Tempering tannins with the perfect partners

Pairing two seductive luxuries – wine and chocolate – sounds completely logical, yet the process is intricately complex. Chocolatier Richard von Geusau, with the help of Kevin Arnold, decided to navigate a course to develop a range of chocolates to match Waterford Estate’s award-winning wines.

Market Day in Greyton is a bustling flurry of sounds and smells, and the Overberg town is buzzing with visitors from across the region. In a beautiful, oak-lined street, just off the main road, one of South Africa’s top chocolatiers is selling an exclusive selection of heavenly artisanal chocolate slabs and truffles. Not many who walk past can resist the indulgent offering.

Chocolatier Richard von Geusau’s partnership with Waterford Estate stirred shortly after the accountant swopped his daily dash for a life of ganache. After digesting a book written by the world-acclaimed Chantal Coady from Rococo fame, Richard contacted the London-based chocolatier and made arrangements to visit her. After this inspirational appointment, his mind was made up and he went on to complete a chocolatier training programme in Belgium.

From humble beginnings, Richard set up a small chocolate emporium in Greyton, working only with the finest couvertures from Belgium. Over weekends, he sold his indulgent chocolates at fairs and events. And so it was at a food fair in Constantia that he met Waterford Estate Managing Partner Kevin Arnold, who had also just started producing wines under the Waterford Estate label.

While researching tannin profiles, Kevin’s interest was piqued by the similarities and comparison of grapes and other foods, including chocolate. The chance meeting was an opportunity to explore this relationship further.

Three perfect pairs

Many hours of tasting wine and chocolate followed – a dream endeavour to find perfection. Almost two decades later, visitors to Waterford Estate can still enjoy the success of these two tenacious tumbadores’ tasting sessions in the Estate’s courtyard.

The Estate’s popular Wine & Chocolate Experience currently pairs three wines with chocolates specifically created for this purpose: a Rock Salt Dark Chocolate is paired with the wonderfully elegant Waterford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; Richard’s Masala Chai Dark Chocolate is paired with the spice found in Kevin Arnold Shiraz; and the Rose Geranium Milk Chocolate is paired with the seductive Waterford Heatherleigh.

When the duo started to develop the tasting experience, Richard’s aim was to add components to the chocolate that would bring additional elements to the wine. “I tried not to simply complement the wine, but to add another dimension. It was (and still is) my job to bring the chocolate to the wine, and not the other way around.”

While thousands of visitors have since had the pleasure of participating in the now-renowned Wine & Chocolate Experience, perfectly pairing the wine with the chocolate is an ongoing process. Every year, when Waterford Estate’s new vintages are released, the recipes are revisited and tweaked once more – now with the help of winemaker Mark le Roux.

The success of the tasting experience, Richard believes, lies in its authenticity. It was created for the sole purpose of celebrating the wonderful flavours in Waterford Estate’s wines. As such, it’s a South African experience unlike any other – and one that should be on every wine lover’s bucket list.

Give the Waterford Estate Wine & Chocolate Experience a try: pop in at the Tasting Room, buy a Wine & Chocolate Experience voucher for a friend, or order a gift box that contains all three of the wine-and-chocolate pairings through our online shop.

by Waterford Estate
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