- Published on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 14:11
- Written by Douglas Blyde
Gulio Bertrand and Henry Kotzé came to London restaurant, The Square to introduce the Morgenster range of wines to journalists. The 300 year-old vine and olive estate is based in Somerset West, Stellenbosch. Owner, Giulio Bertrand, who was formerly in the textile business, and originally purchased the 200ha site as a retirement domicile, but found the idea of a 200ha garden impractical, admires the wines of leading Saint-Emilion Château, Cheval Blanc. So too does his winemaker, Henry Kotzé, who sows Cabernet Franc alongside Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Petit Verdot (on Tableberg sandstone). Pierre Lurton is consultant.
Served at a round table featuring glass reservoir of floating petals, facing a square mirror and square canvases, lunch was cooked by biochemist graduate turned chef, Phil Thomson, who has presided over The Square for 20-years; a long tenure in London's lively restaurant business. Following canapés of surprisingly robust, crisped black rice puffs and foie gras cornets, a gutsy starter of calves sweetbreads with heady mousseron mushrooms and molten mimolette cheese was offered with expressions of Lourens River Valley from 2005, 2007 and 2008. The current 2008 release felt the most balanced, with hints of chocolate developing alongside dark berry fruit.
To follow, ox cheek with cubed potato and smoked onions was served with Morgenster Estate 2001, 2003 and 2005 (none was made in less positive years, 2002, nor 2007). Still showing vigour and fruit, the 2001, which had slight game nuances and finespun tanins, worked best with the hearty protein.
Finally, a slightly disappointing cheese platter of over-aged cheeses, which were neither chosen by guests nor introduced by staff, were offered with Morgenster Estate 2006 and 2008. As with Lourens, the current release (2008) proved the most plush and poised.
Worth noting was the estate's bright, grassy, silky olive oil, representing experimentation from 14 varieties of tree imported, then cultivated, from Liguria, Lazio, Tuscany, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia. It was introduced by The Oil Merchant's, Charles Carey.
Visitors to Morgenster's cellar door may try flights of wine, including rare batches of Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, preserved under Argon in Enomatic machines, as well as olive oil. Sofia's, the estate's 40-cover restaurant serves dishes such as mussel and fennel quiche and seared Lourensford trout. In terms of Morgenster's future, Kotzé is currently devising the estate's first white, a Graves style Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc.
Enotria are Morgenster's UK importers.