Leopard's Leap introduces Loire-inspired 2014 Culinaria Chenin Blanc

Made from grapes grown on 20 year old, dry-land bush vines, the recently released 2014 Leopard's Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc stays true to its terroir in a way that is both classic and versatile.

The Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Collection is inspired by the terroir-specific wines of France and the 2014 Culinaria Chenin Blanc represents the characteristic freshness and fruitiness associated with wines from the Loire Valley – with the exceptional quality of South African fruit of course! The well-defined flavours of the Chenin Blanc shows apricot, pear, pineapple and kiwi fruit supported by a zippy acidity and some interesting sweet-spice contributed by the 10% Grenache Blanc in the blend.

The complexity of the 2014 Culinaria Chenin Blanc allows itself to be an exceptional partner to food – in line with the Culinaria Collection’s focus of celebrating the age-old relationship between food and wine. Excellent with shellfish and other seafood, herbs and vegetable dishes, the 2014 Culinaria Chenin Blanc offers a wonderful solution to the often difficult pairing of Thai food and is the answer to the notoriously challenging tomato – from Gazpacho, to Salad Caprice to Ratatouille! (Please see food pairing list in *Notes to Editor)

Both the Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc grapes are from bush vines with an average age of 20 years and an average yield of just 4.8 tons per hectare. These dry-land vineyards with their unirrigated soil ensure good flavour concentration in the grapes. Harvested separately at full ripeness, both varieties were allowed skin contact of twelve hours and were fermented at 20 degrees Celsius in 500-litre second-fill and third-fill French oak barrels. The wine was allowed nine months’ lees contact prior to blending and bottling and was matured for another six months before being released early-April 2015.

*Notes to Editor:

1. The Culinaria Collection is exclusively available from Leopard's Leap Family Vineyards in Franschhoek or online from www.leopardsleap.co.za

2. The Culinaria Collection comprises:

· Chenin Blanc (Loire-inspired), R70

· Pinot Noir Chardonnay (Burgundy-inspired), R75

· Shiraz Grenache blend (Rhône-inspired), R90

· Grand Vin Bordeaux-style blend, R90

· Méthode Cap Classique Champagne-style sparkling wine, R125

· Muscat de Frontignan Natural Sweet dessert wine, R75

3. The Culinaria Collection is also the basis of the award-winning Food and Wine Pairing presented from Leopard's Leap Family Vineyards on Friday mornings. http://www.leopardsleap.co.za/experience/food-and-wine-pairing/

4. Recipe

Chef Pieter de Jager shares this recipe for mussels and chorizo to enjoy with the 2014 Culinaria Chenin Blanc.

Mussels with chorizo, red onion, tomato and celery

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 kg green lipped/blue mussels

2 tomatoes

½ red onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic

1 chili (optional)

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

150 g chorizo sausage, sliced in rings

250 ml Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc

50 g butter

1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon roughly chopped celery leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and black pepper

Slices of toasted ciabatta or baguette

Method

Get a pot of boiling water ready for blanching and ice-water ready for refreshing.

Clean the mussels by pulling out the beard and scrubbing the shells clean of any sand or barnacles.

Score the tomatoes on top and blanch for as long as it takes for the skin to start peeling. Remove all the skin and refresh in the ice-water.

Cut the tomatoes into wedges and de-seed, then cut into small dice. Keep aside and finish the sauce with the fresh tomato. Slice the onion, garlic, chili, celery and chorizo and mix together in a bowl.

Once all the preparation has been done, place a heavy-bottom pot, covered with a lid, over a high heat and allow to warm.

Add the mussels, white wine and sliced ingredients to the pot and close the lid. Allow to steam for 5 minutes.

As soon as the mussels are open, they are cooked. Discard any closed mussels.

Remove the mussels from the pot and strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Bring the liquid to the boil and gradually add the butter while whisking.

Add the chopped parsley, celery, lemon juice and tomato dice and season with salt and pepper.

Place the freshly steamed mussels into a suitable bowl and pour the butter and herb sauce over the mussels.

Serve with toasted ciabatta/baguette.

5. Food Partner Suggestions for 2014 Culinaria Chenin Blanc:

· Cold shellfish and crustacean dishes

· Plainly grilled white fish and freshwater fish

· A vegetarian soup such as minestrone, or a tomato-based soup, hot or cold.

· Any dish based on tomatoes, such as tomatoes with fresh basil and mozzarella.

· Stuffed baby marrow and pasta with green beans.

· Vegetarian dishes, especially those including red and/or green peppers, eggplant and leeks.

· White meat with ample fresh herbs (excluding rosemary and thyme), or a herb-infused sauce over fish – such as salsa verde, herbal pesto and guacamole.

· Salads or any dish served with vinaigrette.

· Dishes with sharp ingredients such as citrus juice, sour cream, dill and capers.

· Oysters on the half-shell

· Goat’s milk cheese - any shape, age or size of goat's milk cheese. Also other cheeses, such as sharp, soft-rind or lightly-washed-rind varieties – Feta, Ricotta, Fontana and Jarlsberg.

· Smoked haddock, and lightly smoked white meat in light cream sauces.

· Seafood salads with tangy, freshly prepared mayonnaise, Indian king prawn biryani and king prawn rogan josh, battered prawns with aïoli, and stir-fried calamari (with lots of lemon).

· Asparagus quiche

· Asparagus in lemon butter or hollandaise

· Onion bhajis

· Ratatouille with liberal lashings of olive oil.

· Thai food, especially Thai noodle salads.

For more information on the Culinaria Collection, food pairings and how to purchase the wines, kindly visit www.leopardsleap.co.za or contact Liné Smit at ls.marketing@leopardsleap.co.za or +27 (0)21 876 8843.

About Leopard's Leap

Leopard’s Leap was conceptualised at the turn of the century by winemaker and businessman Hein Koegelenberg, with guidance from his late father in law, internationally renowned industrial leader Dr. Anton Rupert. Following its formidable success as a wine producer during the first decade, a decision was made in 2011 to broaden the horizons and, at the same time, create a home where visitors can get close to the values of the Leopard’s Leap brand and experience the Leopard’s Leap identity and principal passions – wine, food, conservation and literature.

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