Home > Food, Provenance, Travel, Wine > De Wetshof Chardonnay d’Honneur and Cannelloni

De Wetshof Chardonnay d’Honneur and Cannelloni

Preparation Time: 60 minutes Cooking Time: 90 minutes Yield: 4

Cannelloni it seems means “large reed”, an apt description for the large pasta tubes with a savoury stuffing that carry the name, except that they are actually manicotti.

Cannelloni are made from a rectangle of cooked pasta, into which a savoury filling is rolled, then baked in either a tomato or béchamel sauce.

The closest one can come to real cannelloni without a pasta maker, is to use lasagne sheets in which to wrap your selected filling. Alternatively, one can buy what are called cannelloni tubes (but which are really manicotti!) and use them instead. They tend to be a bit finicky, because once cooked they are quite delicate, so I’d opt for the lasagne sheets instead, if you do not have a pasta maker.

Cannelloni were invented way back in 1907 in Sorrento, Italy by chef Salvatore Coletta, who cooked at La Favorita. Originally called strascinati because the pasta dough was rolled and stretched with a rolling pin, they acquired the name cannelloni some years later. Popularised by Nicola Federico who worked at La Favorita for 31 years, there is an engaging tale of 120kg of cannelloni being prepared and consumed at the restaurant one Sunday during WWII.

Popular fillings are spinach and ricotta with a béchamel sauce or Bolognese with a tomato sauce. I settled on the latter.

Ingredient Selection and Preparation

8-12 pasta sheets OR cannelloni tubes: like I said, you can use the premade tubes, lasagne sheets or roll your own.

(Bolognese Sauce)

1 large onion: peeled and chopped.

1 pinch cinnamon

500g beef mince

1 x 400g can tomatoes: if whole, chop them in the can either with scissors or a stab blender.

1 x 70g can tomato paste

3 cloves garlic: crushed.

1tsp oreganum

3tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

100g Parmesan cheese: grated.

(Tomato Sauce)

2 x 400g cans tomatoes

3 cloves garlic: crushed.

1tsp oreganum

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Make the Bolognese sauce first. Heat a medium saucepan and add the olive oil. Add the onion, stir in the cinnamon and sweat over a low heat until it is soft and translucent.

Add the mince, and turn up the heat and cook until almost all the moisture has cooked out of the meat.

Add the chopped tomato, tomato paste and oreganum. Mix and cook covered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, make the tomato sauce. Add the two cans of chopped tomatoes and oreganum to a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then turn right down and simmer covered for 45 minutes.

Add the garlic to both the Bolognese and the tomato sauce, and season both to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, and add 1tbsp of salt to the water.

Boil the pasta according to package instructions until it is just al dente then drain. If you’re using fresh pasta rectangles, you’ll only need to boil them for three to four minutes.

By now, the Bolognese sauce should be ready. Spread it on a baking tray to cool it off quickly.

Butter or lightly oil a suitably sized casserole dish, large enough to just accommodate all your cannelloni in a single layer.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C.

If using the tubes, stuff them carefully using a teaspoon. If using pasta sheets, carefully roll a heaped tbsp full into each sheet, and even off the ends with a teaspoon.

Arrange in the casserole dish, and cover with the hot tomato sauce.

Bake in mid-oven for about 15 minutes then remove, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Switch to grill, and return the casserole to the oven, until the cheese is golden brown.

Serve with a crisp green salad. Enjoy!

Chardonnay – the perfect wine with this dish

Eppie listens attentively as Danie de Wet talks about the vineyards below on the De Wetshof farm.

During a recent weekend trip to Robertson, we spent a delightful evening with Danie and Lesca de Wet at De Wetshof.

After a sumptuous lunch at the tasting room complex on the Friday, Danie took us on a guided tour of the vineyards. Standing on the slope in the south eastern corner of the estate on an early August afternoon looking out over the vineyards, Danie pointed out the various blocks of vines from which the different incarnations of his Chardonnay come. His understanding of the soils in which the vines grow, with surprising variations within a single vineyard block, is evident when you listen to him describing in detail the characteristics of the wine that comes from each block of vines.

The fact that he makes six different Chardonnays – and each is distinctive – from the grapes grown on the main estate and the nearby Bon Vallon farm just a short distance south, highlights just how much variety there is in the fruit he has to work with.

Emile Joubert and Danie de Wet above the Pinot Noir vineyards at Bon Vallon, just south of the main farm.

For dinner that night, Lesca made her legendary afval (the real thing!) along with butter-soft leg of lamb and watterblommetjies, accompanied by soetpampoen, soetwortels and groenboointjies en artappel truly a repast fit for a king.

The evening passed all too quickly, with Danie, in true raconteur mode regaling us with tales of his distinguished career in the wine industry, from his student days at the University of Geisenheim, his time as chairman of KWV, and the years he has spent crafting fine wines at De Wetshof. We tasted a vast array of wines that night, some as old as 28 years, included amongst which were some of his stellar Chardonnays.

When we said our reluctant farewells the following morning, after a lightning tour of the cellar, I took along a selection of Danie’s wines, included amongst which was a bottle of 2006 Chardonnay d’Honneur, a delightfully complex example of this legendary Burgundian. It worked perfectly with this dish.

Eppie and Danie outside the magnificent tasting room complex, just before we said our reluctant farewells.

Pale straw yellow in colour, it exudes aromas of nutty creaminess on lime and butterscotch notes, with a subtle mineral edge.

Compelling acidity supports nutty and yeasty flavours which are underpinned by lime-infused minerality in mid-palate. The finish is long, and shows well integrated wood with a gentle tannic nip in the tail.

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