La Colombe at Silvermist is a Cape Town fine dining institution. A permanent fixture in the Eat Out Top 10 and consistently regarded as one of the top restaurants in South Africa, it is a must-visit for local and international foodies.
In 2014, having relocated from their long time home at Constantia Uitsig, their high standards were upheld with the appointment of James Gaag as Head Chef. And with Scott Kirton moving to Chef Proprietor and opening up a number of successful associated ventures, the La Colombe train has continued to gather steam.
So we thought it was worth taking a look at their wine offering, and how they go about selecting what they list at the various establishments. This is where head sommelier, Joseph Dhafana and his team come in. They are responsible for deciding what goes on their impressive list, and hopefully finding one or two Naudé wines worthy.
It’s a huge part of their job. Not only are they trying to offer a varied, extensive and representative list, but they also need to offer wines for the tasting menu that pair perfectly with the chef’s creations. For a restaurant such as La Colombe, ensuring a great pairing is just as important as the dish itself. And when you’ve just been announced as the 114th best by World’s Best Restaurant, the pressure is on.
Typically the sommeliers and chefs will sit down to taste the dish and a variety of appropriate wine options. Nothing is written in stone, but there are a number of factors that are looked at in determining the pairing.
For seafood, think Chenin (or Naudé White Blend). For curry, you’re looking for wine with great acidity and a little residual sweetness. Riesling is a good bet. Mushrooms usually pair well with Pinot Noir, while lamb or beef want a bigger, structured red.
Sometimes the head chef and sommelier will surprise you with the pairing, but if it complements the dish and lifts the meal, then the wine pairing has done its job. If it clashes and detracts, then the sommelier is looking for a new one.
*Naudé Natural Sweet Mourvedre is on the wine list at La Colombe, and is practically begging for cheese and most dairy-based desserts.