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Event I South African Wine Tasting. Plus meeting Nelson Mandela's Chef

Sometimes, you think you're going to do one thing, but instead end up with two things in your pocket. That's what happened with me. I thought I was going for a spot of wine tasting, but instead ended up meeting Xoliswa Ndoyiya, the resident chef of the late Nelson Mandela.

Xoliswa Ndoyiya, Nelson Mandela's chef for the last 22 years

As we all sat around at The Wine Company waiting to taste the South African wines that had been picked out for the tasting, the conversation obviously steered towards how and what Mr Mandela was like. Xoliswa, who had worked with him for over 22 years, had quite a few things to say about him - that he welcomed people with open arms so there were atleast a 100 people at any given meal at the Mandela household. That he liked simple food and what he'd crave for at the end of the day was a bowl of rice and beans. And that he was, perhaps, one of the world's most large-hearted persons.

Alan Nelson with Xoliswa
We sat around listening to her, as the wines began flowing. The tasting began with a Sauvignon Blanc, which was light and refreshing and crisp. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to use our heads to decode the wines as we had Alan Nelson, owner of the Nelson Wine Estates, to guide us through what we were drinking. 

The Rose followed which went perfectly with the cheese board that the good people of The Wine Company had put out for us. Which was then followed by the Pinotage, made by a South African native red grape which is a cross between the Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The beautiful earthy flavours of the wine clearly made it one of my favourites for the evening.

More hors d'oeuvres - rice crackers with whipped feta and pizzas with lamb and spinach made their way to our table and the next wine  - the Cape Blend - was poured out next. This is a relatively new variety of wine that South Africa has just started producing. Nobody really knows what really goes into it, but I can say this safely - I'm not going to be trying to again - since it was a bit too dry for me. 

Mushroom risotto as my main, and the wine poured next was the Merlot. Which was really quite fabulous and worked well with my risotto. But it was the last and the final wine for the evening which was really fantastic

Nelson estate's Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot was beautifully intense yet so smooth that you couldn't help but ask for another glass. The spiciness from the Cabernet grapes was quite apparent but it was the balance in the acidity which made this the wine to drink. 

Which is why the second glass of this fab wine, went perfectly with the delicious Tiramisu that brought the evening to an end.

Needless to say, this was a Friday evening well spent. 

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