When you search for “Zinfandel” and “South Africa” on the internet, “Blaauwklippen Vineyards” appears within the first search results. With good reason, of course. Blaauwklippen, one of the original Stellenbosch wine estates, is still one of the few South African wine estates who produces quality Zinfandel wines. Being this estate’s flagship grape, it is no surprise that Blaauwklippen was the also wine estate outside of the USA who joined ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) in 2008.
I did a bit of research about this varietal. Surprisingly, I came across different versions of where it originated from. For some reason, I thought it was Italian (yes, I know, so many facepalms). The acclaimed Wine Folly website (and my reference book Wine Folly Magnum Edition The Master Guide to the World of Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack), claims that it originated from Croatia. This grape landed up in California shortly thereafter though, so it actually became popular in that new world wine region instead.
A couple of months ago, during our annual trip to the Winelands, we visited Blaauwklippen on a cool and rainy winters day. I haven’t been there in ages (it used to be one of the wine estates I remember visiting as a child with my parents – of course, myself and my brother didn’t really appreciate it back then. You know what kids are like!). It is easy to see why this is such a popular stop on the Stellenbosch Wine Route. The interior and tasting room area was been revamped since my last visit several years ago. What a gorgeous spot!
This was also the first time I was introduced to Blaauwklippen’s MCC Zinfandel. Yes, guys and gals, you read correctly. A Methode Cap Classique made from 100% Zinfandel. Pretty unique, I would say!
Naturally, we had to buy some to bring home. Some gorgeous labelling to boot!
A week or so later, we got the news that the newest releases of Blaauwklippen’s 2017 Red and 2018 White Zinfandel have just seen the light, and as an added bonus, the new labelling is so modern, sleek and luxurious – a brand new look. And, we were fortunate to get some samples to taste. Yes please – and thank you.
With Zinfandel Day coming up (celebrated every third Wednesday in November), we decided to also dedicate an entire day sipping and appreciating Blaauwklippen’s Zinfandel. What better way to do explore the taste and versatility of this varietal, than to whip up a meal to go with it.
First up, the MCC. You can have a look at the tasting notes here: http://www.blaauwklippen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/MCC-ZInfandel-2017-Fact-Sheet.pdf
The recommendation is for this bubbly to be enjoyed with seafood, so instinctively I took it as an excuse to have sushi. If you expected me to make it from scratch, you will be sorely mistaken – purely because the last time I made sushi I ended up eating the same maki for 4 days in a row. I will have to work on my portioning and that may take some experimenting. So maybe next time!
Although these sushi’s weren’t handmade (by my hands) it still tasted pretty delicious.
I’m sure you noticed the beautiful colour of this MCC, simply gorgeous! The crisp and well-balanced acidity, combined with the berry notes and the nose of biscuits worked well with the salmon sushi. We didn’t have a lot of soy sauce and wasabi with this, because we didn’t want it to overpower this fragrant bubbly.
Time to move on the White Zinfandel. I mentioned the new, luxurious labels on this release. Just take a look at this.
A thing of beauty. What’s inside the bottle matters as well, of course, so we were keen to try it. Here is the tasting notes if you’d like to have a look at it: http://www.blaauwklippen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/White-Zinfandel-2018-New-Label-Fact-Sheet.pdf
When Jan and I were talking about possible food pairings for the #ZinTwins (yes, we came up with that one), he was of the opinion that these wines should do well with most kinds of protein, with a bit of mild acidity in the mix. Seeing that his recent obsession is creating homemade pizzas in his new EarthFire pizza oven, we thought it would be fun to have these wines with pizza. It is versatile and playful, so why not!
Reading the tasting notes of the White Zinfandel a few words jumped out at us, like “lemon-lavender notes”, “fresh nose”, “rich mineral texture” and “fresh zesty acidity”. To match those flavours we opted for a pizza with a homemade tomato base and mild mozzarella. Once cooked, Jan topped it with strips Prosciutto Crudo and fresh rocket.
Fresh, zesty acidity matching perfectly.
Take a moment to appreciate the beautiful, blush colour of the Blaauwklippen White Zinfandel. Yes, if you are not familiar with white zins this will come as a surprise to you – in case you expected a ‘white’ wine.
Now moving on to the Red Zinfandel! You’re welcome to reference the tasting notes here: https://www.blaauwklippen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Zinfandel-2017-Fact-Sheet-New-Label.pdf
Reading the tasting notes it made sense to go with a ‘meaty’ dish, so Jan went with a ‘meat lovers’ pizza. Again, using the homemade tomato base to add a bit of acidity, topped with salami, ham, crispy bacon and a good helping of mozzarella cheese. Topped with fresh basil leaves, this was surely a mouthwatering pizza!
Add a glass (or two) of slightly chilled Red Zinfandel….
If you are keen to explore and experiment with this interesting (and versatile) varietal, why don’t you check out the offerings from Blaauwklippen. They have also launched a Zinfandel Gin recently, so there truly is a Zin for everyone: Blaauwklippen Brings Signature Zinfandel Wine into New Gin Range #PR
For more info on Blaauwklippen, do check out their website and other social media channels: https://www.blaauwklippen.com/