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Posted by on in Wine

After a surfeit of gourmet, gimmicks, leaves and ferments, Myrna Robins is ready for simple, rustic, flavour-packed classics. Turn to bistros, she suggests, to find time-honoured  Gallic  creations, made with love, prepared with  care and offered at palate-pleasing prices.

 


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It’s that time of the year when the best of everything is awarded medals and certificates and, of course, gets welcome publicity. The recent Eat Out awards saw Western Cape restaurants take nine out of the Top Ten places, with a single Gauteng venue taking fifth place. While culinary practices of pickling, smoking, foraging and fermenting continue to be prominent on menus, the Eat Out website suggests that the hottest current trend is that of vegetarian “charcuterie”,  illustrated by colourful pictures of artfully arranged forests of leaves, strewn with edible flowers , funghi  and baby veggies.

While it’s exciting to explore the world of gourmet innovation, few can afford to dine at these exalted venues regularly. The appeal of popular alternatives – burger and pizza joints and Asian noodle bars – can also pall. Time, perhaps,  to consider finding a neighbourhood  bistro, preferably one that offers traditional French  dishes.  If the quality of ingredients and the care taken in combining them are regarded as the yardsticks by which to judge the fare, you probably have a winner. Of less importance is the plating, likely to be straightforward with nary  a wisp of foam, puddle of essence or scattering of crumbs in sight.

French bistro food celebrates generous, full-flavoured cooking, family  fare that includes robust soups, rustic salads, wine-scented stews and casseroles, bubbling gratins and granny’s desserts.  It adds up to inexpensive soul food from small eateries all over France, where pride and tradition ensure maintenance of quality: even truck drivers would not continue to frequent bistros where popular  items like sausage and potato salad, coq au vin, salade niçoise and  lemon tart were not consistently good.  Summer may see pan bagnat or pissaladière on the menu or mussels steamed in white wine, while winter warmth comes as  pot au feu  and chicken with tarragon vinegar. Creations are  usually well-balanced, combining  chicken roasted in chicken fat or butter with fresh watercress to foil the richness and  leg of lamb roasted above a gratin of potato, onion and tomato, the latter flavoured by the meat juices which drip into it.

b2ap3_thumbnail_BISTRO-Christophe.JPGWhere to find these sources of Gallic goodness? Meet one of our most popular of French chefs, known to hundreds of Cape diners: Christophe Dehosse  has lived in  South Africa for some 25 years, where he has delighted  locals and visitors with both gourmet cuisine and now bistro fare in two venues.

Paris-trained, Christophe was working in a well-known restaurant in Cognac country when he met Susan Myburgh, who grew up at the historic Joostenberg farm, near  Klapmuts. The couple relocated  to South Africa where they opened the popular La Maison de Chamonix restaurant on the Franschhoek wine estate in 1992, then  moved to the city and started the Au Jardin restaurant at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands  two years later. Regulars were devastated when they left the suburbs to join the Myburgh family enterprises:  a farm stall and nursery at Klein Joostenberg soon blossomed into a deli and bistro, while a pork butchery, cut flowers, and a winery on the old farm occupy  other family members.

Today the deli and bistro are well established, the wines attract awards and Christophe leaves the kitchen to head chef Garth Bedford, who started as a trainee way back at Au Jardin.  A  peek at the a la carte menu reveals a delectable choice of bistro classics: starters include homemade charcuterie with terrine, rillette, cured pork and ham with a mini-bobotie quiche for local flavour. Mains offer that famous toasted sandwich Croque Monsieur, English-style pork sausage with apple sauce and mashed potato, and braised beef and mushroom ragout in red wine on homemade pasta.  Families that reserve tables for Sunday lunch can expect trays of starters to include items like brawn and pickles, hummus, a vegetarian roulade and salads with homebaked breads.  Their choice of main course could vary from tuna steak with ratatouille and sauce vierge to slow-cooked Karoo lamb or roast shoulder of pork.  The final course is a mélange of local cheeses,  classic floating islands, fresh strawberries and a blueberry cheesecake. This feast costs R205, while children can enjoy two courses for R85. The value is obvious and the culinary standards consistently high, and advance bookings are required.

When I heard that chef patron Dehosse was to open a bistro on the sophisticated Glenelly wine estate outside Stellenbosch, I wondered if the downhome bistro principles could be maintained: a recent lunch there has proved that indeed they can. He continues to be inspired by traditional French fare, sourcing ingredients from local organic growers, adding a soupcon of African  flavours to the mix. A starter of tuna tartare preceded silverfish or beef fillet in red wine sauce  and chocolate fondant with poached pear and yoghurt Chantilly completed the meal. Prices are higher here than at Joostenberg, but, says Christophe firmly, Glenelly is still a bistro where no jacket is required.

It ‘s a measure of his talent that Glenelly’s owner, 91-year-young Madame May de Lencquesaing chose a chef who specializes in rustic  fare to complement her ranges of distinctive estate wines, which offer Old World elegance and New World fruit in appealing combinations. Visitors can choose to dine at long wooden tables on the terrace, or inside where antique chairs and classic Parisian tables offer views of  verdant hills of manicured vineyards. 

 

This article first appeared in the Life section of the Cape Argus on Tuesday November 29.

 

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This inviting, unpretentious Durbanville estate scores on so many levels. That it has managed to fend off suburban creep (which had already reached its boundaries decades ago) is something to celebrate. That the clever Parkers have managed to maintain the original cellar, the ringmuur and slave bell, the ambience of a bygone era are equally important. (the farm was granted by Simon van der Stel in 1698 and named Tygerberg)

And the fact that, along with the lesser-known cultivars that the cellar has been producing (barbera, gewürztraminer) and sauvignon blanc, the winemaking trio have now added a cab to their ranges, rounding out the choices nicely.

To start with the cabernet sauvignon 2015, this is a pleasing example of modern cab-making, easy on the palate, yet with plenty of body, and a delicious freshness. Described as full-bodied, but I found it less so than many others, making it suitable for summer drinking, and as a good partner for fare other than red meat – a mushroom burger for example.

Juicy tannins, a smooth finish, and plenty of lightly spiced berry flavours add up to a well-balanced whole. The grapes came from 17-year-old bush vines, and the wine was aged in French oak for 10 months.

Priced at between R75 and R79 it’s even more appealing to stock up with a case or two as its sure to improve over the next year or two.

The 2016 vintage of sauvignon blanc was a wine I enjoyed very much – firstly because it is not searingly zesty, so no antacid tablets were required. I also loved the wide spectrum of aromas that greeted my nose whenever I unscrewed the cap – some verdant, a little green fig, and far more granadilla and other tropical fruit . These also showed on the palate, but occasional wafts of that distinctive Durbanville verdancy.

This multi-layered wine is sourced from berries from seven separate blocks of dry-land vineyards, ranging in age from 24 down to 10 years old.

This is a most companionable sauvignon, good for an aperitif or partner to summer salads, seafood and poultry. As one of the first Durbanville farms to present their award-wining sauvignon blanc in 1988 – now the region’s rallying cry – Altydgedacht’s version is an essential label on visitor itineraries. And well-priced at around R75.

 

Although gewürztraminer has grown in popularity – thanks perhaps because of its affinity with Thai and other South-east Asian cuisine – but its still fairly uncommon, and the Atltydgedacht gewurz is even more unusual as its made in the style of its European home, Alsace, that is dry rather than the off-dry vintages of other Cape cousins.

This 2015 vintage, produced from bush vines with an average age of 15 years, has just collected gold from the 2016 Michelangelo Awards.  Floral and spice on the nose, and the characteristic combo of rose petals and lychees, is followed by more of the same on the palate, balanced with a crispness and mineral hint that add to its charm. Some will find it an elegant aperitif that offers something more than conventional summer whites, others will pair it with spicy fare with great satisfaction. Expect to pay about R95.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps it’s only when you have taken part in an organic certification audit that you begin to realise the lengths wine farmers and producers need to go to to obtain that international certification.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to sit in on such an audit, and one that had particular significance for both the farmer – Patricia Werdmuller von Elgg – and one of the auditors! But let me set the scene…

If you wish to label your wines as organic, you need to have your farm and cellar certified by one of the international certification organizations. One of these is SGS, an enormous global group which certifies many manufactured as well as natural products. Because of the limited number of serious organic farmers in South Africa, SGS recently appointed a German company specialising in certifying organic agriculture to conduct the final audit and issue the certificates.

Hout Baai farm is a beautiful boutique wine farm just outside McGregor, in a high valley that looks onto the Sonderend mountains which surround it. From the owner’s terrace sweeping views over vines take the eye toward Die Galg – the saddle at the end of the “road to nowhere” - which is really a high meeting place for hikers and travellers who revel in the protea-rich fynbos which cloaks the terrain.

The picture-perfect farm has been certified as fully organic since 2005. This year Hout Baai was chosen by the certification team as an example of just how an organic farm should look and operate with a place for everything and everything in its place. The audit was particularly important as not only was the resident SGS auditor conducting the checking, but the LACON international auditor was present, overseeing the process, and both were under the eagle eye of DAkkS, the German accreditation body for that country’s Federal Republic.

The inspection date for this three-tier audit was set for mid-July, but the three arrived in Mcregor a day ahead of schedule. They settled into the office where the local representative of the certification body started her work with a long list of questions, which needed not only oral answers but proof by way of reams of paperwork. Pat Werdmuller possesses more files than I have ever seen on a farm, where delivery notes, invoices, statements, receipts and printouts provide years of proof of transactions with approved service and material providers. These were hauled out on demand, as they worked their way through how water is tested, how pipes are cleaned, what fertilizers are used. Records of purchase of guano, seaweed and donkey manure were checked then questions turned to frequency of their application and in what concentrate?

Moving to harvest time, when grape picking machines were hired, questions were asked about the possibility of their bringing in unwanted residue of non-organic matter. They are delivered the day before, replied farm manager Del Jones, “so our guys can scrub and wash them down, ready for harvesting which started at 3.30am."

If there is any doubt about dates, the diary is consulted – this set of annual volumes, dating back to when the farm started operations – is filled with daily entries of chores completed, indoors and out, accompanied by photographs as way of proof.

The second half of the audit took the form of a tour of the farm, as the visitors were shown firebreaks, and buffer trees along boundaries (to limit the chance of non-organic sprays drifting over from neighbouring farms). The approved korog, a wheat-like grass planted between the vine rows to provide a nutrient-rich mulch was starting to show green and pruning of the sauvignon blanc vines was under way , each row numbered (and named after an animal or bird that frequents the farm). Del showed the inspectors the sizeable hole dug by a friendly anteater which had these Germans looking a little bewildered. She also pointed out the camera traps which record the visits of caracals, jackals, hares and antelope, as this farm is as much of a nature reserve as it is a wine grape farm.

The compost plant and the worm farm were duly inspected, and then the stores and workshop revealed just how diligently tools are looked after and kept in their place. The farm labourers’ wendy house – cosily furnished with places for both wet and dry weather uniforms and footwear and sporting refreshment facilities – was duly admired and also noted were the required warning signs and notices detailing safety and health information both inside and outside buildings and machinery.

It came as no surprise to any of us that Hout baai farm passed inspection with flying colours and was thanked by SGS for their faultless presentation and co-operation.

Since that day I have been thinking about the number of organic wine and grape producers listed in the latest edition of the SA wine industry directory, which I received recently. In this useful compendium, published annually by WineLand media, a total of 38 organic growers and cellars are listed. According to one Western Cape producer, who shall be nameless at this stage, only three of these are certified organic. While I have not trawled through those 38 to see if they have included details of international certification in their Platter entries (if, indeed, they are all listed in Platter), it does bring up the vexed question of some producers labelling their wines as “organic” without having been certified.

“We’re all organic these days!” was a cheerful comment from one (non-organic) farmer and winemaker. Many would beg to differ.    

Those who are spending inordinate amounts of time and money to transform their farms and cellars to comply with the exacting demands of global organic auditors do so, of course, of their own free will. But it’s unsurprising they also grit their teeth in frustration at the lack of monitoring and control over those who are benefitting from the green and environmentally-conscious consumer through fraudulent labelling.

Even if farms grow grapes and produce wine organically, only those certified by an internationally accredited body – accompanied by a seal of this organisation – are entitled to label their wines as organic. However, some producers who follow organic principles in every respect choose not to be certified, because of the expensive, labour- intensive, regular, obstructive and lengthy inspections.                                                  

And to further muddy the waters, SA producers are allowed, I am told, to state on bottle labels that their wine was produced from organically grown grapes. And, what about the cellars who produce a range of organic wines alongside non-organic …

At which stage, it seems high time for a glass or two of enjoyable wine, made from organically grown and certified grapes in an organically certified cellar. Make mine a Solara sauvignon blanc. Cheers!

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Posted by on in Events

A varied lineup of events as winter gives way to a green and glorious spring!

 

Benguela on Main restaurant is offering a five-course Christmas dinner on Saturday July 30 . Chef Jean Delport is including treats like smoked breast of goose on his menu, which costs R540 a head. Pair your meal with Benguela Cove wines, and Somerset West residents can enjoy a complimentary drive service to and from the restaurant. For more information or to make a reservation to avoid disappointment, visit the website, call 087 357 0637 or email onmain@benguelacove.co.za

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 Steenberg’s Cool Runnings charity trail run takes place through the Constantia vineyards on Saturday August 6. Choose from a 5 or 10km loop. All proceeds to the Mdzananda Vet Clinic in Khayelitsha, a community project that provides quality care for ill and abandoned animals. Finish with a glass of Steenberg sparkling sauvignon blanc and follow with a free wine tasting if you wish. A Mdzananda Vet Donation Box will be available prior to the race where leashes, blankets, dog or cat food and other pet items can be dropped into.The entry fee is R130 per trail runner, R50 per teen between the ages of 12-17, while children under 12 have free entry. Registration opens at 7am outside the Bistro1682 Restaurant. Walkers are welcomed. The briefing takes place 15-minutes ahead of the race at 8am. Pre-booking is essential and can be done online at www.quicket.co.za.

 

Bottelary Hills Wine Route ‘Pop Up’ Lunch

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Savour a slow-cooked Sunday pork lunch with chef Bertus Basson on August 14 at Groenland estate when he will present a three-course lunch that smokes, sears and sizzles. The fires will be lit and guests can enjoy Bottelary Hills wine ahead of their meal. Lunch costs R350 a head, including a wine tasting and glass of wine per course. Book through www.wineroute.co.za or Tel: (021) 886 8275 or marketing@wineroute.co.za

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Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines

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This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town on Thursday, 18 August at the CTICC from 6pm and in Johannesburg on Wed August 24 at the Atrium, Nedbank Sandton at 6pm. Tickets cost R250 which includes a tasting glass.

Wine enthusiasts cantaste these unique collectors’ wines crafted exclusively in small volumes for the 2016 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction by the Guild’s 47 members.Members of the Guild will also be presenting some of their acclaimed offerings sold under their own labels. Guests can also bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. Founded in 1999, the Development Trust seeks to transform the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, a highly acclaimed mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.Tickets can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za

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“WE LOVE WINE” FEST RETURNS TO CAPEGATE 

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If Calling northern suburbs winelovers! Just ahead of spring, head to Capegate Shopping Centre for a great weekend wine fest, taking place from 5 - 9pm on Friday August 26 and from 12 noon to 6pm on Saturday 27th.

 

 

Festival visitors can taste and buy more than 100 wines directly from the wineries, which include large producers with well-known brands and smaller boutique and family-owned wineries, giving a taste of the best of South Africa’s winelands in one venue.

 

The Cape Wine Academy is presenting a wine theatre (Three sessions on Friday and four sessions on Saturday) with fun tastings and pairings on the programme at set times.

 

Participating wineries include: Alexanderfontein/Ormonde, Arendskloof/Eagle’s Cliff, Beyerskloof Wines, Biocape Wines, Bonnievale Cellar, Diemersfontein Wines, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Deux Frères Wines, Du Toitskloof Wines, Edgebaston, Eerstehoop Wines, Fledge & Co, Groenland, Imbuko Wines, La Couronne Wine Estate, MWS, Orange River Cellars, Overhex Wines International, Perdeberg Winery, Peter Bayly Wines, Stellenbosch Hills, Villiera Wines, Villiersdorp Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

 

The Pebbles Project, which looks after disadvantaged children, especially those impacted by alcohol, is the charity beneficiary of the festival and will be present to spread their message and raise funds and awareness.

 

Tickets from the door or through www.quicket.co.za  cost R70 pp (Includes a branded tasting glass) Bookings for the CWA theatre sessions can be made at the ticket office.

 

For up to date information, visit www.capegatecentre.co.za

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Bot River hosts blooming nice Spring Weekend

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Enjoy a relaxed weekend in the Overberg from September 2 – 4 during the annual fest hosted by the winemaking community. The region features 11 wine farms, each of which will offer attractions ranging from farm fare, olive oils, fine wines and local talent. Attractions include sausage-making course at Luddite, oysters and bubbles from Genevieve MCC, fynbos hikes at Paardenkloof, lunch at Wildekrans and at Gabrielskloof. Plenty to amuse the small fry as well. Farms will be open from 10am to 4pm. Tickets (weekend pass) cost R100 and obtainable from www.quicket.co.za .For more information on the Bot River Spring Weekend 2016 contact Melissa Nelsen at Cell: 083 302 6562 or email Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za.

 

MIKI CIMAN OF LA MASSERIA INTRODUCES SMALLER CHEESE MAKERS

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Be it gorgonzola, pecorino, fontina, mozzarella, provolone, brie, chèvre, blue or cheddar, the Say Cheese! Artisan Cheese Fair will celebrate all things cheese on 24 and 25 September 2016 at the Italian Club, Milnerton. THE event will bring together artisan cheesemakers, cheese lovers, bakers, brewers and visitors. Says Ciman, “The Fair will allow guests to appreciate every step of the farm-to-table process of cheese making, while highlighting the extraordinary local talent we have in this field. Chefs will take part and wine will be on sale. Tickets will be on sale at the door, at R80 for adults and R30 for children from 11 – 18. Children under 10 go in free.For further information, please email Kiki at saycheesefair@gmail.com or phone Elize Nel on 072 795 4214.

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Posted by on in Reviews

A CULINARY JOURNEY OF SOUTH AFRICAN INDIGENOUS FOODS [compiled] by Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga and Ursula Moroane-Kgomo. Published by Indiza Co-operative and Modjaji Books. 2015.

 

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Myrna Robins enjoyed the gastronomic trip through our provinces, but questions the fare included in one of the chapters.

Those following western diets may gulp at thought of a snack of salted stinkbugs fried in butter, while others – who spend as little time as possible in the kitchen – may appreciate the Swati dish Indakala,or boiled,salted peanuts. Both can be found in the second edition of a compilation of our indigenous dishes, following on the original, published in 2000 through the CSIR.

The new and intriguing collection of heritage recipes from 11 ethnic groups across South Africa, reveals that much of the fare is also contemporary, as current generations of rural cooks continue to use local ingredients and traditional recipes to feed their families.

IndiZA Foods is a Pretoria-based company headed by MD Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga and Operations Director Ursula Moroane-Kgomo, both high-powered businesswomen with degrees in food science, business management and considerable experience in the food industry. Both are also passionate about the preservation of indigenous culinary cultures, women empowerment and rural development. Their joint enthusiasm resulted in the publication of this worthy addition to our traditional culinary literature.

Women in the rural communities were invited to submit recipes for the food they cook daily: These reveal simple fare using local ingredients, occasionally enlivened by stock cubes, seasonings, and items like margarine. Several high schools were also involved in the project.

The compilers started in North West, with Tswana dishes and went on to Mpumalanga where Ndebele and Swati specialities were hunted down. The Free State yielded Sotho staple fare and the northern province of Limpopo saw recipes collected from Tsonga, Pedi and Venda cuisines. In the Eastern Cape the Xhosa gastronomic heritage was celebrated and Kwa –Zulu Natal presented Zulu menus. From the Western Cape comes a listing described as Khoisan recipes and the final grouping is Afrikaans marked, somewhat strangely, as centred in Gauteng.

The dishes are, as one would expect, simple, largely straightforward renderings of grains, legumes and leaves, gourds and tubers, sparked by indigenous fruits and enlivened by worms and insects. Beef and chicken feature occasionally. There is not a single seafood recipe in this collection.

Perhaps because of their (comparatively) exotic nature, I enjoyed browsing through the cuisines of the northern groups in particular: Among the Pedi recipes is one labelled baobab-fruit yoghurt, a good start to the day, while Venda cooks lift their protein intake with Mashonzha (mopani worms and peanuts) and Thongolifha (stinkbugs fried in butter ). Several species of Morogo, or wild leaves are used, including Pigweed or Amarinth, Blackjack, Spider plant, pumpkin, and wild jute. Breads are uncommon, but the Tswana make Diphaphata, a flatbread using wheat flour, Ndebele cooks use brown bread flour for their steamed bread, while others are based on mealie meal. Desserts are almost non-existent although there’s a Sotho recipe for bottling peaches in sugar syrup.

I contacted the compilers to ask why Gauteng was used as a source for Afrikaans recipes and was told that they invited several groups in the Western and Northern Cape to take part, without success, so eventually resorted to finding them from Gauteng-based Afrikaners. The recipes are authentic Cape cuisine, dishes that have become South African classics.

I gazed, somewhat incredulously, at the pictures and recipes in the Khoisan section, pages where I expected to find items like shellfish, venison, ghaap, sour figs, veldkool, waterblommetjies, and perhaps drinks based on milk. Instead, there’s a Greek-style salad with feta and olives, a caramel pud and a standard white bread recipe. Liver and onions and a mutton potjie (with red wine and packet soup powder) could just pass muster but there is virtually nothing that says “Khoisan” or “Khoi-khoin” in this mini-collection. The recipes were sourced from a group of cooks in Vredendal, and I contacted one of the contributors to ask her how these came to be regarded as Khoisan. Freda Wicomb is the housekeeper at a local boarding school, and is a popular and capable cook, but she had no answer, saying this was how she cooked.

Khoisan, referring to two distinct groups of early South African inhabitants, is a term that should not be applied to their cuisines, as they were very different. The Bushmen, or San were hunter-gatherers while the Khoi were herders. The latter group’s culinary and cultural heritage has been well researched, by fundis such as Dr Renata Coetzee whose brilliant book Kukumakranka presents an exhaustive discussion on the subject. Ingredients used in the past can still be found today, and cooks of both Griqua and Nama descent use veldkos in their potjies, and make askoek, potbrood and vetkoek, as did their forbears.

I suggested that the compilers also contact Chef Shaun Schoeman of Solms Delta’s Fyndraai restaurant, whose Heritage menu includes Khoe-Khoen breads, waterblommetjie soup and desserts starring herbs like buchu, for their next edition.

Kgaladi Thema-Sethoga assures me this section will be more authentic and will also include Cape Malay cuisine. Sadly we will have to wait until 2024 for the new edition.

Meanwhile, this title, illustrated with photographs of many of the recipes, is well-indexed and includes information on many of the ingredients unknown to western cooking. The book is endorsed by the SA Chefs Association and supported by the Department of Arts and Culture.

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Victorian wine cellar at Mont Rochelle

 

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Great to see winemaker Dustin Osborne back in the mountainside cellar of Mont Rochelle. Pretty sure I recognised one or two of the staff at the Country Kitchen as well; if they were there seven years ago, then I am probably right in thinking I met them when gathering information on this unique farm for my Franschhoek Food cookbook.

Champagne was its first name, given to this picturesque stretch by Abraham de Villiers in 1694. It changed to an equally positive Goedehoop more than a century later, finally was christened Mont Rochelle by a 20th century descendant, Graham de Villiers when he acquired it. Earlier this century then owners of hotel and vineyards, Erwin Schnitzler and Miko Rwayitare merged the two to create Mont Rochelle hotel and Mountain vineyards, and newly appointed winemaker Dustin Osborne started producing some memorable reds, one of which is the farm’s flagship red blend today.

Although Franschhoek is a sophisticated village growing increasingly used to foreigners buying bits and pieces, the acquisition of the estate by Virgin Limited Edition collection, and Richard Branson in particular, caused a buzz, which died down while renovations were undertaken at the hotel and gourmet restaurant, and at the rustic Country Kitchen and picturesque cellar.

The latter two venues have not changed much – the 150 year-old-cellar, a former fruit packshed, is as appealing as ever, although Dustin is happier with new flooring and updated machinery. The restaurant, open to terrace and lawns lining a big dam, is still relaxed, serving deli-type fare inside and out, along with picnics.

During a recent visit, a handful of wine writers started their tasting in the cellar, with a charming sauvignon blanc 2015, grapes from the farm’s 22 -year-old vineyards, the fresh wine with subtle fruit lent complexity by 10% semillon and 2and half % viognier. Well-balanced and a great buy at R85.

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Osborne has long been a champion chardonnay maker, and his latest, Mont Rochelle’s 2015 chardonnay is as good as any I remember. It’s elegant, fresh, with tangible minerality, full-bodied, with a long finish. Limited edition from vines planted in ’94, just over half barrel-matured, this is equally delicious as an aperitif or complementing voguish salads and well-bred poultry. We paired

[Caption: Dustin Osborne, Enrico Jacobs and Jenny Prinsloo in picnic mode] Photograph: Shantelle Visser

it with an inspired cauliflower and vanilla risotto – memorable. The wine is also reasonably priced at R100 from farm.

More good news is the launch of an easy-drinking red, Little Rock Rouge 2014, a cab-based blend with merlot and splashes of mourvèdre and petit verdot adding aroma and flavour to a vibrant, enjoyable wine with smooth tannins. Along with its 2015 white counterpart, not yet released, these cost R72 each.

During Dustin’s first stint at the farm he created a fine syrah-based blend named Miko in honour of former owner the late Miko Rwayitare. This flaghip 2009 vintage wine, intense, complex, and well-balanced with dark fruit, spice and savoury undertones, is showing well and is an impressive introduction to the potential of the farm’s terroir.

Our little group had moved through cellar to lawns to tasting cellar to terrace, where we teamed this vinous star with tender venison on sweet potato. Dustin then produced a number of aged cabs which had been discovered under a floor in the adjoining manor house during renovations and an informal vertical tasting commenced, starting off with the ’96 vintage… A few of these may be added to the cellar stock for those seeking museum class reds.

 

We did not see the hotel or more formal Miko restaurant during our visit but heard that the hotel is just about full until Easter, with bookings for weddings increasing nicely. What impressed me at the winery and Country Kitchen was the informality, the friendly yet efficient service, and an atmosphere that is far from stiff or grand. One gets the impression that Branson, having appointed good staff, is content to leave his estate in capable hands. Global visitors can now move from his private game reserve, Ulusaba, in the north of South Africa to our incomparable winelands, for a holiday that can compete with the best on the planet.

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We all knew that Kleine Zalze's new cellarmaster had big boots to fill, as he took over from Johan Joubert. Alastair Rimmer's maiden chenin blanc and chardonnay are both ample, enjoyable proof that he will be carrying on the cellar's impressive reputation for over-delivery on quality and pure enjoyment with a range of wines that have attracted strings of awards both here and internationally.

The farm's Vineyard Selection chenin blanc 2015 follows in the tradition of a beautifully balanced meld of fruit with structure lent from subtle oak. Enough acidity to keep everything fresh, ideal late summer wine for both aperitifs and al fresco fare, but can safely be kept for a few years as well. A very good buy at R77.

In similar style, the Vineyard Selection chardonnay 2015, selling for R80 from cellar door is a fine example of Rimmer's talent: both Stellenbosch and Robertson grapes were sourced for this wine, which spent seven months in oak before blending and bottling. The citrus, pear and stone fruit, with apple providing a floral note, fulfil chardonnay fans' expectations, there's a mineral core, and overall elegance which combines to make this a classic with complexity that should develop further if cellared.

In best Kleine Zalze tradition, these constitute another pair of winners.

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Rose--Ken-F-Petit-Ros.jpgINb2ap3_thumbnail_Saronsberg-rose.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_Muratie-Lady-Alice-Brut-Ros.jpg THE PINK AND LOVING IT

 

The focus has been on rosé recently,as these wines are promoted for Valentines day – or weekend as it is this year. I’ve been sampling enjoyable examples while putting together a story for the national lifestyle pages of the Independent group. And, doing it during a heatwave made me appreciate the charms of a well -chilled pink, particularly those with some backbone along with berry flavours.

I am sure that the first Rickety Bridge rosé fest on Saturday the 13th is going to be a sellout – the attractions are wide-ranging and the heatwave should be past its worst, according to predictions. It’s been a while since I tasted examples of their winemaker, Wynand Grobler’s craft, but I have long regarded him as one of the valley’s most talented – and his Foundation Stone rosé (shiraz/Grenache/mourvèdre) and his scintillating NV Cap Classique brut rosé confirm my opinion.

Meanwhile, up the Franschhoek pass to La Petite Ferme, that perennially popular destination for thousands of repeat visitors, now under new Swiss ownership. There’s a new winemaker too, but the 2015 rosé, a largely merlot affair with a dash of sauvignon blanc, is still a product of the Dendy-Youngs. This salmon-tinted summer charmer presents an aroma of rose petal, with berry and cinnamon flavours, with a little sauvignon zest. It finished dry on the palate.

Staying in the Franschhoek valley, Vrede en Lust's enjoyable dry rose, named  Jess, has become a firm favourite in the Vrede en Lust range. Named after the owner's eldest daughter, this crisp wine with its berry and melon notes is a blend of mostly pinotage, with some shiraz and a dash of grenache.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenrose-3rd-attempt.jpgThe L’Avenir team from Stellenbosch is not content to produce admirable conventional pinotage, but has added a fine pinotage rosé to the range, its patrician status emphasized by an unique bottle featuring a protea-shaped punt. Glenrosé is made in the Provencal style, its nose of rose petals and strawberry and citrus ahead of a crisp, dry but fruity flavours on the palate, along with a mineral presence. This top of the range example sells for R200. b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenrose-3rd-attempt.jpg

 

 

Turning to my adopted wine region, there are two rosés that I strongly recommend to visitors heading Robertson  way soon: Tanagra’s superb example produced from cab franc has just one fault, and that is there isn’t enough of it. The other is the 2015 rosé from Quando, Fanus Bruwer’s boutique cellar near Bonnievale. He use mourvèdre for this charmer.

I also enjoyed Saronsbergs all-shiraz rosé from their Provenance range. Cellarmaster Dewaldt Heyns specializes in shiraz, among other reds, and this offers a light-hearted aside, complete with sculptor Angus Taylor’s Earth Mother on the label. Tulbagh has acquired a major red wine player with the establishment of this art-filled estate.

One would hardly know where to start when contemplating pinks from the vast Stellenbosch region, but for good value for consistent quality, the dry, fruity and flavour-packed rosé in Ken Forrester’s Petit range is ready to complement many a late summer al fresco meal.

When it comes to rosé Cap Classique bruts, I always enjoy Allee Bleue’s, the NV from Graham Beck and have heard great reports about Webersburg’s NV pinot noir/pinotage brut. Finally, its been a long time since I tasted it, but if memory serves me well, the patrician Lady Alice all-pinot, MCC from Muratie, which comes complete with tales of memorable early 20th century parties, is a bubbly to consider.

A word of thanks to those marketing colleagues who obtained rosé samples for me at such short notice – Posy, Nicolette, Melissa, hugely appreciated.

Whatever fare you’re planning for the coming weekend it’s likely that a crisp pink will pair well. Picnics, salads, sushi, shellfish, salmon, berry finales, you name it, rosé will enhance it.

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Wine Concepts “Finer Things in Life” International Sparkling Wine & Champagne Affair

 

The hosts are celebrating the 17th year of this popular event with the theme of “The Magic of Bubbles” on Friday 23rd November 2018 at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, from 18h00 to 21h00.

Cuvees for tasting from premium and boutique Champagne Houses of France,and a selection of sparkling wines from Spain, Italy and the UK will be presented. Light snacks will be servedaccompanied by livemusic and entertainment.

The bubblies will be on sale at a special discounted price. Ticket-holders will win prizes from lucky-draws. The Vineyard Hotel is offering a special stay over package for the night.

Tickets cost R500.00 from Wine Concepts stores, online on www.webtickets.co.za or at the door on the evening.

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The Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, ‘The Magic of Bubbles’

 

 

Social calendar highlight, the annual Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, ‘The Magic of Bubbles’, presented by Sanlam Private Wealth, takes place on  1 and 2 December.

The iconic Huguenot Monument serves as the  backdrop for the weekend’s festivities, where a wide range of local MCC’s and select French champagnes will be on offer. The grand marquee – the place to be seen – will be oozing style, elegance and sophistication, along with a selection of delectable delights from some of Franschhoek’s world-class eateries. The theme is Black and White, with a prize awarded to the Best Dressed Couple on each day.

 Tickets cost R395 per person and include access to the festival, which is open daily between 12pm and 5pm, a complimentary tasting glass and MCC tasting coupons. Additional vouchers can be purchased on the day. Children under 18 years will be allowed free entry to the festival.

 Book directly through www.webtickets.co.za, but hurry, as tickets are limited. For more information and regular updates visit www.franschhoekmcc.co.za.

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FOURTH EASTERN CAPE WINE SHOW IN PORT ELIZABETH

 

Around 40 exhibitors will pour 200 wines for Eastern Cape winelovers on 30 November and 1 December at The Boardwalk in Summerstrand from 17h00 to 21h00.

Celebrate with scintillating bubbles from Krone, Valdo Prosecco, Pongracz and JC Le Roux.  Sip and swirl award-winning whites from Steenberg Vineyards, Spier, Oldenburg and Fleur du Cap.  Savour  robust reds from Boekenhoutskloof, Raka, Wildekrans and Cape Chamonix.

Introducing Mari’s Handmade Fudge and Brittle and exhibitor Just Biltong will provide delicious wine-complementing fare to snack on..  

Tickets can be bought via Computicket.com and at the door. No entry to under 18s, babies and prams.  Light meals will be sale and wines purchases  facilitated at the Shop@Show stand by local wine retailer Prestons.

Tickets cost R190 at Early Bird prices, valid for sales until 18 November R160.00. The Early Bird option of R200 buys you an entrance ticket and a tapas meal voucher to the value of R60. Visit www.easterncapewineshow.co.za for more information and for list  of exhibitors and wines.

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Fizz & Fudge at Stellenbosch Hills

 

A new taste pairing , buttery handcrafted  fudge with Polkadraai Sparkling Pinot Noir rosé is on the menu, along with their Polkadraai Sauvignon Blanc Brut, matched to chocolate malt fudge for R40 a head. This festive event is available from now until February, but pre-booking is essential. Call 021 881 3828/9 for reservations or

email  info@stellenbosch-hills.co.za

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Fruit picking and leisurely lunches at De Krans

 

 

FromNovember through to February De Krans invites visitors to join in a farm favourite of picking seasonal fruit. From 24 November to 1 December the Bulida apricots will be available to pick at R7.50 per kg. If you prefer peaches best you diarise 15 to 27 December when the Oom Sarel cling peaches will be ready for pickings at R8.00 per kg. Kickstart 2019 with picking  super sweet Hanepoot grapes at R8.50 per kg. All dates are weather dependent, and may change slightly at short notice.  it is advisable to contact the farm prior to your visit, to confirm the picking dates.  De Krans will be open seven days a week from 9am until 4pm for the picking of these fruits, with the exception of Christmas Day.

The De Krans Deli and Bistro at the farm, is home to delicious country cuisine. All the dishes have been paired with wines from the De Krans range, creating the perfect food and wine pairing 

The deli offers visitors a wide selection of only the finest products sourced in and around Calitzdorp and the Klein Karoo. Visitors sit indoors or outside in the shade of the trellised Hanepoot vineyard. There is also a playground for children, making De Krans a place for the whole family.

Among the great wines to be tasted and bought is the flagship Tritonia red blend, just recently awarded gold at Six Nations in Australia,

For more information contact the farm on 044 213 3314, or email at dekrans@mweb.co.za.

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Summer is for Stellenbosch Street Soirees

These take place fromNovember 2018 till March 2019 in the city of oaks presented by the Stellenbosch Wine Routes. The first event is on November 28, presenting cool tunes, sizzling street food and superb wines. Thereafter once a month of a Wednesday in Drostdy Street, each street party will pour different wines and present different fare. Entry costs R100 a head, which includes glass and 12 tasting tokens. The parties takes place from 18h00 – 20h00.  The other dates are

12 December 2018*

16 & 30 January

13 & 27 February

13 & 27 March 2019*

*weather permitting

For more information contact Tel: 021 886 4310, visit www.wineroute.co.za

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Salt of the Earth – the phrase brings to mind a person (or group of people) whose qualities present a model for the rest of us.

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That Groote Post decided to use this phrase as the name of their special blend of shiraz (66%) and Cinsaut (34%) is both interesting and apposite. Produced from the outstanding 2015 harvest, the grapes were sourced from venerable vines in the Darling Hills – 17-year-old shiraz, and 42-year-old dryland bushvine cinsaut.

The wine spent 16 months in French oak, and the result is intriguing, where the shiraz characteristics dominate, - the flavours of red plum, white pepper are there backed by cedarwood - lent benefits by fresh berry notes from the cinsaut. The result is quite intriguing, well balanced with an earthy backbone and 14% alcohol levels.

The special label, designed by Anthony Lane’s consultancy is different from Groote Post’s usual designs, drawing attention to the bottle as consumers have to hunt for the source of the wine.

Already sporting its 91% score from Tim Atkins’ Best of South Africa 2017 report, this wine was released by Groote Post in early spring to the delight of those many winelovers who are seeing more old cinsaut vines coming back into their own, adding their welcome characteristics to more delicious red blends. It sells for R240 from the Groote Post cellar.

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WHOLE – Bowl Food for Balance by Melissa Delport. Published by Struik Lifestyle, 2018.

 

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It’s a whole new way of eating – for Occidentals, that is, while in the East Buddhists (and many others) combine diverse ingredients in bowls to make balanced meals as a matter of course.

Melissa Delport is a Cape Town-based food photographer and blogger. Having learnt to cook at an early age Melissa moved on and after a period of fad dieting discovered her path to health and well- being . Mindful consumption became an integral part of her food philosophy . Wanting to share her culinary knowledge and way of eating with others which formed the germ of this book, her first .

The title stems from Buddha bowls which contain nourishment in the form of grains, vegetables, a healthy fat, a protein and a bunch of greens.

In her introduction Delport discusses her philosophy which can be summed up as 'Eat real food, mostly plants, but not too much'. She aims at reaching umami, or yummy fare using many ingredients, but focussing on the importance of grains, beans and pulses as base food. She urges readers to shop at farmers’ markets, avoid GMO foods and items that are not free-range.

Starting with breakfast fare, there are recipes for bowls ranging from smoothies to oats, from chia seeds to Turkish poached eggs on quinoa with yoghurt and avo, baby spinach, goats cheese and more… Her avo hash has a long list of ingredients, is sustaining enough to take one through to supper

Salad bowls present some appetising combos – fig and goats cheese, salmon and edamame beans, courgettes and salmon, tomato and lentil. Many other ingredients also make the cut, adding spice, flavour, texture, crunch and dressings. Soups present an interesting selection: even in the popular classics like roasted tomato and red pepper she adds her own touch, Good use is made of coconut milk along with vegetable stock.

Bowing to the present trend of resurrecting ancient grains, a colourful collection of salads, poultry and meat one-dish creations feature quinoa, barley, millet, spelt, freekah, brown rice as well as a host of veggies and pulses.

Home bowls are comfort food , robust, several one-pot wonders while others require more time and attention, Oodles of Noodles is self-explanatory, the recipes in this chapter occasionally use wheat noodles, many more are made from other flours and grains. In the chapter on Table Bowls entertaining is the objective, sharing bowls that are made up of side dishes, dips, starters, and snacks. These dinner parties could start with tuna ceviche or guacamole or baba ganoush all served with corn chips. Among the mains you will find pasta and pesto variations, followed by a vegan honey mustard carrot bowl. Drinks are not neglected, and the sparkling lime and pomegranate looks inviting for a summery party.There are a few desserts - think dates with salted caramel truffle and popcorn or apple and pear coconut crumble with coconut ice cream, a vegan finale.

While neither solely vegan nor a vegetarian collection, many of the close to 90 recipes are sans meat, chicken or fish.  All are nourishing, offering healthy and balanced meals in a bowl, several contain a large number of ingredients, and a few will take a fair amount of time. But what Delport has done is to take the guesswork out of bowl food, having spent much time creating dishes that are tasty.

She goes further to promote healing one’s relationship with food, treating your body with respect and nourishing it with fresh food that will leave you energised. All part, she says of finding happiness with food.

Every recipe is illustrated and a detailed index concludes the text.

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Two recently released chenin blancs proved both to be enjoyable, and both fair value for money: one an easy-drinking, unwooded wine priced at R60, the other a more patrician  chenin that has benefitted from eight months in oak, and sells for R125, about double the price. Both, I think, reflect not only the delicious diversity of chenin, but the wide range of prices that chenin commands.

DELHEIM WILD FERMENT CHENIN BLANC 2017

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As the back label tells us, this delicious chenin was produced from venerable dryland vines which accounts for added flavour from small, intense berries. Two vineyard blocks yielded the grapes, Bobbejaan at 15 years old and Ou Jong Steen, at 30 years.

On the nose a mix of stone fruit  aromas leads to the palate where citrus flavours are  discernible.

The wine was matured in oak for some eight months which has added backbone that is well balanced by typical Stellenbosch freshness. Moderate 13,5% alcohol levels are pleasing.

This is a wine that will happily take on Asian-style creations, south-east Asian spicy curries, along with western fare like risottos and complex chicken salads. Get yours from the cellar or leading retailers for R125.

DE KRANS FREE-RUN CHENIN BLANC 2018

A moreish, unpretentious wine that is well-balanced , slips down easily and is bound to draw more consumers to the joys of chenin as a summer tipple.

Already sporting two gold stickers from current contests, it’s a wine that will suit a range of tastes, sells fot R60 and will make a lunchtime appetiser as well as a good partner to chicken braais.

As De Krans increases its range of table wines alongside its award-winning ports and fortified products, consumers have a fine choice to contemplate, from red blends that sometimes contain port varietals to classic wines that Louis van der Riet produces with flair.

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THE ECHO OF A NOISE: a Memoir of Then and Now by Pieter-Dirk Uys. Published by Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2018.

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Is it perhaps because he has reached 70, that his writing – while still witty and pithy – has softened, sharing more of his persona? It took only a couple of chapters before I felt I really knew the little boy living in Pinelands, going to school, desperate to join the others wearing long pants, constantly in a state of skirmish with his unbending father.

 

The role of Sannie Abader, the Cape Malay housekeeper who ruled the Uys kitchen and doubled as a mother and friend to Pieter-Dirk, a situation replicated in so many South African domestic households during the middle of the 20th century.

For someone a few years older, who also grew up in southern suburban Cape Town with live-in maids, politically aware parents who were anti- Nat but fairly conservative followers of De Villiers Graaff, the world was white indeed.

 

This very human slice of his childhood and early career, his first trip to Europe and to Sophia Loren’s house makes enchanting reading. His student years at UCT Drama school and antics outside of it , another trip to Europe then back in Cape Town to work at the Space theatre and spend time annoying the inspectors of the Publications Control Board follows . In 1981 he performed the first of his one-man shows. As he remarks, 35 years later he is still writing, presenting and performing them...

Decades after the death of his parents, he regrets having not asked them more questions, particularly about his mother’s background. Scenarios  like this that resonate with so many of us. Today P-D still churns out so many words using, of course, Windows 10. But always, next to his laptop sits his mother’s portable Underwood typewriter in its battered box, which she brought to South Africa in 1937.

As the back cover of this softback tells us “This is Pieter-Dirk Uys unpowdered. No props, no false eyelashes, no high heels...” Indeed. His first two memoirs, Elections and Erections published in 2002 and Between the Devil and the Deep in 2005 were great reads, but in this title I felt I really got to know something of the complex, talented person that he is, perhaps underlined with vivid memories of a matinee at Evita se Perron one spring weekend last year, where he was as brilliant as ever but looking, I thought, tired.

Does he ever get tired? The text finishes with a short biography followed by a list of his plays, revues, novels, memoirs, cookbooks and documentaries, feature films and television specials. Looking at that impressive list, one concludes that he cannot ever find time to be tired.

Illustrated with a fascinating collection of black and white photographs, ranging from babyhood to the present, a diverse family album that greatly enhances his prose.

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PRACTICAL, PROMISING AND FREE – PICK N PAY’S WINE CLUB’S A WINNER!

 

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“Good wine for real people” is the slogan they are using. Well yes, but it seems there could be several other advantages for consumers who have joined, - or are contemplating joining – the new Pick n Pay Wine Club.

For those who enjoy wine, buy regularly, but have limited funds to spend, membership could offer several benefits. If you are interested in broadening your taste and finding new favourites, this could be a painless way to do so.

Let’s have a quick run-through the way it works: First up, membership is free and it’s easy to join. As a member you will be notified about a monthly selection of wines offered at 20% discount off shelf price for 30 days. The selection is wide, the range seems to include red, white, rosé, bubbly and one bag-in-a-box occasionally. The choice also offers easy-drinking entry-level labels for beginners, along with at least one or two comparatively upmarket products from well-known and popular Cape cellars. During the month, members can buy just one or two of the discounted wines, or more. They can also buy more than once – as many times as they like – to get the discount before the end of the month.

So – if you try a new label or new varietal and it ticks your box you can order more while its discounted and build up your stock. All this can be done online, so its as easy as picking up your smartphone and sending through your order.

If you live in or near one of the major cities, and buy at least 6 wines of your choice, you will enjoy free delivery: the delivery finder at

https://www.pnp.co.za/pnpstorefront/pnp/en/

will pinpoint which areas are served by this convenience. See

the list of cities and suburbs covered.

If, like myself, you live in the countryside, and delivery is not offered, you can collect your discounted wines at any Pick n Pay that stocks wine: the 20% discount will automatically be taken off the club wines at the till when swiping your Smart Shopper card.

 

There is plenty of info available on the website with regard to tasting notes, suggestions for pairing food and your wine, and occasionally there are competitions and events where members are treated to an evening out with great wines, launches, and good company.

Seems like nothing to lose and plenty to gain - and its simple enough to join. Visit www.pnp.co.za/wine-club or simply SMS your Smart Shopper card number to 36775.  

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With a long-established reputation for consistent quality, Stellenbosch Hills cellar continues to uphold this worthy reputation. While it is widely known for well-priced quality, its sauvignon blanc, in particular, has established a fine record for over-delivering on quality.

I am happy to report that the 2018 vintage, a single vineyard wine, upholds the reputation with panache. It’s all that most of us want from a sauvignon blanc – crisp freshness, not over-acidic, enough body to lend it character, a fine meld of green notes with melon, citrus and a little stone fruit coming through. Perfect for casual sunset and weekend get-togethers, on its own or with fish, salad, chicken, and vegetarian meals. Its moderate alcohol levels of R13% are pleasing and its priced at about R50.

The winery recently released a whole range of new vintages, the only other white being the chenin blanc 2018, along with several 2016 reds – pinotage, cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and their popular fortified Muscat de Hambourg. The reds sell for around R80.

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We all know we shoud squirrel away good barrel-fermented whites along with our reds, but we seldom do. Most of don’t keep our fine chardonnays for long enough, just until the next occasion that sees a luxurious seafood feast or a special poultry creation grace the table.

So it's good to know that Whalehaven decided to cellar their Conservation Coast chardonnay for us - leaving the 2014 vintage maturing for more than two years before releasing it. This premium wine was produced from a vineyard of 14-year-old vines in the famed  UpperHemel-en-Aarde region, where Whalehaven is the third-olest winery in the area.

Co-owner Silvana Bottega released the wine recently, and its gorgeous golden hue is the first sign of its maturity, followed by tempting wafts of butterscotch on the nose. This is a rich, full-bodied chardonnay, with a firm mineral backbone, offering lightly toasted crumbs along with citrus flavours. With moderate alcohol levels, it makes an impressive appetiser but comes into its own with celebration fare, either shellfish, rich duck liver paté or complex Middle Eastern chicken dishes.

Bearing stickers from Tim Atkin who scored it 92 and approval from the current Sommeliers Selections results, expect to pay around R360.

The Conservation Coast range also boasts a 2014 Pinot Noir whch I have not tasted.

To find out more about these wines, visit www.whalehaven.co.za

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Marketing is all important when competing in the well-priced segment of South African wines. Overhex Wines International have always come up with interesting labels with a tale to tell and their new range is no exception.

The Mensa range is the first to offer an augmented reality app for smartphones which, when scanned in, brings the story behind the Mensa label to life.

Story-telling, the accompanying maxim – ‘Live a great story’ – and the label (which features everywoman relaxing in a library, its wall lined with books, a glass of wine at her feet) all contribute to appeal both to curious consumers and , I would guess, especially to the female winelover.

This is a range also designed to appeal to book clubs , both visually and price-wise, while the practical Helix cork closure eliminates the need for corkscrews.

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The sauvignpn blanc is fruity and easy-drinking, with alcohol levels of just 12% while the cabernet sauvignon offers a considerably higher level at 14,5% but also slips down easily, its berry flavours backed by a full-bodied character. The trendy chardonnay/.pinot noir comes in at 13% and combines citrus notes with moderate alcohol levels. Whites cost R75 and the red R85 at the Overhex cellar door, are stocked by Checkers countrywide and can be bought online.

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It would be difficult to find a better pair of wines with which to toast the forthcoming Heritage weekend. They tick the boxes for venerable vineyards (44-year-old chenin and cinsaut), are adorned with the Old Vine Project Heritage seal, and are nurtured on an 18th century Wellington farm titled “well-bestowed” whose current owners are nearing completing restoration and refurbishment of both vineyards, olive grove and a beautiful early 19th century farmstead.

But – best of all – is that Gavin and Kelly Brimacombe’s maiden releases, a 2017 chenin blanc and a 2015 Rhone-style red blend are noteworthy, both captivating examples of what the Wellington terroir can – and is - producing.

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The old dryland chenin vines with low-yields of around 2,4 tons per ha, deliver berries with concentrated fruit that presents a sophisticated salad of citrus, summer stone fruit, pineapple and lingering citrus on the nose and palate. Yet it’s restrained and elegant with evident complexity: this was achieved, no doubt by part natural, part yeast-added fermentation, plus one third of the wine then barrel-fermented in French oak before final blending. Its moderate 12,5% alcohol levels will please many local and overseas customers while the bottle sports stickers that are testimony to pleasing scores from judges of the National Wine Challenge and Top 100 SA wines.

Turning to the Welgegund Providence – which also sports silver from Decanter and four stars from Platter, - this blend comprises 60% shiraz, 30% cinsaut with carignan making up the balance. All the vines are dryland, the vintage cinsaut complemented by mature shiraz and carignan, the harvest of eachwhich was separately fermented . The wine spent 16 months in mostly French oak with just 5% in American. The full-bodied result balances spice and dark berry flavours with freshness from the cinsaut, with smooth tannins and a hint of oak. Robust alcohol levels for current trends and on the pricy side at R320 excluding VAT.  Only available from the cellar at present.

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The winemaker is Friedrich Kuhne and Emy Mathews has joined the staff as Sales and Marketing Manager. She is the ideal person to promote the charms of farm and wine, and already her efforts on social media have alerted dozens to the renaissance of Welgegund. The farm is open for tastings by appointment only.

In conclusion, a toast to this maiden duo, and in anticipation of the Cinsaut and Grenache which have just been released and which  I hope to sample soon . 

Wellington always intrigues with its mix of beautiful old farms of renowned Afrikaner families and new and restored ones thanks to an influx of enthusiastic 

British investors and producers. Were they perhaps influenced by the fact that this Boland town bears the name of  their most successful Anglo-Irish military hero, former British statesman and 19th century prime minister?  This intriguing intertwining of heritage adds another dimension to vinous journeys to the magnificent Valley of Wagonmakers.

For more information, visit www.welgegund.co.za

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WILD KAROO by Mitch Reardon, published by Struik Nature, 2018.

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The subtitle offers a good summing-up of this gem of a title: ‘A journey through history, change and revival in an ancient land’. While it hints at the enormous timespan that Reardon encompasses, it does not offer readers the wide range of subject matter that he includes as he travels though our dry heartland. He focuses on nature conservation, game - including birds, reptiles and invertebrates, the unique flora, landscape and geology and the history and lifestyle of the Karoo people. He also shares the plans to combine public and private protected land to create wildlife corridors between isolated parks, re-establishing old migration routes, and in this way helping to reverse some effects of human settlement.

Quite a task for this wildlife writer and photographer and former ranger to embrace, but he does it superbly well. It could be as dry as its parched subject, but Mitch Reardon writes so well that he takes us, his readers, as enthusiastic fellow travellers,aboard his vehicle as he sets out on a 4 000km journey through the high central plateau that constitutes the Karoo. 

After a comprehensive introduction on the vast landmass of the Karoo and a brief history of the various regions he starts his travels at the Bontebok national park in the southern Cape , then moves on to the Langeberg and Little Karoo. As this is where I have lived for nearly two decades, I focussed on this chapter for starters and absorbed so much in the process. From the Grootvadersbosch nature reserve in the Langeberg foothills Reardon moved on through Barrydale to Sanbona Wildlife reserve, a private enterprise that has seen former sheep farms transformed into an ecosystem similar to that of a pristine landscape 300 years back. From the endangered riverine rabbit to the re-introduction of elephant and cheetah the reserve is a five-star experience all around. The little-known Anysberg reserve is next on his itinerary with some fascinating conservation projects and then he heads to the Karoo National park which stars in the following chapter.

Each chapter has added information on the reserves visited, with contact details.

There is a whole chapter on the plight of the springbok, before Reardon heads to the desolate Tankwa Karoo and on to the Cederberg, then north west to Namaqualand and the Great River area, ie the Orange river. He also describes his visit to the Camdeboo area, and the Mountain Zebra national park, The text ends with a bibliography and detailed index.

This is an average-size softback that will slip easily into pockets in cars where it is likely to live after being first digested at home. The colour photos are plentiful and varied, from caterpillars to elephants, from landscapes to close-ups of locals, with some drawings and paintings from early travellers adding to the historic interest. A fine addition to South African and Karoo literature.

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Posted by on in Events

 

The season is nearly upon us and the event calendar is crowding in . At time of writing the focus is on Cape Wine 2018 and I am rooting for Robertson Wine Tourism who are hosting more than 80 overseas visitors at a five-course dinner at The Castle. It will finish, I believe, with a tour of the historic fort, but their guests should be immune from any of the resident ghosts after several glasses of the valley’s fine bubbly, white, red and dessert wines.

In date order:

 

Wine & Fynbos Cupcake pairing

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Taste the Cape floral kingdom for the next month or more in this new pairing from Delheim estate! The four cupcakes in the lineup are: Fynbbos honey paired with Delheim merlot, honeybush cupcake paired with Delheim chardonnay sur lie, buchu cupcake paired with the Gewurztraminer and a rooibos cupcake served with Delheim pinotage. The event costs R120 and bookings are preferred and essential for groups with more than nine. To book email cellardoor@delheim.com

 

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GABRIËLSKLOOF PRESENTS A 'FIRE FOOD' CELEBRATION OF SA HERITAGE FARE

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On Sunday, 23 September 2018 chef Frans Groenewald will light braai fires and serve traditional delicacies with a modern spin at Gabrielskloof farm in the Overberg to mark Heritage and national braai day.Tickets for the Overberg Braai @ Gabriëlskloof are R375pp. To book, call 028 284 9865 or email restaurant@gabrielskloof.co.za

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34th Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction

 

The 2018 events marks the swansong for three founder members, Etienne le Riche, Jan Boland Coetzee and Kevin Arnold. Along with their wines a special collection of crafted wines – 31 reds, 14 whites, two Cap Classiques and one port make the lineup ofr the auction which takes place at the Spier Conference Centre on Saturday, September 29. .Registration for the auction and VIP lounge will close on Wednesday, 19 September. Telephonic and proxy bidding options are available to those who are unable to attend in person. To find out more, visit: www.capewinemakersguild.com, email info@capewinemakersguild.com or call Tel: +27 (0)21 852 0408

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CELEBRATE FARM LIFE AT THE “GROOT PLAASPROE”

 

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Taking place from October 11 – 13 at Sandringham near Stellenbosch. More than 150 stalls offering a farm experience including 300 animals, farm food, and a world class agricultural showcase. Pair your boergoat meat with pinotage or beer, win prizes galore. Time; 8am to 6pm daily. Tickets can be booked through Computicket or buy at the gate. Adults: R100, pensioners R50 on Thursday and Friday and children under six enter free of charge. Contact Agri-Expo on 021 975 4440 or admin@agriexpo.co.za for more info.

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RMB WINEX 2018

 

takes place from October 24 – 26 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Regarded as the country’s must-attend event, this show of 19 years will again wow visitors with an exceptional lineup of premium wine brands. It is open from 17h00 to 21h00 and ticket prices range fror R180 to R295. Early Bird and Couples/ Packages from end September. Book through www.winex.co.za

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Celebrate in Full Bloom at this year’s Protea Party

 

Contemporary design meets understated elegance at the fifth annual Protea Party, which takes place at Anthonij Rupert Estate in Franschhoek, on Saturday 27 October 2018. The theme for the 2018 celebration is “Contemporary Floral”, On arrival guests will be greeted with Protea cocktails. Dinner - a generous three-course, harvest style feast of seasonal winelands produce - will be served at long tables. The full range of Protea wines will be available.

Tickets cost R695 per guest, inclusive of all food, wine and entertainment. The Protea Party begins at 18h00 for 18h30. Pre-booking is essential. For bookings and/or enquiries, please contact Sumarie Elliot on sumarie@rupertwines.com or call 021 874 9019. 

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Cool-climate wines, craft beer and a country fair: Explore the Elim Wine Festival

Once a year – for one day only – the cool-climate wines of the Elim Wine Ward and surrounds gather for the Elim Wine Festival – this year on Saturday November 10 at Black Oystercatcher wine farm. A dozen of the region’s top wineries will showcase their products; these are The Berrio, The Black Oystercatcher Wines, The Giant Periwinkle, Ghost Corner ,Land’s End, Strandveld Vineyards and Zoetendal from the Elim wine ward, wineries from just outside ElimareSijnn Wines from Malgas, Lomond from Cape Agulhas and The Drift, Jean Daneel Wines and Skipskop Wines from Napier.

Artisanal beer and cider are also on the menu, along with delicious local produce at the market stalls – thick smoked trout, local cheeses, charcuterie and sweet treats.

Tickets cost R140 for adults, which includes glass and tastings, and free entry for children under 18. Buy tickets via Webtickets, at the gate on the day, or at selected Picknpay stores. See you there!

For more info, visit: elimwines.co.za Or contact: Jackie Rabe, Marketing Director: Strandveld VineyardsCell. 082 376 8498Email: jackie@strandveld.co.za

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