When Jean-Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin took up the challenge of establishing a winery in a remote corner of South Africa’s Walker Bay wine region some 19 years ago, they did so with the courage of their conviction. The 40 hectares of undulating land on the lofty Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge had never been planted to vines before, but recognising the vast potential, they set out with tenacity and determination to transform it into the model wine farm, Creation. The annual World’s Best Vineyard announced that Creation placed 10th globally for 2021, the highest entry ever for a South African vineyard. No easy feat, but then, the Swiss-born JC and South African-born Carolyn (née Finlayson) both come from wine pioneering stock spanning at least three generations and two continents. Carolyn’s father, Walter, planted the first Zinfandel on Blaauwklippen in the seventies and is a wine pioneer in his own right.
Innovation at its best
While the world is changing and battling under the Covid-19 pandemic, Creation has never stopped innovating. This philosophy of constant renewal has seen the installation of an indoor garden or biome at the entrance of the tasting room and a new Heritage Menu, showcasing the best of South African cooking, with the estate’s award-winning wines.
Creation co-owner Carolyn Martin explains: “Our friend Baptiste Quinard from Burgundy sparked the idea to create a beautiful and environmentally positive space. The goal is the exchange of energy and nature in the tasting room. We achieved this by showcasing indigenous flora set against a terroir wall built from the remarkable 255-million to 550-million-year-old stones found in the Creation vineyards.”
The Creation Biome
The Creation Biome boasts a magnificent show of seasonal fynbos such as the King and Pink Ice Proteas. In the Western world humans spend 93% of their time indoors. It has however been proven that when we are outdoors in nature or in buildings with healthy biomes, we are less likely to suffer from chronic health problems. In this respect Luke Leung, whose engineering projects include Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – suggests deploying ventilation systems that pump offices full of microbially diverse outdoor air.
In addition to delivering fresh oxygen and eliminating the brain-numbing buildup of carbon dioxide, good airflow and filtration reduce exposure to a long list of primarily unregulated and unmonitored chemicals found indoors. Examples are carcinogens and endocrine disrupters residing in carpets, computers, free-floating dust, office chairs, paint and more.
“Inviting nature in has also made a distinct change to the acoustics of our Tasting Room. It is a known fact that hard surfaces deflect sound waves while soft surfaces, as created by the plants in our biome, absorb them. Our innovative Creation Sensation Experience has taught us the value of resonance and by reducing the background noises we’ve created a gentle, relaxing mood for our guests to enjoy,” says Carolyn.
Creation Heritage Pairing Menu
Guests can now also enjoy their unique Creation Heritage Pairing Menu, honoring South Africa’s diverse cultures and rich heritage.
The Creation Culinary Team comprises a multicultural tapestry, bringing titillating variety and creativity to their offerings. Based on the belief that what grows together, goes together, the Heritage Menu blends a wealth of nostalgic tastes and textures with an even greater dollop of innovation and imagination. In creating the menu, the team worked with a doctor who is a nutritionist and a specialist in general wellbeing.
To welcome you is the crisp and tangy Creation Cool-Climate Chenin Blanc. Why Chenin? Well, as journalist Clifford Roberts puts it: “If there’s a Ground Zero for South African wine, it must be Chenin Blanc. Few varieties have tracked our history from the start, become as ubiquitous and emerged as a shining light.”
The six-course menu includes Umfino, a traditional Xhosa dish that chef Abongile Mafevuka lifted with peppadews, sunflower seeds, goat’s milk cheese and a variety of herbs and greens to perfectly pair with the crisp, fresh Sauvignon Blanc.
Chapter 2 was inspired by the curry of Chef Anthean Ambros’s childhood. His inventive Fish Seedloaf Bunny Chow reflects some of the exciting culinary cultures of our country: Cape Malay pickled fish, seedloaf and Indian Mango Achar. The dish is served with the Viognier.
Chef Eleanor Niehaus’s Strawberry Sorghum Salad is scrumptious and healthy with no less than 12 nutrients. It is served with the delicate Rosé.
Chef Jean-Albert Steyn harvests waterblommetjies from the Creation dam, for an irresistible Waterblommetjie Risotto, that is served with the Pinot Noir. Learn more about how Pinot Noir became one of the world’s biggest grapes here.
To partner the umami-rich Syrah Grenache, Chef Jean has picked Overberg lamb which he smokes with rooibos and wild rosemary and grills on a griddle pan. The succulent lamb is served with Macerated Tomato and Chakalaka Sauce, the latter a spicy relish that has its origins in South Africa’s mining fraternity.
Chapter 6 of the Heritage menu features the Chardonnay, served with two South African stalwarts: Koesisters and Malva Pudding. Koesisters are one of Chef Marcelle Dreyer’s family favourites. A novel touch is the traditional Swiss Basler Leckerli which is aptly served in honor of Cellarmaster Jean-Claude’s heritage.
Order Creation’s superb Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Reserve Chardonnay, Reserve Pinot Noir, Reserve Syrah, Sauvignon blanc and Syrah/Grenache here.
Chef Abongile Mafevuka’s Umfino, a traditional Xhosa dish which reminds him of his mother’s wise words: “Always watch where you walk as there are many valuable plants that can be used in Umfino. If people in South Africa know about this healthy dish, there would be less hunger.” Abongile ‘modernised’ the dish with peppadews, sunflower seeds, goat’s milk cheese and a variety of herbs and greens to perfectly pair with the Creation Sauvignon Blanc.
Umfino, Charred Broccoli, Goat’s Milk Cheese, Peppadews
3 tbls olive oil
55 g diced onion
75 g spring onion
250 g spinach (chiffonade)
7 g chopped garlic
150 g maize meal
7 g fresh thyme
20 g fresh coriander (chopped)
10 g celery leaves (chopped)
50 g water
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion, spring onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add spinach, coriander, thyme and celery. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir in the maize meal and add water, season with salt and stir. Combine until spinach is wilted and the maize meal resemble mashed potatoes. Transfer the mix to a bar blender and add the bicarb. Blend for 5 seconds. Transfer to a tray and set aside until cool enough to handle. Shape into 15 g balls and deep fry at 160° C for 2 minutes.
Goat’s milk cheese mixture
100 g goat’s milk cheese
80 g chopped peppadew (brunoise)
60 g toasted sunflower seeds
juice of 1 lime
10 ml olive oil
Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
330 g broccoli
Break broccoli into small florets. Char in a hot pan with a little bit of oil and season with salt.
sorrel flowers and leaves
Vegan or Lactose Intolerant: No goat’s milk cheese, but dairy-free cream cheese
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