Craving a deliciously crisp yet creamy-textured Sauvignon blanc that’s a superb match with fresh seafood with a hint of spice? Nederburg’s Heritage Heroes The Young Airhawk barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc of the 2016 vintage, awarded a gold medal at the prestigious The Drinks Business Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017 competition, is an excellent choice, according to Nederburg white-wine maker, Elmarie Botes.
“Its layered flavours of gooseberries, green figs and minerality, coupled with complexity and slight creaminess, provide an apt counterpoint to slightly spicy dishes. Popular South African chef, Pete Goffe-Wood’s salt and pepper squid with jalapeno and honey dipping sauce provides an ideal complement to this wine,” she explains.
“It’s actually one of my new favourite pairings that makes me curious to discover more... just like those who went before me to forge a path for Nederburg in establishing itself as one of South Africa’s most admired wineries.”
The Nederburg winery in Paarl, where Elmarie works closely under the leadership of multi-talented cellar-master Andrea Freeborough, has a rich history dating back to 1791, with pioneers who not only had an immense appetite for innovation, but who were also very disciplined.
The Heritage Heroes is a gourmet collection of handmade, ultra-premium wines, each individually named to honour some of the legends who have shaped the winery.
The Young Airhawk honours the son of Johann and Ilse Graue: talented young winemaker, Arnold Graue. He loved speed, action and adventure and showed his bravery from an early age. In 1942, straight after school, he signed on as a trainee air-gunner with the South African Air Force. With the end of World War II in 1945, it was time to study, so his parents sent him to the Wädenswil Wine Research Institute on Lake Zurich and then on to the world-famous Geisenheim in the Rheingau region of Germany. He also travelled to leading wine regions like Bordeaux and when he returned to South Africa in 1948 he could hardly wait to bring his newly acquired wine-growing and winemaking skills to Nederburg.
Enthused by the leading edge technology he had encountered, he set up a laboratory to refine the cold-fermentation technique his father had introduced and then boldly found a way to sterilise wine bottles that hadn’t yet even been perfected in Germany.
Even though he was very focused on his role at Nederburg, he always found time for fun and loved nothing more than the heady adventure of hiring a Piper Cruiser to fly over the Cape Peninsula, sometimes passing low over Nederburg, dipping a wing in greeting.
He was such a talented winemaker, and so keen to enhance the reputation built by his father that his parents left the farm in his care to travel in Europe. It was while they were away on 12 September 1953 that he hired a light aircraft to celebrate a perfect spring day and his life was tragically cut short in a fatal collision with another aircraft.
Less than two weeks after his untimely death, Nederburg broke all records on the Western Province Wine Show held in Paarl, winning 12 first prizes, the General Smuts trophy for best wine and a gold medal for scoring the highest number of points on the show. Nothing could dim his exceptional winemaking talents and a plaque was erected in his honour in the Nederburg cellar.
The Young Airhawk Sauvignon Blanc captures the spirit of this professionally driven young man with a huge appetite for life.
“Owing to the hot, dry conditions of the 2016 vintage, the grapes, sourced from selected vineyards in Elgin, Darling and Cape Agulhas, were hand-harvested earlier than usual to maintain the freshness typically associated with Sauvignon blanc. The fruit was fermented and matured on the lees, in second- and third-fill oak barrels for six months, to add creaminess and complexity to the eventual wine. Sourcing grapes from different areas contributed different facets of the varietal’s character,” Elmarie elaborates.
One can imagine young Arnold flying over these wine-growing regions, now established, exhilarated by the thrill of flying, a venture very much akin to winemaking – requiring not only precise knowledge of weather conditions, specialised instruments and balance, but also creativity, a daring sense of adventure, and an innate desire to explore.
RECIPE: Salt and pepper squid with jalapeno and honey dipping sauce, by chef Pete Goffe-Wood
Paired with Nederburg Heritage Heroes The Young Airhawk Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Jalapeno and coriander dipping sauce
Dredge the squid in the seasoned flour and drop into the deep fryer until crisp and golden brown. Arrange the rocket on the side of the plate. Place the fried squid in a pile next to it. Serve with a jalapeno and coriander dipping sauce, and a lemon wedge.
Jalapeno & coriander dipping sauce
4 egg yolks
2 tblsp pure honey
2 tblsp Dijon mustard
500ml canola oil
50ml lemon juice
6 finely chopped chillies
1 handful roughly chopped coriander
Put the egg yolks and mustard in the mixer. Slowly add the oil and honey, and as it begins to thicken, add a little of the lemon juice. If the mixture is still a little thick then thin it out with a dash of water. Add all of the chopped ingredients and season to taste.