I can’t think of a better way to spend Women’s Day than to be fed delicious food and to be served incredible wine. Truly, it is a dream come true. But imagine that wine was created by a woman? Yes, that does make it even better. And hold on a minute. Are you being serenaded with opera by the one and only Fortunato Mazzone? Oh yes, apparently these are the ways in which Women’s Day can be epic.
Without even being aware what I was in store for, I got in my car and headed to the new jewel of Pretoria, Time Square, to enjoy a food & wine pairing at Forti’s. One of the best parts of the evening was that I got to sit with some of the best people I know: The darling of purple and basically royalty, Wenchy; My best person I’ve met in recent times and an incredible lover of life, Boozy Foodie; And an amazing woman who shares my passion for food and no BS, The Food Musketeer.
After being greeted by Forti himself, we were soon introduced to the lovely Samantha O’Keefe, the iconic wine maker behind Lismore Wines. Lismore Estate Vineyards is tucked into the foothills of the dramatic Sonderend mountain range near Greyton. Californian Samantha has found paradise and the perfect terroir. Her passion combined with vines planted at 300 meters, chilled by the winter snow and nourished by the African summer sun, produce classic cool climate wines which are rich, complex and lovingly hand crafted.
We started with an amuse bouche of tempura, served with a fruity yoghurt. This was accompanied by the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. Unusually, the Lismore wine is fermented in barrels for 11 months. The distinct minerality of this Sauvignon Blanc is a clear indication of the cool climate in which it is grown. A gorgeous wine that is made to accompany food. A note here is that this wine is ideal for aging. As Forti says, “The wine really demands attention”.
Next up was our starter, a smoked salmon rose served with delectable bites of punchy flavour like rocket, red onion and radish. This was accompanied by the absolutely magnificent Age of Grace Viognier. This wine was the highlight of the evening and I cannot heap it with enough praise. A generous, full wine, voluptuous and divine. The grapes come from Elgin vines, with influences of that region’s rose quartz soil.
My favourite dish of the evening was definitely the pasta course, an exquisite seafood pasta dish laced with duck fat and a touch of lemon zest. If I could have licked my plate, I would have. And I will go back for more of this delicious tagliolini. This dish was served with the Reserve Chardonnay, which Forti calls “big and ballsy”, with enough acidity to cut through the fat of the pasta dish and create a harmony of flavours.
At the last, for our main, we were served a lovely pink slice of Beef Wellington, with the Lismore Syrah. The Syrah gets marks for its amazing mineral tones, and is elegant and surprisingly fresh. As one wine critic wrote, “dramatic is putting it mildly”. Samantha herself says, in terms of the minerality of the wine, “it’s like licking a wet rock”, and admits that though this is an odd way to describe the wine, it’s accurate.
Dessert was a selection of Häagen-Dazs. Though I refrained from enjoying it due to my dramas with sugar, I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick photo.