The first time I tasted Vondeling’s Babiana was a little more than two years ago at the Jozi Wine Route. The Jozi Wine Route initiative was unfortunately very short lived, but my fondness for Vondeling Wines, specifically the Babiana, is still going strong.
So what is it about Babiana that caught my attention initially? The 2017 Babiana is a white blend consisting of 64% Chenin Blanc, 19% Viognier, 8.5% Roussanne and 8.5% Grenache Blanc. I have a bit of an obsession with older chenins, so the combination of grapes from the 30-plus year old chenin vines, blended with of my favourite varietals (viognier) just made my taste buds jump with joy! I fully understand why this is one of Vondeling’s flagship wines.
Babiana is named after Babiana Noctiflora, a rare species of fynbos found only in the Paardeberg Mountain, where Vondeling wines are located. Babiana Noctiflora belongs to the iris family. This species is now endangered, because it has been replaced by vineyards and fruit orchards. Vondeling Wines is renowed for it’s conservation efforts, so they are looking after this scarce, delicate plant. Read more about Vondeling’s Conservation efforts here: https://www.vondelingwines.co.za/news/tag/Conservation
A couple of months ago, Vondeling shared this recipe with me, a food pairing recommendation for the Babiana. Seeing that this dish is a chicken tagine, with lovely spice and dried fruit, I thought it would be best saved for cooler weather. And that, my friends, is what we’re currently experiencing here in Gauteng! Jan usually takes care of the cooking, but he’s working very hard on an assignment due tomorrow, so I took the gap – my turn to make lunch. I am trying very hard not to use emoji’s.
Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds
Here is the original recipe as it appears on Vondeling Wine’s website: https://www.vondelingwines.co.za/news/feast-on-chicken-tagine-with-apricots-almonds-and-babiana
I am going to copy it here, seeing that I made a few very minor tweaks – I noted my changes below, so if you see that the dish/ingredients in my photos look a bit different, that’s why.
10 pieces of free-range chicken, preferably thighs (I used chicken thighs and drumsticks, 8 in total. Although this is technically a meal for two, I knew that I would want some more for dinner or lunch tomorrow)
3 Tbsp butter
Glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
20g tagine spice (see recipe below)
80g dried, soft Turkish apricots
80g pitted dates (I omitted the dates, seeing that The Hubster isn’t too keen on it)
2 medium red-skinned sweet potatoes / yams, cut into large chunks (I swopped the sweet potatoes with 8 baby potatoes, quartered)
500ml chicken stock
50g tomato paste
1 lemon, juice only
100g flaked almonds, roasted (damn! you won’t believe it, but I totally missed the ‘roasted’ part in the recipe. No harm done though, it was still delicious, roasted or not)
For the tagine spice mix (kindly pre-mixed and provided):
2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander powder
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan and brown chicken pieces on all sides.
Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the onions and garlic to the pan, cook until lightly coloured. Add in the tagine spice and fry for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the honey and apricots and cook for a further couple of minutes.
4. Pour in the chicken stock, tomato paste and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, season to taste.
5. Place chicken and potatoes into a suitable ovenware dish and cover with the sauce.
Cover with a lid and place into a preheated oven and cook for 1 hour until potatoes are soft.
6. Remove from the oven. Serve on couscous and a sprinkling of almond flakes
This is such a beautifully fragrant dish. The tagine spice mix is not ‘spicy’ at all, just filled to the brim with warm and rich flavour. The hint of white pepper and the lovely floral properties of Babiana works so well with the dried apricots, ginger and cinnamon in the tagine. What a wonderful pairing Vondeling! Thank you for the opportunity to savour it.
Vondeling 2017 Babiana, tasting notes, vineyards, vinification, pairing recommendations: https://www.vondelingwines.co.za/babiana-2017
Vondeling Wines website: https://www.vondelingwines.co.za/