AS A regular winner of Diner's Club wine list awards the Beach Hotel's Ginger restaurant seemed particularly appropriate for an elegant food and wine pairing last week.
On promotion, however, was not the wine list but a selection of vintages from Springfield, the Robertson estate that produces very little rated less than 4 to 4½ stars. Most of them sell for more than R100 so bang goes my R50 benchmark.
The food, of course, had to match the occasion and the welcoming salmon fish cake canapés served with a 2011 cuvée sauvignon blanc gave early notice that chef John Hodder had a tasty touch with the solids.
Salmon and sav-blanc made a good match. This 2011 night- harvested vintage was crisp and grassy, with a touch of passion fruit to shield the dry finish and I could have stayed with it all night.
No chance of that, though, because the first of the sit-down courses, a tasty tomato gazpacho with sourdough croutons, was at hand. What wine, I wondered, would Springfield's Jeanette Bruwer select as a match?
A Portuguese style semillon blend perhaps? Not surprisingly it was another sav-blanc, this time the Life From Stone version with less grass and lemon and "sweaty undertones", as Platter describes it, that I first mistook for wood.
And then chardonnay, oh chardonnay! What are we going to do with you? This one is under Springfield's Wild Yeast label and unwooded. The 4t/ha yield suggests top quality grapes and flavour retention has been assisted by night harvesting. There were some reservations until the prawn bisque risotto arrived – and what a transformation. So chardonnay as a seafood buddy seems to be the answer.
And so to the reds, starting with the 2010 whole berry cab-sav to accompany roast breast of duck with a tasty "lef" (shouldn't that be leg?) pastille and spiced red cabbage. Whole berry fermentation has meant no pip tannin and a smoother palate. Again from low, 4t/ha older vines and it will improve further with more rest.
Lindt chocolate with hazelnut and hot chocolate mousse sounds like a shoo-in for a noble late harvest but Springfield doesn't make one. So we tried it instead with a five-year-old Bordeaux blend of cab-sav, cab-franc and merlot.
Nice food, nice wine but sadly this was no marriage made in heaven and here again was proof that Bordeauxs are best-left to red meats and pasta.
Overall, however, a special evening and, for R250, at an undemanding price.