Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
12-Year-Old Biodynamic Masterpieces from South Africa
Rozendal vinegar is, without question, one of the most wonderful products we sell. We’ve had them on the shelves at the Deli for something like fifteen years now and they remain, year in and year out, super special. Caringly crafted, beautifully presented, exceptionally delicious. They’re not inexpensive, I know, but they really are remarkable. Literally, almost everyone who tastes them falls in love! They are, I realize, a perfect embodiment of the idea of treating our work and lives like art. Honestly, I’m honored to have them on our shelves. And on my counter at home.
A Sustainable Approach to Producing
The vinegars are made by the Ammann family in Stellenbosch, on the southwest coast of South Africa. Long a grape grower and wine producer, Kurt Ammann took the family farm organic in 1994. He went even further by going biodynamic back in 2001. Nothing in a biodynamic setting is taken for granted, and the Ammann’s work is no exception. Nathalie Ammann, Kurt’s daughter, shared that, “Our main focus was Biodynamics, but I also did a permaculture course quite some years back and really loved the way design was used to integrate living with your landscape. We still draw on permaculture practices from time to time when relevant. Sustainability and a holistic approach in everything we do remain our firm principles and we are very proud of the fact that we have not used any chemical fertilizers or pesticides on our property for almost 25 years.” Their work in the fields is inspiring! My own study of permaculture has been intensifying over the last few years and I was excited to find out that people whose product I already loved had been applying the principles!
The vinegars start with natural conversion of the Ammann’s already well-made and nicely-matured wines. The natural conversion to vinegar over many months protects the flavors of the wine and also the natural health benefits of the vinegar. The herbs are then added to the vinegar and the infusions are allowed to mature another four or five years. The total maturation is about 12 years, all done in oak barrels. The results, as I said, are superb! Imagine maybe a great balsamic, but with a bouquet of additional flavors—many unique to South Africa—enhancing its already existing excellence. The complexity, the soft, round, sweetness, the long lingering finish are all there in force. They’ve got big, slightly tingly, subtly sweet, fantastic flavors with great complexity, and very, very long, very lovely, finishes.
Four Great Flavors
We have four of the Rozendal vinegars at the Deli. All are great on salads, for sipping, mixing with a bit of soda water for a non-alcoholic aperitif, or marvelous for marinades.
- Fynbos Vinegar is my favorite of the four (and also available at Mail Order)—it’s infused with an array of the region’s herbs and flowers: South African honeybush, buchu, wild olive, wild rosemary, and rose geranium.
- Hibiscus — with rosehip, elderflower and vanilla bean.
- Green tea — with chilis, carob, lavender, kelp and bay leaf.
- Lavender — infused with organic lavender grown right on the farm.
I could go on and on and on, but space is tight and the flavor is big.