THERE are wine tastings, and then there is Creation. Nothing is ordinary about an experience on this beautiful farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley near Hermanus, which can include food, art, and even an overnight stay.
Owner Carolyn Martin is famous for her exceptional – and often unusual – pairings, for her creativity, and her exquisite attention to detail. No sooner had the ink dried on the regulation that wine could be delivered, I received a box of Creation’s finest (pictured above), and some tasty goodies like macarons, salt and dukkah, all of which were a tonic for the soul. During lockdown, Carolyn and her team have come up with a novel idea to allow wine lovers all over the country have a taste, not only of Creation’s superb wines, but become fully immersed in an interactive encounter with a personal guide.
This is how it works.
The Alchemy Tasting Kit can be ordered online. Inside the box are six little bottles of wine, precisely measured for a tasting. In addition, there are some intriguing accompaniments, like a sea shell, salt, liquorice root powder, and rose spray, as well as biscuits, chips and nuts. That’s a very simplified explanation.
As the customer, you then get to choose who will host your tasting. This was a challenging step for me, because I don’t know any of these staff members personally, so I winged it and picked Pamela Gordon, aka Miss Sparkling (what’s not to love about that?). Her bio reads: “Allow me to be your one and only shopper to help guide you through a personal, educated decision on your wine purchases. Our relationship will be based on trust and I simply cannot wait to assist you with both ordering and delivery.”
No regrets. Pamela and I ended up having huge fun with the tasting, just the two of us via a Whatsapp video call (technological challenges meant Zoom feels the same way about me as I feel about it, which is basically a hard no). However, the beauty of this is, if you want to do it in a group, with friends in four (or more) different locations, anywhere the wine can be delivered, you can. How cool is that?
Each little bottle is labelled and numbered, and Pamela instructed me to chill some of them beforehand. Ahead of the appointed time, I set out my glasses, my wines, and all the bits and pieces to go with them.
Creation Sauvignon Blanc has alluring aromas of elderflower, papaya, cassis, passion fruit and kumquat, which is right up my SB alley – tropical, not green. On the palate, clean minerality rules. You taste this with an inhalation of Maldon salt, and holding a shell against your ear, which enhances that even further.
The Viognier is described as joyful and vivacious with pertinent peach snuggling up to the secret subtleties of ripe pear. It’s not often bottled on its own, and is more likely to be used in rounding out a nice red blend. It’s paired with spicy soy cashew nuts with miso.
The Chardonnay offers “glorious layers of sun-kissed fruit enhanced by fresh minerality and hints of spice.” With that, you get to nibble on smoked paprika, parmesan and poppy seed biscuits, which for my money, should be ordered by the packetful simply to enjoy whenever.
Moving on to the reds, the valley is renowned for its Pinot Noir, all red berries and earthiness. Its partners are beetroot crisps, King Oyster mushroom chips, a poppy seed za’atar cracker, and a heart-shaped miso pretzel studded with red wine salt. It was suggested I get some goat’s cheese for this pairing which on the cracker, brought a wonderful combination of colours to the table and a rich creaminess to the palate.
The Syrah Grenache Rhône-style blend has intense flavours of ripe plum, black pepper, tapenade and umami. The tiniest dab of liquorice powder takes it to a whole new unexpected level.
Last but not least, the Grenache Noir Viognier Rosé. Why at the end? Because it’s dessert. A spritz of rosewater and cardamom spray refreshes the nose, and the Turkish delight is a mouthful of pure pleasure which utterly delighted me.
The kit includes the Creation Flavour Wheel as well as the Creation Tasting Chart. The latter essentially follows the five primary taste groups of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami and explores the elements of smell or aroma, temperature, texture, and memories and experience. Before your tasting you will receive six short videos pertaining to the six wines in the kit as well as a dedicated Creation Spotify playlist to create the perfect vibe and mood for your virtual pairing.
If you are in the area, you can of course visit the farm to buy wine and to see Metamorphosis, the new art installation by Janko de Beer, inspired by objects found in nature, which he reinterprets and transforms into his sculptures (pictured above). The sculptures are cast in resin and bronze, with unexpectedly rich and unusual patinas. All pieces are for sale. You can pick up a gourmet meal to take home, or you can order online for collection or delivery in the Overberg/Overstrand. There are also recipes to download from the website.
Click here for more information.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©