How to choose wines and pair with food for your wedding or special event
When we craft menus for our clients; whether it’s for a wedding, corporate event or private party, we pay particular attention to creating a menu where all of the dishes work together really well. This extends to pairing wines with the food and that’s where fantastic wine makers like Seven Springs come in as perfect partners.
So when we asked Seven Springs to share their expertise and insight into wines and their wine making, we thought it might be helpful to approach this article with a peek behind the curtain of Seven Springs and their beautiful vineyard in South Africa. We’ve supplied wines to a number of weddings and private parties where Seven Springs wines have been served and they have never failed to delight, so we’re certain that you’ll really enjoy their wine too.
Seven Springs wine
Seven Springs was founded by Tim Pearson and his wife Vaughan who live in Warwickshire in the UK. Tim and Vaughan have always had a passion for wine and, on meeting them, their enthusiasm and knowledge comes out in abundance. Following numerous wine holidays in France and Italy, it seemed only a matter of time before they would fulfil their dream of owning their own vineyard. It was on their 25th wedding anniversary in 2005 when they visited South Africa that they looked into buying their own small vineyard and making their dream a reality.
The following year in 2006, Tim and Vaughan had purchased 12 hectares of land on a farm called Vrede (which translates to ‘Peace’ in Afrikaans) near the coastal town of Hermanus 20km, down the Hemel en Aarde Valley which translates to Heaven and Earth. The location sounds beautiful in more ways than one!
Wine production in South Africa
South Africa produces wines which fall between the “new” and the “old world” styles. The country has just over 250,000 acres of land planted with vines for wine production which is about 400 square miles. In terms of production, South Africa produces 4% of the worlds’ wine with 870,000 litres each year.
Having north and south facing land the decision for Tim and Vaughan came to which grapes they would plant for their red and white varieties. They settled on Pinot Noir and Syrah for the red varieties and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites. The Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc were planted in 2007 and the following year in 2008 they planted the Pinot and Frantoio olive trees around the perimeter of the land.
So the vines were starting to grow, but they still needed a brand and they also needed a winemaker. And in 2010, some three years after planting, Riana van der Merwe, joined Seven Springs as winemaker for their first harvest. Riana had studied at Stellenbosch University and had experience of wine making in the Rhone valley as well as California and Oregon and so brought great expertise to the operation. That first harvest yielded 9,000 bottles of Seven Springs Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Syrah wines.
After four years of development and harvesting, Seven Springs had started exporting their wines internationally to places like the USA, Denmark, Germany and the UK. In 2014 they were also recognised with three awards, being awarded Decanter Gold for the 2012 Syrah and Bronze for two Chardonnays.
The year later, Seven Springs started exporting wines to Belgium, Netherlands and Mauritius and where then awarded IWC Silver for their 2012 Chardonnay and 2013 Sauvignon Blanc and the Decanter Bronze for their 2013 Pinot Noir
More awards have been bestowed on the Seven Springs vineyard and wines, which is testament to the quality and recognition they have received in the industry. With a Decanter Silver for the 2014 Chardonnay and Bronze for the Unoaked Chardonnay 2014. Last, but not least, Silver IWSC for the 2013 Pinot Noir and 2013 Syrah.
A typical year at the vineyard.
So that’s a whistle stop tour of how Seven Springs came to be, but when chatting to Tim and Vaughan we were fascinated to hear what a typical year for them looks like. Tim explained:
It’s actually February and March which are the key harvest months for the team and it’s a really busy time for picking the best grapes from the vines. From April through to June the vines ‘rest’ and as we come into July and August the vines are pruned in readiness for the new growth.
It’s in September when the new growth starts and the vines are then continually monitored for diseases and pests to ensure we maximise the yield for next years’ harvest. Our policy is one of minimal intervention, using chemicals only if absolutely necessary, and we are proud of the fact that no pesticides have been used to date.
The vines flower in October and the juvenile grapes start appearing in November. In December and January the vines receive full attention as excess grapes are taken off the plants and we practice ‘canopy management’; taking excess leaves and shoots from the vines which ensures energy is driven into the production of the fruit. Airflow through the vineyard is also another really important factor in order to reduce moulds and sunburn of the grapes.
Food pairings with wine
When it comes to matching wines with menus and pairing Seven Springs’ red and white varieties, we’re almost spoilt for choice. The great thing about food and wine is that taste is such a subjective thing and it really is down to personal preference, that’s one of the reasons we have a bespoke approach to our catering. That all said, we do have a few favourite ‘go to’ ideas and suggestions that you could try. So here are a few food and wine paring recommendations for Seven Spring’s Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option when your guests might be eating different dishes for the same course, such as a meat and fish dish. You’re making a safe choice if you have dishes such as an eight-hour braised blade of 28 day dry-aged Aberdeen Angus beef, served on confit garlic mashed potato, with roast onions, buttered spring greens finished with a rich madeira jus. As well as a flaked cod and poached salmon fishcake flavoured with lemon and dill, served on a creamed mashed potato with tomato and roast pepper salad.
Syrah, or what some people may recognise as Shiraz from Australia, is paired well with lamb and pork dishes. A mint crusted welsh lamb with fondant potato and spring vegetables is a great pairing. Or a nice grilled free-range pork chop, served with buttered mashed potato, green beans and broccoli, finished with baked apples and a rich red wine jus would go well with a Syrah.
Chardonnay pairs really well with chicken, such as confit chicken wrapped in Parma ham with red onion chutney canape.
Sauvignon Blanc pairs really well with seafood and garlic so a good choice would be something like these garlic king prawns with chilli on a melba toast