Grundheim nine-year-old brandy (R395 from grundheim.co.za)
You don’t get to be rated 22nd best restaurant in the world by resting on your laurels and writing press releases. So, the six-year-old Test Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town, has reinvented itself. Out goes the reservation list booked up for months and in comes a month-by-month internet booking opportunity that opens on the 1st and is booked out in hours.
Lunch is off the menu and only 40 places are available for dinner. There are no menus – only a set offering – while when it comes to digestives and post-prandials, sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka will ring his bicycle bell and wheel a trolley of decadence to your table. It’s a bottomless trolley and Luke Dale-Roberts’ accountant will be hoping everyone will be persuaded by this Grundheim nine-year-old brandy from the Great Karoo.
For it’s the cheapest spirit by a country mile. Others featured are the 15-year-old KWV and 12-year-old Van Ryn’s. But this Grundheim has grunt – an earthy character to burn. Which fits in with the name, as brandy comes from brandewijn – Dutch for “burnt wine”. In this case, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Colombard.
First distilled on board Dutch ship De Pijl when it anchored in Table Bay three centuries ago, brandy was for a long time the national drink of farmers as wine went off in the days before refrigeration and sterile bottling.
This one tastes of nuts and apricots with an alcoholic character that signals to the stomach that the pan-seared duck breast served with an orange emulsion, turnip and cashew puree and BBQ turnips is finished.
Braaied turnips and burnt wine. No wonder gourmets from the Netherlands and the US first secure a reservation at the Test Kitchen before booking a plane ticket.
*Chosen by Test Kitchen sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka.
WATCH: We gave these people the world's best brandy, but they didn't know!