WORDS: MARANA BRAND IMAGE: SUPPLIED

We immediately knew we were at the right place – welcoming smiles, warm atmosphere, crisp white tablecloths, candle light… And perfecting the romantic ambiance, we were elegantly ushered to our table with a glass of salmon-pink Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose MCC in hand, while soft music filled the cosy nook where the rest of the world faded away.

We were part of a smallish group of guests privileged enough to experience yet another of the President’s monthly UnWined and Dine wine-pairing evenings, where knowledgeable, charming waiters were at our beck and call. This time, the President’s executive chef Jacques Swart teamed up with Haute Cabrière head cellar master Tim Hook to spoil us with the best of both worlds – something they achieved exquisitely.

Tim explains Haute Cabrière focusses only on two cultivars – chardonnay and pinot noir. The MCCs and related wines are produced under Pierre Jourdan, the name of the French Huguenot and first owner of the over 300-year-old estate. The Belle Rose is testament to their “fruit-driven and approachable” style of MCC, as is the 2010 Pierre Jourdan Blanc de Blancs MCC which accompanies the amuse-bouche, a rich and creamy eryngii mushroom custard, served with other minute mushroom wonders, a walnut relish, and wild rocket adding a surprising sharpness to the velvety dish.

Next up, our starter of French onion soup was by no means ordinary – plated differently with a medley of cress and snow peas and accompanied by a delightful crispy bruschetta laden with Maldon salt, thyme and ricotta. The Pierre Jourdan Tranquille was the perfect partner to calm down the symphony of tastes on our plates.

Not always something to single out as memorable on a menu, the palate cleanser was in a different league. Delicate ice pickled pressed apple, and a cinnamon, nutmeg and star aniseed gel created a powerful explosion of freshness in the mouth, the sourness of the apple balanced beautifully by a glass of the pretty Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Rosé.

This combination prepared us well for the main course – duck leg confit with a hint of citrus, served with a pistachio nut and cranberry streusel adding a bit of sweetness, accompanied by a basil spätzle surprise. This dish was honoured with the 2015 Haute Cabrière Pinot Noir Réserve, a phenomenal vintage, the combination celebrating the best of both.

To finish it all impeccably, the honey and white chocolate mousse mille-feuille was as pretty as it was super delicious, a piece of hazelnut praline adding some crisp to it. Together with the magnificent Pierre Jourdan Ratafia made from 1983 chardonnay vineyards, a fascinating alternative to the often heavy and sweet dessert wines, our gastronomical feast was concluded perfectly.

The Presidential pairing evenings are a monthly affair; each time Jacques conjure up the most delicious inventions with the wines of a different estate, and each time it’s an extraordinary culinary journey into new tastes and combinations, all gorgeously plated, and served with care in this Cape Town institution at the foot of Lion’s Head. Book online for the next one – this is not just eating out, it’s an opportunity to make memories.

UnWined and Dine at the President
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