Laborie – Johannesburg – May 2015
Building up to the latest comewinewithus wine and beer evening spent with Laborie and Bar di Bar (a first for us!) and hosted at Pronto in Johannesburg, we held a last minute pre-event meeting in glitzy Sandton. Inescapably the conversation drifted towards comparing Joburg & Cape Town. The main question we mused about revolved round the important question of whether wine can ever taste as good up here in Joburg vs. leisurely sipping it in the Winelands, sprawled underneath vineyard & mountain.
Strangely the answers soon morphed away from the original topic (unfair as it was!) to start comparing the consumer of wine found in Joburg vs. those stalwart wine connoisseurs one might expect to find in the Cape. Joburg – seemingly consisting of cold, fast-paced corporate type individuals – could easily be accused of judging wines merely by its label & the number of gold-stars received. In the same vein of thinking, Capetonians could then be painted as arty, careful judges of wine-character, not so easily deceived by labels, price, glitz & glamour. The picture that sprang into my mind was something like time rich investigators worthy of Sherlock Holmes discovering little gems that are paradise to drink – and affordable as well!
Choice, it seemed, lies at the heart of the conundrum Joburgers face. Capetonians’ close proximity to little startup wine-farms implies the luxury of choosing amongst an incalculable number of options, whilst their cousins up in Joburg are faced with what distributors choose to send us.
Having spent quality time in both towns I can earnestly say that Joburgers have an undeserved reputation of “all work and no play”. Each event CWWU has held in the economic heartland of SA, has impressed on me the fact that Joburgers are a friendly bunch – eager to explore good quality wines over an excellent plate of food. So – the solution to our topic of conversation seem to require a great setting to enjoy wine, and the choice of new and fresh options to savor!
If anything, Pronto proved to be the ideal setting for exactly this to happen… Pronto is a truly Italian restaurant situated within the Colony Shopping Centre. Known for its quality pastas and specialty dishes, Pronto has a reputation for delivering consistent quality food, on the back of great service – and is run by brother and sister team Paul & Natasha Maciel. Paul is also known as “the secret Jozi chef”. Pronto certainly succeeds in making their customers feel at home. Pronto loves – and succeeds – in being a neighborhood restaurant with a sense of community felt by its loyal customer following. And drinking wine is far more than just tasting & comparing. It’s certainly all about mood. Pronto proved itself to be the perfect backdrop for the evening that followed.
It all started on a high note – as the guests arrived they were treated to a glass of Laborie Brut MCC, paired with Chef Paul’s canapés consisting of smoked salmon tartare, avocado & kalamata olive piadine. I can think of few things as delightful as this specific Laborie MCC. It wouldn’t be remiss if my kitchens’ tap started running this wonderful bubbly. Although many guests knew the Laborie label, most were unaware of the fact that the farm produced such a brilliant MCC. Fixing these glaring voids in knowledge is what we at CWWU are about! This pleasant find set the scene for winemaker Kobus van der Merwe to start introducing the guests to other Laborie wines they were going to experience throughout the evening.
The first wine & food pairing consisted of Laborie Chardonnay / Pinot Noir 2014 (retailing @ R48) enjoyed with an excellent prawn arancini (grilled prawns, salt & pepper squid and seafood bisque). Judging by the intent tasting, re-tasting (several times if I might add) of both food & wine the combination proved to be a winner.
The second tapas consisted of salsiccia, porcini mushrooms, creamy polenta & spinach. This was then coupled with Laborie’s Merlot / Cabernet 2013 (retailing @ R60). This blend can only be described as heaven in a bottle. The main problem is to stop tasting. I myself often find the bottle gone empty before fully deciding what I love most about it!
The third wine to be introduced was the Laborie “Jean Taillefert” 2012 (retailing @ R220). This rich wine was paired with a winning combination of oxtail ragu, parpardelle & reggiano. Both food and wine complemented each other very well.
At this stage of the evening I could see the anticipation was again mounting – people were eager to hear from Conrad Harley to introduce Bar di Bar & the craft beers he would serve for tasting. Three beers were introduced, namely Saggy Stone California Steam – Green Goose Organic Ficksburger, Gallows Hill – Jewell & Co Coppa and lastly Darling Brew – Jewell & Co Saucisson Sec. These sturdy, excellent beers were served with charcuterie platters where all the cheeses served were made from organic pasture reared milk products. The selection of meats was from Chef Neill Jewell at LQF and made from pasture reared pork from Glen Oaks in Cape Town. All highly recommendable in my humble opinion!
Craft beers have indeed become somewhat of an institution in South Africa the last year or so – and the fact the Laborie has ventured into this awesome field proves the importance of craft beer to the wine industry in general. This obviously will give guys a much needed excuse to do several beer tastings during the week: “But darling, even Laborie is serious about beer – and so am I!”
Coming to the end of and evening like this is always sad – and requires a highlight to sweeten the looming departure back into real life. Dessert was served coupled with a very special dessert wine from Laborie, named Pineau de Laborie. Just think again of the dessert makes my mouth water again – consisting of apple-pear-calvados crumble, crème anglaise & berry sorbet. People were clearly unwilling to let go of the magical evening woven together by great company, heavenly food & sumptuous wines. Rest assured! The next CWWU is round the corner…
About Laborie wines
Laborie Wine Farm is nestled in the fertile Paarl valley, with the beautiful Paarl rock as background.
A visit to Laborie affords you the opportunity to reminisce about the Cape as it once was. The farm was granted to Isaac Taillefert in 1691, named after the district of La Bri in France. Laborie has been producing fine wines since 1698 and more than 300 years on, is one of the oldest operational wine farms in South Africa. Laborie produces some of the best Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wines, an array of award-winning wines, an estate brandy and a unique fortified Pinotage dessert wine.
Visitors can overnight in the tranquil guest house and enjoy a delectable meal at Harvest at Laborie. In testament to Isaac Taillefert, Laborie continues to deliver in the best French heritage tradition.
Read more on: www.laboriewines.co.za
The popular 1975 mobile Volkswagen bar has found a home at Laborie! They say in wine you find truth and in beer your find happiness. At Bar Di Bar these two worlds combine in perfect harmony, offering a selection of South Africa’s best craft beer to be enjoyed with laidback and tasty fare. This quirky setup takes one back to the 1970’s, complete with working jukebox with Saturday Night Fever spinning on the decks – an experience not to be missed!
Read more on: http://www.bardibar.co.za/
About Pronto Restaurant
Read all reviews about Pronto on the following link: