Many moons ago, a truck loaded with Nguni cattle was driving through the Swartland. Nguni cattle are indigenous to South Africa and have long been the mainstay of traditional Zulu culture. They are also possibly the most beautiful cattle in the world with their variable white and cinnamon-flecked hides and enormous sweeping horns. One particular cow on that truck was idly watching the scenery go by when the boring 50-shades-of-brown-veldt gave way to lush, green vineyards. Loving the look of all that greenery, the cow thought: “I’ll get off here, thanks” and took a leap of faith into her brand new life.
She somehow survived the potentially fatal ordeal, landing safely in the vineyards and went on to live a fulfilling life in her new home at the Overhex winery. Why the truck didn’t turn around to collect the Houdini heifer isn’t the point. Besides, wouldn’t you choose a life in a cabernet sauvignon vineyard over some dusty Swartland farm? And so, the Overhex Winery’s Survivor Range was created by Head Winemaker Ben Snyman to honour this brave and feisty surviving cow!
The Survivor Wines Range
On a day in which the summer southeaster was performing its usual blustery assault upon the Mother City, the who’s who of Cape Town’s wine scene gathered at chef-proprietor Giorgio Nava’s lovely Carne on Kloof to welcome the “newest addition to the stable”: the Survivor Wild Yeast Syrah 2017. The range already consists of a Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Wild Yeast Chardonnay, Pinotage, and Cabernet Sauvignon. After a bit of a mingle, we all took our seats to commence a comparative tasting that pit four Survivor range wines against similar wines from four prestigious international regions
- The Survivor Sauvignon Blanc 2018 and the Domaine Du Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from Gascony, France;
- The Survivor Wild Yeast Chardonnay and the Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay 2015 from California’s Napa Valley;
- The Survivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 and the Pauillac Private Reserve 2010 from Bordeaux, France;
- And, finally, the Survivor Wild Yeast Syrah 2017 and Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Syrah 2014 from South Australia.
The goal of the comparison wasn’t so much a competition as it was to illustrate winemaker Ben Snyman’s unique philosophy and approach to crafting wines. The most pervasive philosophy here is the fact that the Survivor range is an honest and living expression of the terroir from which its grapes are harvested. For example, where the Napa Valley Chardonnay was akin to a glass of dessert – big, buttery mouth feel bursting with ripe fruit and caramel flavours – the Survivor Wild Yeast Chardonnay was far more elegant and honest in its representation of Chardonnay and terroir.
On the other hand, the Pauillac Private Reserve 2010 from Bordeaux, France, was a powerful, dry, tobacco box of tannins while the Survivor Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 was gorgeously fruity, jammy, and heady. Both would have stood up beautifully to a heavy game or beef dish and yet were so completely different. It was an incredibly educational and interesting wine-tasting guided by winemaker Ben, and one that allowed the Survivor range’s best attributes to sing, even – or perhaps especially – when compared with wines from internationally known wine regions.
Some carne from Carne
With the crowds happily wine-warmed, the first of three courses came out to the table: an exquisite homemade ravioli of slow-baked Karoo lamb shoulder with sage butter and parmesan cheese. This was followed by la griglia con verdure, a platter of delicious meat cuts that included tri-tip, spider steak, flank steak, and pork chop with thin cut fries and broccoli for sides. Of course, the wine of choice was the maiden vintage of the Survivor Wild Yeast Syrah 2017, whose brooding and luscious complexity and flavourful hues of blackberries and violets beautifully complimented the meat. The final course was Giorgio’s selection of South African cheeses; a finale I would have chosen over a sweet dessert any day of the week. With wine this rich and indulgent, who needs dessert?
I could not have thought of a better venue for the celebration of Survivor’s newest addition to the stable. Not only does the Wild Yeast Syrah marry perfectly with the assortment of meat dishes on offer at Carne on Kloof but also, in many ways, its menu echoes the winemaking philosophies behind the Survivor range. Both Chef Giorgio and Winemaker Ben take a natural ingredient – meat and grapes respectively and with as little interference, additives, and manipulation as possible, produce an exquisite product that is a vibrant, honest expression of itself and its provenance. In this way, Carne on Kloof and the Survivor range are kindred spirits and, enjoyed together, make for a highly memorable meal!
Survivor Wild Yeast Syrah 2017 is available at selected outlets countrywide and sells at the cellar door price of R185. For online purchases visit www.overhexsurvivor.com.
Carne on Kloof is open Monday to Saturday, 12:00 to 15:00 | 18:00 to 22:00
For bookings and enquiries, please call 021 426 5566 or visit the website at www.carne-sa.com