By Steve Evans, http://awinemerchantslife.blogspot.com/
Today I visited Shaka-Zulu the new South African Zulu restaurant which opens in June. Michael Clark (ex sommelier now Shaka-Zulu project manager) and I have just finalised the 100 bin all South African still wine list and I’ve had the chance to see the fit out progress at the site. This included my first real life glimpse of the £2 million worth of intricate hand carvings depicting Zulu life. The interior is absolutely stunning and will be a wonderful draw card for visitors to Shaka-Zulu in its own right. There is nothing like it anywhere else.
I’m also very excited about the potential of this venue not only to change the way that the South African dining experience is presented but also for the tremendous potential to do good in South African communities. Please check-out this enlightening YouTube posted by ex ITV and Sky presenter David Glencorse in March for further information on this charity work and the stunning interior:
Coupled with this we on the wine side are working with wineries to contribute to the fund raising. The main focus is on Journeys End which has a history of commitment to assisting those in need and in supporting a wide range of charities. At the beginning of 2010 they have donated more than R 2.8 million through the Pegasus Charitable Trust. For every bottle of Journeys End wine sold at Shaka-Zulu £1 will be donated to ‘Bayede’ which is a powerful job creation enterprise, endorsed by both the Zulu King His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and Her Royal Highness, Princess Queen Mantfombi, daughter of King Sobhuza of Swaziland.
Shaka-Zulu is also partnering with Saam Mountain which is perhaps best known in the UK for their contribution to comic relief. In 2009 they raised about £750,000 via the Red nose day wines. They receive wonderful reviews from the press as well. Tasting notes from Masters of Wine Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin: “We taste thousands of wines each year and can honestly say that this honeyed Cape Chenin Blanc dramatically over-delivers for the price: real concentration of fruit yet with great tangy refreshment too.”.
Earlier this year I travelled with Roger Payne who is the Managing Director of Shaka-Zulu to the Cape Wineries to select the most suitable partners. The Graham Beck Sparkling wines were simply too hard to resist. Nelson Mandela toasted his 1994 inauguration with a glass as did Barak Obama his victorious election night. The Telegraph chose the Graham Beck Brut NV as one of the Ten best South African wines for 2010. The wine critic Matthew Jukes chose the 2005 Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc as his number 1 wine of the year. Roger visited both the estates in Robertson and Franschhoek and these are amazing so I highly recommend a visit if you have the chance.
Newton Johnson winery restaurant ‘Heaven’ is in the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir tourist spot of Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley Hermanus. They helped the Shaka-Zulu head chef Barry Vera develop ideas for our menu by allowing him to guest chef. We visited in search of great wine which we found in abundance. The cooler climate appellations in which they grow grapes account for elegant, mineral, supple and complex characters. The second visit was during harvest time and the whole extended family was working in the vineyards and cellars so Barry was more than happy pitch in and help out in the kitchen. You’ll remember ‘Feast Bazaar’ TV chef Barry from my blog about the new menu at the Cuban which he developed in consultation. For Shaka-Zulu Barry will draw upon his experience working as Executive Chef at the internationally renowned Blues restaurant in Cape Town during its heyday , the breathtaking Table Bay Hotel and the Londolozi Game Reserve.
Another key component of the wine-list is to help those guests with mainly knowledge of European wine to understand the links and relationship the old world has with South Africa. So listed will be wines from aperitif to dessert to highlight this.
Springfield owner Jeanette Bruwer hosted us for a delicious lunch in her home on the estate. Our visit had kept her from an annual Marlin fishing competition so beef was the order of the day. She is officially one of the Women in Wine. This is a international group which promotes the role of women in all aspects of the wine industry. She is a ninth generation descendant of the Bruères, French Huguenots who had come to South Africa from the Loire in 1688 with bundles of vines under their arms. Thus utilising the original winemaking techniques of the first settlers she approaches winemaking as a cultural and spiritual adventure. Is all about being one with the land and her Sauvignon Blanc’s certainly prove that it is a tradition worth keeping.
De Trafford Straw Wine (vin de paille) is the first of its kind in South Africa. Chenin Blanc grapes are laid out to dry on racks ( or straw ). This raisining process concentrates the sugar, acidity and fruit flavours to produce a luscious, sweet dessert wine. Fermented and matured in new French and American oak barrels for extra richness. The taste is simply WOW!
We also have listed farms that produce more than just wine so that the other ‘home made’ products might be incorporated into Shaka-Zulu. Kloovenburg stretches along the lower contours of Kasteel (Castle) Mountain, where the north-easterly slopes have proved ideal for the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon cultivars and the south-westerly and easterly slopes favour Shiraz. Coupled with the many awards for their Red wine Kloovenburg are also awarded Best South African Oil by Wine Magazine. Serene groves of grey-green olive trees cover 30 hectares of the estate. Drawing on the traditions of Mediterranean countries, Kloovenburg are also expanding the non-culinary uses of olive oil into the area of beauty products. These items will be on sale at Shaka-Zulu in the retail area.
Shaka-Zulu is located within Camden’s Stables Market in London. You can’t miss it, just look for the 45 foot statue of the King Shaka himself.
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