Picture: Stellenbosch Big Easy Bar Keeper Sithembele Gumede Serving a Glass of Rust en Vrede Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
I had a Rust en Vrede 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - and South African oysters - at the Restaurant and Wine Bar “Big Easy” in Stellenbosch.
The Big Easy in Stellenbosch
The Big Easy is arguably the best place in Stellenbosch to taste the wines Stellenbosch. It serves more than 170 wines from Stellenbosch and surrounds to complement their excellent food. You find in particular the wines of the Big Easy co-owners Jean Engelbrecht (Rust en Vrede and Guardian Peak Wines), Johann Rupert (L’Ormarins), Paul Harris (Audacia) and Ernie Els (Ernie Els wines) well represented.
The Big Easy Restaurant and Wine Bar is in La Gratitude in Dorp Street Stellenbosch. La Gratitude was built in 1798 by the first Reverend of Stellenbosch and boasts a blend of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Golf star Ernie Els lent his nickname to the restaurant and wine bar, which is featuring memorabilia and photos of him. The brasserie-styled eatery offers classical food that smacks of local flavour, created by local born chef Simone Rossouw. Starters range from R45 to R70, mains from R75 to R170 and desserts from R45.
Oysters in South Africa
I had oysters (Crassostrea gigas) with Cabernet Sauvignon sauce - an unusual, but very delicious combination. The Japanese oyster Crassostrea gigas forms the mainstay of the South African oyster farming industry. It has now been cultured along the South African - and Namibian - coast for 30 years. Over the last century, oysters have been extensively moved around the globe and, although originating in the north west Pacific, the Crassostrea gigas presently has established populations on all major coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere (with the exception of the Atlantic coast of North America) as well as on the coasts of Tasmania, southern and eastern Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Around 4 million oysters are currently produced annually in South Africa; the Namibian oyster production amounts to 6 million oysters per year, with about 70 per cent exported to South Africa.
Picture: Oysters With Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce
Rust en Vrede
Through centuries there were periods when wine was produced, but for the last 33 years Rust en Vrede has specialized in producing red wine with the focus on Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rust en Vrede was established in 1694 by the then Governor of the Cape, Willem Adrian van der Stel. It was originally made up of a larger property but in the early 1700’s was divided into two whereby the original section remained as Rust en Vrede. The first house on the estate was built in 1780 followed by the cellar in 1785. In 1790 the larger manor house was built. At the end of 1977 the Engelbrecht family took residence on Rust en Vrede. The Engelbrecht family has been grape growers since the early 1700’s and by moving to Rust en Vrede, became wine producers for the first time. Rust en Vrede is now headed by Jean Engelbrecht. Rust en Vrede produces only 20 000 cases of wine per year on its 55 hectares of land, of which 65% is exported to more than 30 countries around the world.
President Nelson Mandela selected Rust en Vrede to be served at the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize dinner in Oslo, where he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2000, Rust en Vrede became the first South African winery to be included on Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World list.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Technical notes: The Rust enVrede vineyards are situated on north facing slopes, hence the slightly warmer and more moderate climatic conditions. Situated in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, cool sea breezes help reduce the vineyard temperatures during the summer months, extending the ripening period and thus allowing for big, well-structured wines to develop. The vineyards are carefully trellised and the canopy is managed in a way to ensure optimum phenolic ripeness of the grapes. Two ‘green harvests' are done annually whereby the crop is reduced to between 6-8 tons per hectare to intensify flavors. Fermented is in open top fermentation vats. The wines are aged in French 300 liter barrels for 18 months. The Cabernet clones (6) are kept separate throughout vinification, each getting a unique treatment of yeast and wood. After 18 months, the different clones are blended, bottled and left to mature for at least 18 months before release.
Tasting Notes: Dark ruby in the glass, lead pencil and cigar box aromas are dominant with a subtle hint of toffee, dark cherry aromas are also prevalent on the nose, good struture, big in stature with a prominent oak spice character on the palate, notes of tobacco and liquorice on the finish, this wine shows the potential to age superbly.
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