Friday, June 7, 2019

Spier Pinotage/Shiraz from South Africa Plus Sliced Lamb As Wrappers #WinePW

My first taste of Pinotage from South Africa came from one of the NYC Wine Riot tasting events where I was doing my pouring shifts a few years ago. Nearing the end of the shift, I was walking around to find unusual wines to taste, and Pinotages from South Africa were the few unfamiliar ones I had tasted. A lot of wine drinkers may agree Pinotage is a wine that could be controversial, odd and interesting - all at the same time. My recollection of Pinotage was that it was super jammy, petroleum-smell on the nose, medium-bodied and fruit-forward. I couldn’t tell on the spot whether I liked it or not, but I was definitely intrigued by it. Jennifer Gentile Martin from Vino Travels invited #WinePW bloggers to do some wine travels to South Africa. It’s a golden opportunity for me to revisit Pinotage and the land where it was originated. 
Pinotage - Photo Credit of www.TripAdvisor.co.za
Pinotage is South Africa’s indigenous and flagship grape. It is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault that was discovered in 1925 and was first vinified in 1941. This grape is easy to grow but tends to develop isoamyl acetate during the winemaking process, which leads to a sweet pungency that resembles the smell of paint. In the last decade, Pinotage experienced a new revolution in South Africa with an increasing number of producers exploring a brighter and juicier expression of the variety that shows off the fruit rather than oak and manipulates less to showcase the characteristics of the grape.
Spier - Photo Credit: www.tripadvisor.com
Spier has been a wine farm in South Africa since 1692. Located near Stellenbosch, it is one of the oldest wine farms in the country. Spier is an all-encompassing farm that grows grapes, makes wines, grows produces, serves food, runs hotels and collects art, offering a wide range of activities/services from Segway in the vineyard to wedding banquets. 
South Africa Wine Map - Photo Credit: Wine Folly
The Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek valleys form the Cape Winelands, the larger of the two main wine growing regions in South Africa. South Africa is ranked 9th of the top wine producing countries in the world according to the 2018 International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) statistics. Stellenbosch is the primary location for viticulture and viticulture research in South Africa. The Stellenbosch Wine Route, established in 1971 by Neil Joubert from Spier, Frans Malan from Simonsig and Spatz Sperling from Delheim, is a must-do for wine lovers when visiting the country. 

The Cape Winelands region has a Mediterranean climate with dry-heated summers and cool, wet winters. Stellenbosch lies at the foot of the Cape Fold mountain range, which provides soil suitable for viticulture. Grapes grown in this area are mainly used for wine production. The region has diverse soil types, ranging from light, sandy soils to decomposed granite. 
Spier Discovery Collection Pinotage (70%) / Shiraz (30%) 2017 has strong earthy notes and a hint of smokiness on the nose. It’s lightly oaky and a bit spicy on the palate. The dark fruit and peppery notes come out progressively through the sips. This medium-bodied wine is a perfect accompaniment with the lighter lamb dishes like the thinly sliced lamb that I’m going to use as wrappers. This thinly sliced lamb is readily available from the Asian grocery store and is used a lot in ramen noodle soups and hot pot. 
Sliced lamb is very thin and cooks very fast. 
I have the Korean brown sweet rice, okra and enoki mushroom to be wrapped in the lamb slice for two reasons. The seasoned cooked rice will absorb the flavor of the lamb as it sits inside it as well as is more fun to eat. When the okra and enoki are wrapped by the lamb slices, they can be entrée or even pass as hors d’Oeuvres - super presentable and delicious.
Use Korean brown sweet rice for sticky texture, nuttier flavor and healthier grain.
Making all these dishes are not hard, either. Cook the rice in a rice cooker in chicken stock and season well with salt and pepper or additional dried herb you like. While cooling off the rice, line a ramekin with plastic wrap and then the sliced lamb. Overlay the lamb slices onto the ramekin to avoid any gaps and cover the bottom of the ramekin completely. 
Once the rice is cooled, scoop it into the ramekin and firmly close the rice bowl with the hanging lamb slices. Refrigerate the rice bowl for at least two hours. 
With the okra and enoki wraps, before wrapping them in lamb slices, blanch the okras and a half an inch bundle of enoki mushroom in salty boiling water. Once the water boiled up again, use a strainer for taking the okra and enoki out and put them in ice water immediately. Pat dry the okra and enoki and wrap each okra/enoki with one or two lamb slices tightly over.
Pan-fry the rice/okra/enoki lamb wraps until the lamb is brown. For the rice wrap, sear the side as well. Viola! This lamb wrapped rice and vegetables not only look good, but taste oh so good. I combined some oyster sauce, soya sauce, sugar and a little bit water in a pot to reduce it to a sauce that’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Drizzle the sauce over the rice and the vegetables to finish.  Looking good, tasting good!


Check out other bloggers’ wine travels in South Africa below: 

11 comments:

  1. I love all of the recipes that you share. We do have a wonderful Asian Market but it is an hour drive each way so I only get there occasionally.

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    1. Thanks. When you go there one day, store up :-)

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  2. Wow! This looks like a delicious feast, Pinny. Thanks for sharing!! We love lamb. I can't wait to try this.

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    1. Thanks. I love lamb too and hope my family likes it as much as I do :-P

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  3. Great use of the thinly sliced lamb!

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    1. Yes, you probably know exactly how the lamb slices could be used...hot pot, ramen!

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  4. Pinotage is definitely a grape variety that has a strong love hate following!

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  5. What lovely dishes and a nice pairing for Pinotage!

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  6. That is so interesting! I've heard of wrapping meat with enoki mushrooms, but not rice or okra. And I LOVE sweet brown rice, okra, and lamb! Great idea, and nice way to highlight pinotage which doesn't seem to get much publicity in the US.

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  7. Looks like it's time for me to give Pinotage from South Africa another chance!

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  8. I love the idea of what grows together goes together, but I also love seeing how it pairs with different cultural cuisines. Thanks for sharing!

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