The spirit of Creation brings South African wines to Mayfair for lunch
PUBLISHED: 21:57 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:50 07 June 2017
Surrey Life's Matthew Williams joins South African vineyard Creation Wines for a mini-reunion lunch at The Belmont hotel in London
Regular Surrey Life readers may remember that in the back end of 2016 I spread my wings a little further than my normal county boundaries with a trip to South Africa, centred on Cape Town.
It was an eye-opening experience and the place I found was vibrant, exciting and brimming with the spirit of adventure.
While there were many highlights, one of my favourites was an hour and a half away from the bustling metropolis past Stellenbosch and towards Hermanus.
I fell in love with Creation Wines even before I tried the wine or spoke to the passionate people behind the vineyard.
You arrive down a dusty track surrounded by vines and a mirror lake to a modern ranch-like tasting room with a stunning sculpture on the front lawn and a mountain view. The sun beating down, a cloudless deep blue sky above, it’s easy to imagine you’ve slipped into a dream state.
The picturesque vineyard was established in 2002 by Swiss-trained winemaker, Jean-Claude (JC) Martin, and his South African wife, Carolyn.
Despite the temperature being in the 30s when we visited, the Hemel-en-Aarde (heaven and earth in Afrikaans) Ridge Ward of Walker Bay is considered a cool-climate wine region. This makes for elegant wines and they released their first in 2007.
Since then they’ve been picking up awards around the world, culminating in their flagship 2015 The Art of Pinot Noir (95 points) and 2015 The Art of Chardonnay (94 points) being lauded by British Master of Wine, Tim Atkin.
While you’re at the vineyard, there’s the option of being whisked through vibrant tasting dishes prepared by their chefs with various wine vintages matched to each. As lunchtime treats go, it’s hard to beat and just a shame it’s so far away.
Sunshine on a rainy day
So how did I find myself traipsing through London’s puddle strewn streets on a miserable spring day to meet up with JC, Carolyn and a select few diners?
Well, while researching my summer pubs piece for June’s Surrey Life magazine, I discovered that they happened to be friends with the owners of The Percy Arms in Chilworth and that got us chatting again. Small world indeed – and one of the joys of social media.
And so it was I entered the plush entrance of Mayfair’s The Beaumont shaking off what felt like a week’s worth of rain and hoping the wines transported me back to that very special place (apologies to any South Africans reading this, I know how difficult it has been on your side of the world with fire and drought and can only hope you get a change in fortunes soon).
Arriving a little early, I was met with a glass of Creation’s delightfully crisp Elation MCC (méthode cap classique is the South African label for sparkling wine).
It was a grand chance to catch-up with Carolyn about their European tour and the many top class restaurants they had been visiting.
Fresh from the Scottish hospitality of Champany Inn, a restaurant with rooms and wine shop near Linlithgow (for those with better north of the border geography than me), they’d already had a breakfast tasting and were lining up a bustling sounding evening event. Not a bad way to spend a few weeks outside harvest season.
Sat round a boardroom-style table, surrounded by photos of famous faces who have spent time in the area over the years, the conversation was easy with our like-minded group and I found myself encouraging the room to pop on a plane out to SA for a visit.
The Belmont’s chefs did a sterling job with their chopped yellowfin tuna, avocado and sesame, which was matched with a favourite from my trip, the 2016 Creation Viognier. It’s all peaches and cream, and as utterly moreish as I remember.
Next up, a supremely hench and beautifully cooked veal chop with grilled mushroom and tomato was matched with the equally big-hitting but elegantly complex 2015 Creation Art of Pinot Noir.
Finally, the biggest piece of Apple Pie a la Mode I’ve ever seen (aka the perfect portion for me – seriously, I could have easily forgotten it was lunchtime and carried on eating it all afternoon and evening) was matched with 2016 Creation Chardonnay, which brought a hint of sun-kissed pears and vanilla.
Suffice to say, I’m hoping to make my way back over to South Africa again one day – but at least, for now, I’ve had my memories of heaven and earth refreshed by Creation’s delicious wines.
• For more information about Creation Wines, visit www.creationwines.com
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