Over the years, I’ve come to realise I have a particular inclination towards wines from the Robertson Valley. It might be for nostalgic reasons, for reasons of roots and memories, or just because I think (somewhat biasedly) that this fertile valley holds some of the best vines in our country.
A visit to the Robertson Valley is never quite complete without a slow soirée at Zandvliet Wines, the home of Shiraz. I relish every opportunity to become still in their tasting room, the smell of old oak in my nose and a glass of moody Shiraz held against flickering candlelight, swirled until it licks the sides of the glass with promises of beautiful complexity.
I thought that this classic Shiraz would be a suitably aromatic red wine to celebrate the strength of the father figures in our lives, as we count the days until Father’s Day on the 19th of June. Bold and unwavering, yet gentle and lingering – to me – the Zandvliet Shiraz 2018 seemingly celebrates every aspect and every shape of fatherhood.
Zandvliet Wine, on the outskirts of Ashton in the Robertson Valley, plays an illustrious role in the narrative of the South African wine industry. Proclaimed as a farm in 1838, Zandvliet counts among the very first farms to bottle Shiraz.
A small range of low limestone hills lie on Zandvliet’s southern half, bringing the special magic to its kalkveld (calcareous earth) terroir. Only 130 kilometres due south is the southernmost point of Africa, Cape Agulhas, dynamo of the breezes that cool their hills in summer (https://zandvliet.co.za/about/).
Slow cooked beef ragu with pasta
A deliciously warming and deceptively easy meal to make, this is one you can start the day before, allowing the flavours to develop overnight and the fresh herbs and red wine to infuse the meat until tender goodness. Served easy over your favourite pasta, mash or gnocchi, it’s a great sharing meal for Father’s Day, and one that the whole family can get involved in making. I mean, who doesn’t love Italian food?
If you’re willing to spare a couple of cups of your Zandvliet Shiraz, the addition of this aromatic red wine to the ragu will deepen the colour and earthy complexity of the dish, adding a certain richness and texture. Even without the addition of wine, which can easily be replaced with beef stock, it’s still packed with flavour.
The leftovers are the best part of this dish. Scooped between two slices of fresh sourdough bread, the fine shreds of tomato-soaked ragu make for the most satisfying sandwich, alongside a glass of Shiraz. Or, in a beautiful fusion of cuisines, this Italian inspired pulled beef dish makes a mean filling for Mexican tacos, enchiladas or quesadillas.
For the ragu I used beef brisket, which flakes easily into chunks of succulent, saucy meat once slowly and lowly cooked either in a slow cooker or in a cast iron skillet. Quite a forgiving dish, you can add leftover veggies from the fridge to thicken the stock, but always start the process with a glossy, fragrant mirepoix – the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery, gently sautéed until golden brown.
The Zandvliet 2018 Shiraz is a great fan of anything meaty and earthy, fitting my slow cooked beef ragu like a woolly, winter glove.
Slow cooked beef ragu
- 5 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1 kg beef brisket, cubed
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 medium onions sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 4 medium carrots, diced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
- 500 ml red wine, like a good Shiraz (can be replaced with beef stock)
- 500 ml tomato passata
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 bay leaves, dried
- salt and pepper to taste
- pasta, gnocchi or mash to serve
- grated parmesan to serve
- fresh basil to serve
- Toss the beef brisket cubes in the flour to coat evenly.
- In a large, heavy-based saucepan, heat 5 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the floured brisket with salt and pepper and fry the pieces quickly in batches until browned. Set aside.
- Deglaze the pan by pouring in a little of the wine and scraping the bottom of the pan. Set aside the liquid for use later.
- Add a bit more olive oil and cook the onion, carrot and celery on low until starting to soften. Add the garlic and herbs and turn up the heat slightly. Cook until everything is lightly golden.
- Add the red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan again and cook until the liquid is reduced a bit and thickening. Now return the brisket to the pan with the remaining ingredients, except the basil and parmesan.
- Bring to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Cook on very low for 2-3 hours, or until the brisket shreds very easily.
- Shred the meat with forks if necessary, season to taste and mix thoroughly.
- Serve with pasta / gnocchi / mash, and top with fresh herbs and parmesan
Fig and walnut oat brownies
A much lighter and healthier version of traditional chocolate brownies, these baked oat brownies with dried Turkish figs and walnuts are the perfect way to end a Father’s Day lunch and goes down particularly well with another glass of Zandvliet Shiraz.
Gluten- and dairy free, these are (relatively!) guiltless down to the last crumb, and guaranteed to win hearts along the way. Quick to whip up in a single bowl, they’re sticky, gooey and just delectable. Easy to store in the fridge, they just need a little bit of heat to warm them through for another round of indulgent feasting.
I find the addition of the dried figs and walnuts to enhance both the earthy and berry characteristics of the Shiraz, alongside the dark, almost bitter notes of the chocolate and cacao. The wine smooths over those rough edges, mellowing out the dessert to something not too sweet, but rather hitting the exact right spot between moreish and heavenly.
Fig and walnut oat brownies
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1/3 cup cashew butter (can also use peanut or any other nut butter)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp flax flour
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/3 cup 70% dark chocolate chips, roughly chopped
- 2 handfuls walnuts, roughly chopped, divided
- 2 handfuls dried Turkish figs, cut into thin rounds
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare a brownie pan with baking paper and/or cooking spray. The ideal pan size is roughly 15 x 22cm.
- Add all the wet ingredients to a large bowl and mix well until all combined.
- Add all the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well until all combined.
- Add the chocolate chips and half of the walnuts and fold into the brownie mixture.
- Pour mixture into the brownie pan and arrange left over walnuts and dried figs on top.
- Bake for 40 - 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan completely and then on a wire rack (remove it with the baking paper) before cutting into squares and serving!
Zandvliet Shiraz 2018
Tasting notes: Ripe complex nose showing flavours of plums, blackcurrants and pepper with hints of mixed spice. These deep flavours follow through to a seamless, supple and complex palate with added hints of dark chocolate.
In the vineyard: 100% Shiraz
In the cellar: Matured in seasoned French and American oak barrels for 18 – 24 months
Awards & Accolades:
GOLD WINE AWARDS Gold – 2016
VITIS VINIFERA Gold – 2016
WINE MAGAZINE CHRISTIAN EDES 91/100 – 2016
Cellar door price: approx. R140 per bottle
Life’s most precious moments are most often found in the shadows of the big memorable moments. Sharing the chores of setting the table and lighting the candles for dinner. Handing plates around over the table to share in the feast. Meaningful looks and cheers’es shared over raised glasses, laughter and giggles at age-old family jokes, hands wrapped around warm cups of coffee after dinner.
A meal made with love is one of the most rewarding ways to create memories and show appreciation. May your every meal be filled with love, sprinkled with good wishes and lashings of prosperity.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, recognising that this special title is much, much more than just a biological connection to those you love, nurture and protect. Cheers!
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