Black Elephant Vintners & Ryan’s Kitchen Team Up

Words: Julie Velosa

If you’re not familiar with the Black Elephant Vintners range of wine, well then, it’s time you get acquainted. The wine brand, and the team behind it, are a renegade bunch, whose approach to wine is entirely different to many others on the market.

You might think with a name like Black Elephant Vintners that you could pick up a bottle sporting wildlife that would make the perfect gift for your overseas friends. But you couldn’t be more wrong.

Interestingly the name is a hybrid of the two owners names – ‘black’ refers to Kevin Swart, one of the founders of the brand, and the ‘elephant’ to Raymond Ndlovu (ndlovu meaning elephant), Kevin’s business partner and long time friend. The pair met as stockbrokers who worked together in Johannesburg and when their company was sold, Kevin packed up and moved to Franschhoek, with Raymond following a little while later. It may seem like a cliché to make your money in the financial services industry and then pack it all in for life in the country, but it’s a great trade off. And, if any of us were given the same opportunity, we’d undoubtedly also leap at it.

The names and labels of the wines are creative, contemporary and fun, each with a special meaning to the team and a relationship to the wine. Black Elephant Vintners is a young wine brand that shakes off grandiosity and instead brings a fresh, laid back quality to wine drinking, without compromising on quality. 

Black Elephant Vintners - Two Dogs, A peacock and a Horse

Kevin Swart - Black Elephant Vintners

The pair don’t claim to know everything about making wine, they leave that to winemaker Jacques Wentzel (ex Warwick and Môreson), but what they do endeavour to create are wines that they love to drink. Their aim is to remove the pretentiousness from wine drinking, not by making cheap wines, but rather by making serious wines to be enjoyed in a lighthearted and convivial manner.

As Raymond says, “You seldom remember a wine, but you do remember moments that are created by sharing a bottle”.

He believes that opening a bottle of wine is a gateway to a sharing of ideas and friendship and each bottle expresses this in its own way.

Black Elephant Vintners has partnered up with Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek

It is fitting then that Black Elephant Vintners has partnered up with Ryan’s Kitchen in Franschhoek to put together a tasting menu. The idea is to sit down and get to know the wines as they are presented, paired with tasty morsels. Best enjoyed, of course, in good company.

There are two options of tasting menu available at Ryan’s Kitchen , a 4-course and a 7-course. If you prefer you can just taste the wines, but the experience of both together should really not be missed.


Kicking off the 7-course menu is the Black Elephant Vintners MCC, a beautifully slick black-on-black packaged bottle, encasing a beautiful bubbly that does not disappoint. The accompanying dish – compressed, rolled octopus is served with a refreshing apple ceviche and a signature accompaniment – Ryan’s black pepper meringue.

Next was fish sashimi, served in seaweed stock. The stock was positively bursting with delicious umami flavour, the kind that washes over your tongue and leaves you immediately wanting more. It needed a bold wine to stand up to it and BEV’s Fox and Flamingo Rosé was a perfect pairing. Not your average Rosé, this full-bodied wine is a ruby red colour and holds up surprisingly well to warm foods.

Without giving away the rest of the pairing menu entirely, the courses continue as a dégustation should, from lighter to heavier, with some surprises in between. One of the standouts that must be mentioned however, is the course of sous vide buttery baby potato with snoek and chives. One of the tastiest bites I’ve had this year, full of the kind of decadent richness that hits the satiating button right on the head. The richness was balanced by sipping on BEV’s Timothy White, a blend of Chenin, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.

The menu works up to a final course of beautifully, fall-apart-tender lamb, served with Amistad Syrah. Either coincidentally, or perhaps purposefully, this final wine sums up the BEV brand as a whole and is a fitting way to end off. The word Amistad means friendship in Spanish and the label shows a powerful image of two hands in a grip of friendship. With the mantra of the brand being about sharing, enjoyment and the appreciation of the good life, it seems like the right note to finish on.

No doubt by the end of seven courses and seven tastings you’ll not only know the wines better but you’ll have shared a good many laughs and made memories along the way.

4-course option food and wine R235 | 7-course option food and wine R330 | Booking is recommended | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram  & | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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