Held annually, and this year for the fourth time, a Night of a Thousand Glasses is one of those events on the wine calendar that indicates the year is drawing to a close. Organised by Distell, this evening’s aim is to showcase wines from the company’s Cape Legends portfolio. The event seats 100 guests and serves ten wines matched to ten dishes.
This year the glasses were arranged on tables set underneath a marquee tent on the lawns at Plaisir de Merle, outside Franschhoek. Overall a slick operation, the evening was, however, not off to a great start when the first wine of the night, the Lomond Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Pincushion 2007, was declared “finished” by waiters – with no more bottles to fill some empty glasses. Luckily my ‘date’ for the evening, the bubbly Corlien Morris of Wine Concepts, was willing to share her glass and I got to taste a wine which, together with the Stellenzicht Semillon Reserve 2009, turned out to be the wine of the night.
Chef Vanie Padayachee was in charge of cuisine, the pairing of which ranged from the daring - in the case of the fried quail matched with Uitkyk Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - to the inspiring – as was the case with the dried fruit smoked lamb chop with curried gnocchi and Cape Malay spice reduction matched with the Neethlingshof Gewüztraminer 2006.
Plaisir de Merle Malbec 2008, with an explosion of red fruit and spice on the nose, provided another talking point, with some commentators at the table announcing that Neil Bester has produced the best Malbec in South Africa. Paired with a hot pot of (rather dry) warthog and chorizo tossed in a creamy butter curry sauce, the wine did well to stand up to the tangy flavours – although, being the six course of the night, guests seem to be more focussed on the wine than the food.
Some other wines that stood out on the evening were:
Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – served with the eighth course, a plate of duck breast – a wine which mirrored the air of its owner, the gentle giant of the wine world, Schalk van der Westhuizen.
Neethlingshof, The Maria 2011 – served with roquefort chees soufflé – made from Weisser Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, what winemakers De Wet Viljoen and Lauren Snyman has produced here is another great example of NLH.
The evening drew to a close at 12:00, when guests were invited to a nightcap of Bisquit and Van Ryn’s 12 year old brandy in the study. Lucky for us Distell organised drivers for guests – a clever move considering that everyone was clearly enjoying the abundance provided by such a decadent evening.