ON a recent trip to Hermanus, a visit to Creation Wines was on the itinerary. I don’t know what I was thinking when I initially turned it down, but after bumping into Carolyn Martin and being seduced by her enthusiasm – as well as a string of delightful memories of meals there – the brunch pairing was restored.
It’s a fabulous treat and should never be turned down. Learn from my almost-mistake, people.
The story of Creation Wines is a partnership and marriage just as significant as that of the wine and food. Swiss-born Jean-Claude (JC) and South African-born Carolyn Martin (née Finlayson) both come from wine pioneering stock spanning at least three generations and two continents, proving themselves more than worthy of taking up the challenge in 2002 of transforming the 40 hectares of land which had never been planted with vineyards before. The range today includes fine reds and whites under three labels, an easy-drinking and affordable entry level range, and an MCC. They’ve recently launched four new wines which I’m waiting for just the right moment to open – Cool Climate Chenin Blanc, a Roussanne Viognier, Grenache Noir Viognier, and a Reserve Syrah.
The farm is so beautiful, and around the property in the garden and the tasting room/restaurant you’ll find Nanette Ranger’s gorgeous sculptures, from life-size to small and delicate ethereal pieces as centre pieces on the tables. You won’t know where to look – at these fantastical creatures or the view. Then the food and wine starts coming, and demands all your attention.
The restaurant and tasting room are always super busy, and famous for pairings – gelato, chocolate, vegan, charcuterie, cheese, small plates, and the spectacular Story of Creation…there is even one for young adults, and a non-alcoholic tea pairing. The brunch is served daily from 10am till noon (and you will need those entire two hours). There’s lots of logic behind this, says Carolyn.
The morning is the best time to taste wine because your palate is fresh; JC agrees, adding that blending in the cellar generally happens in the morning too. The environment is quieter before the lunchtime rush. It utilises the space more efficiently. And you can still enjoy the rest of your day, filling it with other activities. I’m not arguing with any of it.
A glass of Elation MCC wakes up the palate and gets it ready for what’s to follow. Course number one (above) is inspired by Bircher muesli – honey granola crackers with passionfruit mousse, cherry pearls and origanum is served with a fresh Sauvignon Blanc. Carolyn is a force of nature when it comes to food and wine pairing, and she’ll take it even further by educating you with aromatics, which is quite remarkable.
The second course is smoked salmon with a poached quail egg, green pepper puree, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce. If you know even the tiniest thing about Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, you’ll immediately appreciate the pairing. The blend is more savoury than the 100% SB, and the Semillon brings with it a touch of saltiness (the ocean is always a lot closer to the vineyards than you’d think).
Number three (featured image at the top of the story) is brioche French toast with smoked duck breast, maple syrup, raspberry powder and king oyster mushroom chips. It’s served with the Art Of Pinot Noir – the varietal for which the valley is best-known. They call it Hemel-en-aarde for different reasons (depending on who you talk to) but I like to think it’s because it’s a special sweet spot for the making of Pinot Noir like no other in the country.
The Reserve Merlot is paired with the earthy fourth course (above) of grilled aubergine and king oyster mushrooms served with a prosciutto-wrapped fig, Gorgonzola and sumac purée, a balsamic reduction and buttery hazelnut crumble.
You have a choice of sweet or savoury for the fifth and final course, served with the Syrah Grenache: milk chocolate crémaux with star anise cherries, black olive shortbread, pomegranate, marjoram and liquorice foam; or Klein River Gruberg Gruyère (the farm is just down the road, pic above) with black cherry preserve, the most heavenly crumble-in-your-mouth black olive shortbread, marjoram and liquorice foam. I loved the inclusion of the herb in the dessert course.
A visit to Creation Wines is without a doubt something that should be on every food and wine lover’s bucket list.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©