A Brighton Wine Lunch at the Gingerman with Journey’s End.
South African wine producers have taken advantage of the opening up of international markets to improve the quality and marketing of their wines. Journey’s End Vineyards are an ambitious family-owned winery aiming to become one of the leading mid-market South African producers and we have been invited to The Gingerman in Brighton for lunch to sample their wines and to meet their youthful winemaker Mike Dawson. Owned by the Gabb Family, Journey’s End is situated in the Somerset West Stellenbosch Appellation in the Western Cape just 6km from the coast at the point where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The estate has wonderful views across False Bay to the Cape of Good Hope. The influence of south-eastern sea winds gives the wines a hint of salinity and the proximity of the Schaabenberg mountain range makes the area much cooler than most of the Stellenbosch. The winery produces 50-60k bottles per annum and is nearly carbon-neutral using solar panelling for power and in line with this eco-philosophy, the wines are made with minimum intervention. The Gingerman was the first of the 4 Brighton area restaurants in the Ginger group and has been a mainstay of the local scene since the late ‘90s and an important player in the Brighton food renaissance. As the restaurant already stocks Journey’s End wines and is by the sea it has to be the perfect venue for a tasting. We started off by tasting two Chardonnays with a tantalising trio of amuse-bouches and some excellent sourdough bread served with whipped thyme butter. The Journey’s End V1 Chardonnay 2018 (£l5.49 – available from Waitrose online) is a single vineyard wine stored in 25% new oak barrels and aged from between 6-9 months. It was creamy with a good structure and lychee and lime notes. It would be perfect with Asian dishes or scallops. The Journeys End Destination Chardonnay 2018 (£25 – available in the on/trade only) is 100% naturally fermented with the yeast giving a honeyed sweetness at the end alongside peach notes. Stored in French oak barrels it’s a much bigger wine in a classic Old World style that is more than a match for similar Old World wines at around the same price point. The Gingerman’s crab scotch egg with pickled kohlrabi and a sauce vierge is one of the sexiest starters I have had in a long time. With a cheeky quail’s egg inside it was wonderfully light, packed with crab meat and came bathed in a feisty crab velouté. Tender and rich slow-cooked pig cheeks were served with a fluffy potato mousse and a ravigouté dressing. They were a great match with our next two wines, a pair of Merlots, though lamb would be an obvious pairing choice. The Bluegum Merlot 2017 (£13.50 – available from Sainsbury’s) was powerful with its pepperiness balanced by soft red fruit flavours. Journeys End Single Vineyard Merlot 2015 (£15 – available in the on/trade, including The Gingerman) is another single vineyard wine fermented with just one yeast strain. It’s a full-bodied wine which at 14.5 % alcohol packs a punch and is bursting with blackberry flavours. For our mains, we tried a dish of perfectly cooked local skate wing with a peach purée and tenderstem broccoli with a wonderful wild mushroom velouté summoning up autumn on the plate. A meat fest of braised aged beef with thick tender slices of grilled sirloin came with a Boudin Blanc, smoked garlic purée and cheese and onion potato with a splash of rosemary oil adding a sweet herbal tone. It was a perfect pairing with The Journeys End Sir Lowry Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (RRP £14.99 – available from Waitrose). Named after an ex-Governor of the Cape, the vines for this 14.5% alcohol wine are grown on decomposed granite with the pressed juice being left on the skin for 2 weeks. The result is a fresh, fruity wine with rum and raisin flavours. Moving back to the whites I loved a fluffy blackcurrant soufflé and its meltingly sweet honeycomb ice cream accompaniment. And the selection of four British cheeses – Sister Sarah, Tunworth, Brighton Blue, Lancashire Bomb with pickled celery and a honey jelly were the perfect end to a delicious boozy lunch.
The Journeys End wines are well worth investigating as well as being readily available. They offer excellent value for the quality and the care that has gone into the winemaking and have an individuality that brings the essence of the Western Cape into the bottle.
For more about the wines, check the Journeys End website here
21a Norfolk Square,
Brighton BN1 2PD