique process of cleaning through the use of CO2. CO2 reaches a supercritical state in which it takes on the penetrative properties of gas and the drainage properties of a liquid (this is the same process used to remove caffeine from coffee). This allows the removal of all impurities which are responsible for sensory deviations in wine closures – a perfectly neutral, natural cork.

Nose

To nose a wine is to inspect the bouquet or aroma of the wine. This is essential when evaluating or merely enjoying a wine as smell makes up 80% of flavour when combined with taste. The magic happens in the retro-nasal cavity when the taste from the palate (which can only detect sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami) and the aromas from the bouquet of the wine combine to create the full flavour profile of the wine. The correct way to nose a wine is to swirl it gently in the glass to introduce some air into the wine, but also to agitate the aroma molecules and help release them, and then to inhale through the nose.

Body

Body refers to the weight and texture of a wine; this is also often combined with the mouth feel of a wine. The best way to illustrate the difference between a light and a full-bodied wine is to compare it to water and cream. A light wine will have the same body as water; a full-bodied wine will have the body of cream, while a medium-bodied wine will be somewhere in between – akin to milk. Mouth feel introduces more specific attributes to the description, for instance a buttery texture or rough tannins.

Length

In wine terms length refers to the ability of a wine to occupy the palate – basically the wine’s staying power. Length implies not only that the wine has a lingering aftertaste, but also that the flavours and nuances develop on the palate. The flavour compounds in wine are not stable, and although development in the bottle can be a slow process, once a bottle is opened and the wine is exposed to oxygen new flavours can develop quickly. This is why wine is said to ‘develop’ in the glass, and also why young wines are often decanted or aerated.

Here is a short video with some tips for tasting our fine wine.

Situated high up on the Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge near Hermanus in Walker Bay, the specific terroir at Creation allows for the successful cultivation of a variety of grapes. Among these are three cultivars which represent plantings that are either unique in the area or represent a very small percentage of the total planting in the Hemel-en-Aarde.

 Viognier

Once very scarce, Viognier has steadily increased in popularity over the last few decades. One of the most famous examples of Old World Viognier is produced in the AOC of Condrieu in the Rhone Valley in France – and while the overall production of AOC Condrieu is relatively small at about 30 000 cases per vintage, this has increased steadily with plantings in the 1960s at only 12 hectares increasing to a current planting of over 135 hectares. Viognier is naturally lower in acidy than some other white cultivars and therefore produces wines that are creamy and elegant with typical flavours of white peach. Although Viognier tends to produce a fuller style of white wine, the un-oaked Creation Viognier is delicate with excellent minerality and pure fruit with some floral notes from the only Viognier vineyard in the area.

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 Grenache

Widely planted across the globe, Grenache is steadily gaining popularity in South Africa due not only to its predilection for warmer soils but also its incredible versatility. Used on its own to produce a lighter, fruitier style of red wine, it is most often used in red blends or as a base for rosé wines. At Creation the fruitier, floral notes of the Grenache serve as the perfect foil for the denser structure and spicy flavours present in the Syrah to produce our Rhone-style blend: the Syrah Grenache – a wine we like to describe as a sly chameleon thanks to its ability to change personality depending on the occasion – especially useful when pairing wine to food.  Grenache on the other hand is slightly lower in tannin, colour and acidity; however it possesses a delicate floral personality that creates fantastic depth of flavour and interesting nuances when blended with the heavier Syrah. It is interesting to note that in blending the two cultivars, the result is greater than the sum of its parts: the combination of Syrah and Grenache enhances the savoury notes of the wine, coaxing out the much sought after characteristic of umami in the form of ripe olive tapenade flavours.

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Semillon

Used in the production of the Creation white Bordeaux-style blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, this cultivar is essential to the structure and mouthfeel of the wine: Semillon has lower acidity, higher sugar and a unique lanolin character which provides excellent weight on the palate. Most examples of dry white Bordeaux are un-oaked, however the Semillon in premium examples responds well to oak, and can extend the bottle maturation potential considerably, supporting the wine once the initial freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc starts to fade, and developing attractive secondary and tertiary flavours for up to a decade after vintage.

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The Hemel-en-Aarde area is renowned for producing some of the finest examples of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in South Africa, and is considered to be an important New World area for burgundies.

This affinity for the delicate Pinot Noir grape has prompted co-owner and cellarmaster JC Martin to produce three stylistically unique Pinot Noirs from the estate: the Estate and Reserve Pinot Noir ranges which have recently been awarded Top 100 status in South Africa, as well as the soon to be launched Art of Pinot Noir – just four barrels selected and hand-crafted by JC and made to age. Being celebrated as a Pinot Noir producing area, one of the most frequently commented upon features of the Creation range of premium estate wines is the wide array of other cultivars produced on our 40 hectare farm. This is possible thanks to a unique combination of factors which include elevation, proximity to the ocean, soil content and structure, and slope aspect.

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Wine as expression of place is necessarily a core value when you set out to create wines of distinction, as Creation has done on the lofty Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge in Walker Bay, South Africa. Terroir is an oft-used term that is used to explain everything from the difference between old and new world wines to the difference between wines produced from grapes grown in much closer proximity. Indeed, terroir encompasses a wide variety of external influences on the growth pattern of the vine, from regional weather patterns (macro-climate), to the individual characteristics of vineyards on the same estate (meso-climate) – even right down to the climatic differences around individual bunches of grapes (micro-climate).

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As viticulturist and winemaker, Creation co-owner JC Martin selected specific clones of each cultivar for their suitability to each unique vineyard site when planting the virgin land in 2002. The 10 cultivars he chose are:

Sauvignon Blanc

Viognier

Semillon

Chardonnay

Pinot Noir

Merlot

Cabernet Sauvignon

Petit Verdot

Syrah

Grenache

Another key factor in the success of these plantings is the use of quality virus free cuttings grafted onto ideal rootstock. Virus free vineyards produce healthier fruit, and the result of these carefully maintained vineyards is a range of wines that express not only their provenance, but are also true to their cultivar-specific characteristics. An appropriate example of this feature can be seen while enjoying the world-class facilities and wine pairing experiences in the tasting room at Creation – across the lawn and through the indigenous fynbos garden, just across the dam, two cultivars not traditionally associated with each other can be seen growing alongside each other in perfect harmony: Pinot Noir and Merlot.

Click here to order these wines now, or visit www.creationwines.com to explore the farm.

The Other Bordeaux-style Blend

By creation, August 20th, 2014, | No Comments »

With over 120 000 hectares under vine across the Gironde department, the area centred around the city of Bordeaux is the largest producer of wine in France.

The finest wines from this region are world famous for their elegance and ability to age gracefully for decades – and also their price. While the typical red Bordeaux-style blend is recognised by consumers and emulated by producers in most places where wine is grown around the world, Bordeaux is also home to a lesser known yet equally notable white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

The most famous examples of white Bordeaux blends are the sweet wines of Sauternes, which are dominated by Semillon, with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle used to a lesser extent. The dry white wines of Bordeaux are also allowed to contain Sauvignon gris, Ugni blanc, Colombard, Merlot blanc, Ondenc and Mauzac; however these cultivars represent a minute proportion of the total planting, and modern white Bordeaux tends to exclude most of them.

The style is fresh and very dry, with each of the components fulfilling a function within the blend: the Sauvignon Blanc has naturally high acidity and has a flavour profile of tropical fruit, citrus, minerality and grass. The Sauvignon Blanc provides the wine with its exuberant, fresh character, while the Semillon is essential to the structure and mouthfeel of the wine: Semillon has lower acidity, higher sugar and a unique lanolin character which provides excellent weight on the palate. Most examples of dry white Bordeaux are un-oaked, however the Semillon in premium examples responds well to oak, and can extend the bottle maturation potential considerably, supporting the wine once the initial freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc starts to fade, and developing attractive secondary and tertiary flavours for up to a decade after vintage.

2 Creation Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014

At 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon, The Creation white Bordeaux-style blend evokes memories of the Atlantic sea breeze, with a saline finish and subtle oak on the Semillon component rounding out the tropical fruit and freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc to provide depth and complexity. The savoury nature of the wine makes it ideal for pairing to food, especially where the meal mirrors the maritime personality of this terroir-expressive wine. Enjoy it with oysters, shellfish or any seafood, freshly caught and prepared.

For more info on ordering this wine visit here. 

Top 3 Natural Attractions Near Creation

By creation, August 13th, 2014, | No Comments »

Creation Wines is situated on the R320 wine route, just outside the scenic coastal resort town of Hermanus in Walker Bay, South Africa in a wine growing area known as the Hemel-en-Aarde. Many visitors to the area are drawn to the exceptionally high quality, cool climate wines produced by the handful of boutique producers that have established themselves in a wine region most well known for producing Pinot Noir.

Many travellers also visit Hermanus because of its famed reputation as the premier land-based whale watching site in the world, with the annual migration of the Southern Right whale into the warm waters of Walker Bay for the calving season. Hermanus, however, has many other wonderful natural features which guests can enjoy when visiting the region:

Fernkloof Nature Reserve

Declared a reserve by the Provincial Council in 1957, Fernkloof Nature Reserve comprises nearly 2000 hectares of pristine land bordering the town of Hermanus, along the Kleinrivier Mountain Range and even includes a major portion of the coastal cliff paths that abut the Indian Ocean. It forms an integral part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the six recognised Floral Kingdoms internationally – there is no other place on earth where such a wide variety of plats can be found in such close proximity to each other.

Fernkloof Fynbos

 

A multitude of hiking trails criss-cross the reserve, allowing hikers at any level to find a suitable trail and explore the more than 1600 species that have been identified as growing in the reserve – more than in the entire United Kingdom! With access being free of charge, this is certainly a highlight of any nature lover’s stay in Hermanus.  Aside from the magical fynbos the reserve is also known for its rich birdlife (over 130 species recorded) and the myriad of wildlife that inhabit it.

Grotto Beach

Granted Blue Flag status, Grotto Beach is a massive stretch of soft white sand between the ocean, the towering mountains and the Kleinrivier Lagoon – a dramatic and beautiful setting that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike – perfect for long walks, beach games, swimming and sun-tanning, it has generous parking areas and is serviced by a fantastic little restaurant called Dutchies, the perfect place to end a day at the beach with sundowners.

 

At 18km, the beach is large enough to accommodate everyone even on the busiest summer days, there is a park for children and the waves are perfect for body-boarders, and for those who own pets, the beach is dog friendly, as long as the dogs are on a leash and any and all waste matter is picked up by the owner. Lifeguards are on duty during peak season and there are numerous educational and charity initiatives to join such as Coastcare Working, coastal monitoring by schools and the Adopt-a-beach initiative.

Sea Kayaking

Water based activities are popular throughout the year, not just during the whale watching season, and there is no better way to experience the beauty and magic of the ocean than by getting up close in a sea kayak. Walker Bay Adventures offers tours around the bay with an experienced guide in state of the art kayaks who will help you to discover the ocean in a responsible manner.

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Operating within a marine reserve, the guides are not only experts in safety and ocean first aid, but are also aware of their responsibility to make as little impact (be it noise and environmental pollution or disturbing the delicate balance of the eco-system). The advanced equipment and stable kayaks mean that anyone can hop on, and stay on. On their tours, which usually last 2 hours, you will enjoy sightings of cape fur seals, penguins, cormorants and other sea birds and marine mammals.

To contact Herman from Walker Bay Adventures contact Herman De Vries on +27 (82) 739 0159, email wbadventures@hermanus.co.za or visit http://www.walkerbayadventures.co.za/ for more information.

Over the past six years the pioneering use of canapé pairings to present our food-friendly wines to guests in the Tasting Room has seen the development of a wide selection of pairing choices. The award-winning canapé pairing, however, remains the most popular option.

A quick survey among the Tasting Room team (who taste the pairings regularly) reveals a number of different opinions on their favourite pairing. For some the classic combination of shellfish and Creation Chardonnay in the prawn, avocado Ritz and vanilla citrus aioli canapé wins every time, while others prefer the delicate nuances of the goat’s-milk cheese panna cotta and beetroot with lentil salsa paired with the Creation Pinot Noir. When discussion turns to feedback from our guests, however, one match always seems to win hearts the first time around: the Creation Merlot paired with the cauliflower and gorgonzola soup with herbed sourdough croutons.

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The magic in this pairing is the combination of a creamy white soup with a robust red wine – the Creation Merlot – which has spicy aromas and a palate rich in mocha and dark chocolate notes as well as a firm tannin structure. The earthy creaminess of the cauliflower and the warmth of the soup help to ground these tannins and round the mouthfeel perfectly, while the salty gorgonzola contrasts with and as a result lifts the bounty of dark berry fruits in the wine.

The effect on the perception of tannins in the wine before and after eating the soup is quite astonishing. The reaction that causes dryness in red wine (phenols (tannin) binding to proteins) is far less noticeable at higher temperatures and while it is not desirable to serve your wine too warm, raising the temperature on your palate with a piping hot soup will have a similar effect. This softening effect combined with the delicious flavours of the wine and the soup makes for a very memorable pairing.

The good news is that by ordering the Merlot online now [click here to order], and following the simple recipe from Chef Warwick Taylor [click here for the recipe], you can try this popular pairing in your own home. To book a wine pairing canapé experience in the Creation Tasting Room [click here],call (028) 212 1107 or email info@creationwines.com.