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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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It is one of the oldest farms in the Durbanville area, but it’s only recently that visitors, diners and winelovers are being invited to discover the joys awaiting them at this venue. Celebrating its long history, Andre and Ronelle Brink, fourth generation family owners, are marking the 320th anniversary of Groot Phesantekraal with the new vintages of their range of wines, along with a renovated tasting room where guests are invited to sniff various spices, herbs and  teas to awaken their senses. Therre’s also a restaurant that occupies a mid-18th century stable, offering fine country fare of breakfast and lunch along with a Saturday brunch.

Having recently tasted some of the wines, it was good to get an update on two of their impressive releases, the 2017 sauvignon blanc and the 2015 cabernet sauvignon.

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To start with the white, Durbanville is renowned for sauvignon blanc and this, made by Etienne Louw (ex-Altydgedacht) is as good as it gets, confirmed by its being placed in the Top 10 of the 2017 FNB Sauvignon Blanc awards and sporting a double gold from Veritas 2017.  Made from vines just a decade old, the nose offers some passion fruit and other tropical flavours with citrus and green notes being added to the fruit on the palate. But there’s also a welcome crispness without searing acidity and an  elegance with faint whiffs of the Durbanville dustiness lingering at length. Alcohol levels at 14% are a little higher than current trends dictate, but this is a wine that many sauvignon fans of all ages will sip with delight. The selling price of R72 is very reasonable for quality of this class.

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Cabernet sauvignon is not Durbanville’s  signature cultivar but the region’s winemakers produce some fine examples, and this wine, from the brilliant 2015 vintage, can comfortably  compete with its regional cousins.  Its a rich medium-bodied cab, with an agreeable freshness accompanying the berry and minty flavours, alongside a hint of the trademark Durbanville dustiness. Soft tannins mean that the wine is accessible now , but it’s sure to improve with age. Those opening it now should let it breathe for an hour or two in a decanter before pouring. It sports a gold from last year’s Michelangelo contest and sells for R100.

The rest of the range consists of a Cap Classique, a chenin blanc, and a wooded chenin named after Anna de Koning, wife of the farm’s first owner. The flagship red is the 2016 pinotage Berliet.

Call 021 825 0060 for more info or visit www.grootphesantekraal.co.za. The tasting room and restaurant are closed on Sunday and Monday.

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Posted by on in Reviews

 

 

     

A SHORT HISTORY OF MOZAMBIQUE by Malyn Newitt, published by Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2018.

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To start with the author, who has penned more than 20 books on Portugal and its colonial history, Newitt is one of the leading historians on the former colony and now independent Mozambique.  Now retired, he was deputy Vice Chancellor of  Exeter university and – given his background - one expects his latest title to be academic in tone and content. It is, but the text is  very readable, and not bristling with footnotes which can be so intrusive.   This is a book  that is  not only for academics, but for all involved in any capacity with Mozambique’s government and those doing business in that country.

And -  for those who head to its ocean shores for unique wild and wonderful  holidays  - you, too,  may enjoy exploring the background to the transition from Portuguese colony to independent country.The boundaries of modern Mozambique were drawn in 1891, giving a territory that is 309 000 sq miles in extent (compared with Portugal’s 35,560 sq miles! Its long coastline gives way to a low-lying hinterland leading to a plateau, and on to the high mountains on its borders with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Drought and famine punctuate its history and have much influenced its development, while serious floods did much to displace people and kill their cattle. Much of the lowlands are infested with tsetse fly, preventing communities from farming with cattle,

The monsoon winds not only  bring rain but link the coastal communities with ports of the Red Sea, the Hadramaut, the Gulf, India and the islands of Comoro and Madagascar.  Dhows visited the coast to trade for Central African gold and cargoes of skins, turtle shell, ivory, mangrove poles and slaves. The Portuguese started coastal settlements at the start of the 16th century and for some 300 years a pattern of life was established: ivory and gold traded through Islamic middlemen in return for imported cloth, beads and metal ware.

In the 19th century a series of droughts caused major conflict and migrations and fed the slave trade until it was abolished in Britain and Europe. However the slave trade continued largely serving markets inside Africa. The rising demand for labour in South Africa led to the slave trade of the south evolving into export of contract labour.

The  Boers, moving away from British occupation in the Cape, founded ad hoc republics in the north of South Africa , with Delagoa Bay as  their nearest sea port for the recently discovered gold and diamonds .

Frontiers drawn in 1891 gave Portugal control of British Central Africa’s access to its ports and routes for roads and railways. The country was ill-equipped to deal with the governing such a vast territory. Many Portuguese emigrated both from Portugal and its islands to Brazil but once the railwas line from the Rand to Lourenco Marques was built things improved and the city expanded rapidly .

In 1930 Antonio Salazar, now in power in  Lisbon, overhauled colonial policy and this was followed by the Great depression . Cotton and rice became major crops, supplying Portugal and receiving imported goods in return. Portugal remained neutral during the second World War after which Mozambique benefited from infrastructure projects and basic education policies while whites were encouraged to leave their home country and settle in rural subsidised settlements.

The first modern movements seeking independence for Mozambique started  among exiles livingsin Tanzania, Malawi and Rhodesia. Frelimo was formed for the liberation of Mozambique in 1962. In 1970 Samora Machel became president of Frelimo and while the Portuguese army seemed at first to be successful in clearing Frelimo bases a military coup in Lisbon in 1974 overthrew the regime and the guerrilla forces had won by convincing officers that war that could not be won was pointless.

 Subsequent events are  within memory of many adults today, Divisions in politics split along regional rather than ethnic lines. Cashew nuts became the most valuable export. But after independence up to 90 %  of the population of European origin as well as many skilled Africans and Asians left the country causing a severe skills shortage. Frelimo took over and Samora Machel became first president in June 1975.The economy came to a virtual halt. Economic policies based on Eastern Bloc practices were introduced to counteract this, but instead the country slipped into a violent and destructive civil war which lasted until 1992. Machel was killed in an air crash in South Africa in 1986 and it was widely suspected that the South African military was to blame.

The final two chapters focus on the complicated politics  post 1992 and the economy and society since 1994. That there is, according to the author, an increase in communal ceremonies connected with ancestors and bringing of rain not only in rural areas but also in towns. Some years ago there were reports of trafficking in body parts – whether or not for traditional medicine -  but just as these occur regularly in South Africa, they are not likely to surprise South African readers.

Illustrations are limited to a handful of black and white photographs. A comprehensive list of titles suggested for further reading  and a fairly detailed index complete the text.

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Posted by on in Restaurants

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Given how rapidly the upper half of Franschhoek is changing, it is as well that we get a quarterly newsletter from  Nicolette Waterford to keep us up to date. As autumn gives way to winter and the number of upcountry and international visitors diminishes, the time is ripe for locals to reclaim the village and its many culinary and vinous attractions. We are also more likely to find place to park and contemplate the magnificent scenery at our leisure, can overnight in luxurious comfort and wander down the main road the next morning, as aromas of croissants baking drift on the crisp air.

Thanks to the Leeu Collection guests can take their tastebuds a lot further than local and Gallic fare: Tuk Tuk – the popular watering hole for tailor-made brews - has just launched a new menu at its Taqueria, consisting of small snack items which make ideal accompaniments to the beers produced at the Microbrewery, unique to Franschhoek. The snack fare consists of chimichangas and croquettes while the taco selection – think corn fajitas, game fish tostadas, burritos and chicken burger – will appeal to carnivores and vegetarians alike. There is also an irresistible dessert choice based on classic Mexican and Tex-Mex favourites. Enjoy all this seven days a week from 11am onwards.

There is also a special offer of accommodation at Leeu House and the magnificent estate hotel for families staying a minimum of two nights, that is valid from now for a whole year, with exception of the period Christmas to end of February 2019. This could make a breakaway for adults and children as memorable as any destination across the planet. And that’s a personal recommendation!

For more info, see www.leeucollection.com

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Posted by on in Events

 

 

Mid-April and on to  May and there is  no letup in the number of wine and food affairs on farms – the tempting invitations below came in after the earlier blog on April-May events was posted.

GlenWood’s Fine Wine and Food Experience

 

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Because its tucked away off a road less travelled, there are winelovers who yet have to unearth the charms of GlenWood and its scintillating shiraz and memorable chardonnays.

Well, now there is a further reason to make a date with this charming cellar as they have added a wine and food experience to their attractions that is not to to be missed. And this is not limited to any one month, but on offer for the foreseeable future.

The tasting room serves a palette of delicious canapés each of which is paired with one of their six award-winning wines. Guests are then invited to choose their main course for lunch from one of the pairings.most enjoyed.

The experience costs R395 and bookings are essential. The offer is open all week except for Wednesdays. Only 20 diners can be accommodated.

  

For more information contact the Tasting Room on 021 876 2044 or email tastingroom@glenwoodvineyards.co.za.

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ELGIN COOL WINE & COUNTRY FESTIVAL – PAUL CLUVER ACTIVITIES

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The picturesque Elgin Wine Valley will be a hive of activities during the festival weekend of 28 and 29 April, and the team at Paul Cluver is presenting a SALT Food & Wine Pairing lunch, available on both festival days.

Chefs Bea du Toit, Craig Cormack and Medhell Span will serve a delectable four-course meal, with Paul Cluver fine wines, and exotic salts from around the globe. Cellarmaster Andries Burger will also be there to add his expertise to the lineup.

The inclusive cost is R600 and booking is essential as only 30 places are available each day.For more info or to book your seat email saltatpaulcluver@gmail.com or phone 028 844 0012.

Tickets to the Elgin festival cost R150 a head which includes glass anad tastings at the participating farms.Golden tickets cost R200 giving access to special tastings. See

https://ecwcf.winesofelgin.co.za/index.php?page=cost-and-bookings for more info.

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Usana Farm Feast

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The weekend of May 12 – 13 sees this event take place at the farm on the Klein Welmoed road outside Stellenbosch. Usana offers an authentic farm experience where fine wines, delicious fare, and live music combine to please all ages. Farm animals may join the scene on the lawns, and other entertainment for children is also on the programme. Tickets cost R250 a head which includes the farm lunch from food stations and wine tastings. Children between 7 and 13 pay R80.

Book through www.webtickets.co.za to avoid disappointment. Email info@ussana.co.za for more info.

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CAB FRANC CARNIVAL BRINGS A TREASURY OF THESE TRENDY REDS TOGETHER

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On Saturday, 19 May the place to be is Avontuur estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. From 11am until 4pm the Carnival will be swinging as no less than 19 cellars will be pouring their cab francs, their cab franc rosés and their cab franc blends for visitors. Along with tastings the wines will be on sale, and there is an unique opportunity to join one of three inter-active tutored tastings of the 2018 Cab Franc challenge Top 6 wines presented by CWM Christine Rudman. The cost is R100.

Also on the menu are food trucks, lawn games, background music and delicious dining options in the Avonturur restaurant.

Tickets cost r220 online and R250 at the gates, and includes tastings, a R50 discount coupon for food and tasting glass. Book through www.plankton.mobi.

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Posted by on in News

 

You can only get it from the Perdeberg cellar, and it will be a journey well-rewarded.

 

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Once again I am astounded at the ability of this giant cellar to continue to produce, year after year, chenins of impressive quality - alongside an extraordinary lineup that ranges from chenins easy-drinking and distinguished, sparkling, dessert and in blends to some prized reds in their dryland collection. And the list goes on and on. The cellar takes in some 18 000 tons annually, which would daunt most cellarmasters but this operation, now marking its 77th anniversary, seems to thrive on coping with such quantities.

Now, they have launched a maiden vintage of another dryland chenin: It’s name, Endura refers to the source, a single vineyard, for its ability to continue bearing small, flavourful grapes year after year. And the wine is a fine reflection of its provenance which is a mature vineyard sited at the peak of the Paardeberg , that fascinating lone mountain and home to terroir that yields wines of distinction on all of its slopes.

The nose offers a good promise of what’s to come, presenting both stone fruit and citrus aromas. These flavours are there on the palate, too, in a rich, full-bodied wine that is nicely balanced with both freshness and a good core of minerality. Alcohol levels are held at just under 14%. It’s delicious both on its own and with autumn favourites like poultry dishes with peaches or citrus, mild curries, butternut-filled ravioli with brown butter, rich risottos, North African tagines and some South-East Asian dishes. So, its versatile as well as offering value for money at R200. If you haven’t been to the cellar for a while, you will find several new facilities and attractions that were completed last year.

 

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Posted by on in Blog

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How interesting. The back label of this polished, elegant and most inviting white blend defines ‘Revenant’ as “one that returns after death or a long absence.” Hmm. My trusty (and admittedly old) Cassell’s French -English dictionary lists the word as meaning “pleasing, prepossessing, charming or a ghost”. Well - leaving aside the spooky one - all these definitions apply to Revenant from False Bay Vineyard rather well.

This is another delicious wine from cellarmaster Nadia Barnard - who has helped make the False Bay range a firm and affordable favourite – this time a classic blend that mirrors the first white wine made by owner Paul Boutinot in France back in 1984. The blend of sauvignon blanc and chenin blanc brought fame to the Loire, but went out of fashion as the world turned to single cultivar wines. A decade later Boutinot established False Bay Vineyards in the Helderberg, followed by the renowned biodynamic Waterkloof 10 years on.

It is well known that our top white blends are among the finest wines to flow from Cape cellars, and Revenant can join them with pride, and, given the retail price of less than R100, comes in at considerably less than some of its competitors . As with other products from this cellar, it is made in the traditional way, with minimal intervention, maturing in old wood and concrete eggs, being left for 10 months on lees.

Comprising 80% sauvignon and the remainder chenin blanc , most of the grapes were sourced from Waterkloof’s own vineyards, some of which having reached 35 years in age. This has lent both personality and depth to the wine, which is quietly assertive and beautifully balanced, offering subtle fruity elegance with moderate alcohol levels. It will make a fine companion for a wide range of sophisticated fare, both Gallic and international gourmet but is also a delightful aperitif to sip while savouring spectacular autumn sunsets.

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Posted by on in Blog

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I found both these Garden Route wines very charming – partly because they seem to tick all my boxes and perhaps because they encapsulate so many features that the majority of winelovers look for – from palate to purse to provenance.

As a wine writer I also appreciated a press release that that was both compact and well-written and happily sans endless pages of indulgent hyperbole and meaningless high falutin phrases.

Boets Nel, MD of the hospitable cellar of De Krans in Calitzdorp bought sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes from the Waboomskraal valley in the foothills of the Outeniqua range. They reached his cellar within an hour of harvesting, where highly competent winemaker Louis van der Riet made this complementary pair over the next several months.The berries were slow -ripening and intensely flavoured for both cultivars, we are told – and this is certainly borne out by the end products.

The Garden Route sauvignon blanc 2017 presents both verdant and tropical fruit aromas, which are followed on the palate by green notes and some passion fruit. While crisp, there is a pleasing lack of searing acidity, while more than a hint of flint adds structure. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% complete a well-balanced, appealing summer wine that is adorned with four-star Platter and Vitis Vinifera stickers and costs R70.

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Turning to the 2016 Garden Route pinot noir, its fairly pale hue forecasts the lighter, prevalent style in which its made, The wine is packed with berried fruit along with the characteristic savory character, the tannins are soft and smooth but a year in French oak has added backbone to add  appeal.

Slips down nicely on its own, but is equally happy to accompany red and white meat, meaty fish and – as always – mushrooms. Selling at R110, this wine also boasts a four-star rating and gold from Vitis Vinifera 2017.

Both wines are available only from De Krans cellar or online through www.dekrans.co.za. For more info, email dekrans@mweb.co.za or call 044 213 3314.

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Posted by on in Events

 

A diverse, delicious and plentiful choice awaits winelovers and gourmets who relish autumn affairs in the Cape winelands and exhiliarating events in Gauteng. The list is in date order.


Friday Live Music is a new event at the beautiful Bellevue estate on the Bottelary road, which is likely to become a regular feature. Entry is free to this sunset gathering on the lawn and in the revamped restaurant on Friday April 6

where live entertainment will accompany your wine and supper. Relax to classics from artists like Elton John, Toto, Fleetwood Mac and others. Booking is essential, email info@bellevue.co.za or call 021 8652054.

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.Celebrate the restoration of the historic Druk My Niet wine estate on Saturday, April 7 . All signs of the devastating fire which all but destroyed the farm near Paarl early last year have been eradicated as the tasting room and cellar re-open their doors to visitors again. To mark the occasion a family day will see a spit braai, German sausages, artisanal pizzas, craft beer and Gluhwein on the menu, along with their estate wines. Great prizes to be won as well and entrance is free. For more info, email carlien@dmnwines.co.za or call 021 868 2393.

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Irresistible pairings

 

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Mid-April and the time is ripe for a heritage fest featuring two of South Africa’s iconic favourites, Pinotage and Biltong. It takes place this year at the hospitable Perdeberg Cellar over the weekend of April 14 – 15 from 11am to 5pm. Live music, gourmet eats combine with close to 50 Pinotages from 18 wineries for tasting and buying, some of which are paired with special biltongs. Pinotages come as trad red, white, (yes!) rosé, bubbly and blends.

More on offer including craft beer, and children’s play area. Tickets cost R200 through www.plankton.mobi or www.computicket.com or R230 at the gate, giving you access, glass and 18 Pinotage and Biltong pairings. For more info and directions, visit www.cvomarketing.co.za

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Bid for the rare and unusual at Bot River Barrels & Beards

Annual auction

 

The date to diarise is Saturday 21 April 2018 when the Barrels & Beards Best of Bot auction takes place at Wildekrans estate at 5pm. Wine farms taking part have assembled lots both zany and serious, unusual and rare, to help raise funds for the Bot River Education Foundation. Tickets cost R450 for adults and can be obtained through www.quicket.co.za. For info contact Ilze Hendrson on 028 2849488 or email ilze@endlessgroup.co.za.

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CHEESE GALORE AND SO MUCH MORE!

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The 17th popular event takes place over the long weekend of Friday April 27 – Sunday 29 at Sandringham near Stellenbosch. Along with local and international cheese, there is a huge range of artisanal and gourmet products and selected wines to wash them down.

Celebrity chefs will cook up a storm in three food theatres, finalist amateur chefs will be cooking their water-wise recipes with cheese for a cook-off over the weekend, and prizes will be awarded to winners in the Ladismith cheese-carving competition.

Cheese connoisseurs can book for the exclusive Connoisseurs’ Experience for a gourmet day with luxurious treatment at R850.

As always, no tickets are sold at the gates. Book at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers stores. Tickets cost R180, senior citizens pay R120 and children under 14 pay R20. For more info visit www.cheesefestival.co.za, or email admin@agriexpo.co.za or call 021 9754440.

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DON’T MISS GROOTE POST’S LAST COUNTRY MARKET OF THE SEASON

 

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This takes place on Sunday April 29 between 10am and 3pm. As before, the terraces will brim with market stalls packed with delicious offerings of artisan fare, arts and crafts, homeware, decor and gifts. Darling gourmet produce from bread to olives oil, preserves and craft beer will join forces with Groote Post’s well-loved wines.

Music, family activites, outdoor darts, tractor rides and more are on the menu, and the estate's restaurant Hilda’s Kitchen will also be open, booking essential. Pets are welcome, but only on a leash. Entry to market is free of charge.

For more info contact Eldre Strydom on 022 4512202 or email eldre@iloveyzer.co.za

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Take a trip on the wild side with Delheim Mushroom Forage Pop Up

 

 

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The drought notwithstanding, it’s hoped that the wild mushrooms will again appear in the forest at Delheim estate outside Stellenbosch, any time from now. Funghi fans are invited to learn how to forage and cook wild mushrooms – first they need to become members of Delheim’s get- up- and- go Wine Club. To join an order of 12 Delheim wines is required.

There will be two excursions, both of which include a short presentation about mushrooms to find and to avoid, a foraging expedition with a guide, a cooking demo and a fungi-focussed lunch with wine.

The first will take place in April or May, depending on the first rains, and be limited to 4 plus their partners. The second will take place in June or July, but exact dates will only be confirmed two days in advance.

Inquiries and bookings to wineclub@delheim.com.

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WINE MENU'S CHARDONNAY & PINOT NOIR FESTIVAL IS BACK!
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Gauteng winelovers will be pleased to know that Wine Menu's popular Chardonnay & Pinot Noir Festival returns for the seventh time and takes place in the Killarney Country Club’s Crystal Room on Thursday, May 10, from 18h00 to 21h00.

Tickets are limited and cost R250 a head, which includes tasting glass and light snacks. These Burgundian varietals are often omitted from wine festivals because of price and limited production. As can be seen from the participating cellars, the wines are aristocrats in their field: Among the producers are Ataraxia, Vondeling, Lothian, Groot Constantia, Glenelly, Springfield, Bouchard Finlayson and Domaine Des Dieux. Wines will be on sale, often at lower than retail prices and others not generally available. Booking is essential. Book through www.webtickets.co.za or from Wine Menu in the BluBird Shopping Centre, Illovo.

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The Bubbly Festival Pops Up in Hyde Park
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The Bubbly Festival – Joburg’s celebration of South Africa’s finest Cap Classiques as well as others from around the world including Champagne takes place in Hyde Park from Friday May 18 to Sunday May 20.
 
Bubbly aficionados, epicureans and those who love the good things in life can spend the weekend popping corks, filling flutes and sipping some of the best sparkles around while snacking on fine foods and listening to live music.

 
The Bubbly Festival will be held at The Park House of Events on 7, which is located in the Hyde Park Shopping Centre (in the space previously occupied by the Imax theatre), and will feature some of South Africa’s finest Methodé Cap Classiques as well as some French Champagnes.
 
To add to the occasion there will also be a selection of fabulous foods as well as live music – details of which will be announced closer to the date.
 
Tickets cost R380 per person and include a glass and 10 tasting tickets. Bookings can be made via
www.webtickets.co.za or at the door on the day. Bubbly by the glass and bottle as well as food will be for sale.
 
Details:
 
Friday, May 18, 2018, from 17h00 to 21h00;
Saturday, March 19, 2018, from 11h00 to 15h00 and 17h00 to 21h00
Sunday, May 20, 2018 from 11h00 to 15h00.
Venue: The Park House of Events on 7 at Hyde Park Corner

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Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival 2018 at Anthonij Rupert Wyne

 

Save the date for this year’s Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival, which takes place once again at the picturesque Anthonij Rupert Wyne on Saturday, 26 May (11am to 4pm). 

This is the perfect opportunity to taste Anthonij Rupert Wyne’s range of Shiraz wines and they will be joined by 18of the country’s top Shiraz producing estates, which include Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Mullineux Wines, Rickety Bridge Winery, Stark-Condé Wines and Hartenberg Wine Estate..

 Pair them with the wide range of local and international charcuterie on offer - featuring everything from salamis and cured hams to flavoured chorizos A bountiful Anthonij Rupert Wyne Harvest Table, adorned with fresh seasonal salads, homemade exotic mushroom and fontina arancini and olives, pickles and chillies - will complement the tasty line-up. The Macaroon Bar, featuring decadent sensations such as Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cherry and Milk Tart guarantees a perfectly sweet finish.

Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Your tickets, which cost R280 per person, includes entry as well as tastings of the wines on show and samples of charcuterie. Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za.

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BRUNCH ACROSS 11 COUNTRIES: Recipes of a private chef by Alix Verrips, published by Human & Rousseau, 2018.

 

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With Easter round the corner and other autumn long weekends to savour, brunch comes to mind as the perfect meal . Whether on a country excursion, lazing at home, or entertaining friends and family, there’s no better time to combine breakfast and lunch into a long, langorous and relaxed meal, preferably relished outdoors.

All of which makes this new title from local publisher Human & Rousseau both timely and inspirational. Alix Verrips is an adventurous chef who now enjoys life in Knysna, raising money for children’s charities. But she has amassed a wealth of global gastronomic experience of the most delicious kind during her 15 years as chef on luxury yachts. Having cooked for celebrities, royals, rock stars, ambassadors, statesmen and politicians on the world’s largest yachts from Alaska to Australia, she presents readers with a treasury of recipes that evoke memories of cultures and countries. Special occasions and exotic ports called for fare that contribute to irresistible brunch menus.

American Independence day calls for red, white and blue parfaits and beef sliders with blue cheese followed by a berry-filled pie, all accompanied by a seriously super-charged Bloody Mary. By way of contrast, a pheasant shooting party in the British shires features bubble and squeak, toad-in-the-hole, kedgeree and currant scones. Add spice to your brunch with a Bahamian feast, starring a colourful spread of chicken souse, sweet potato fish cakes sauced with Creole aioli and chicken and sweetcorn congee.. Chinese New Year in Sydney harbour, the Monaco Grand Pri,. a Greek Isle cruise and a stay in Capri have all produced menus that are mouthwatering and recipes that I intend to try. Other exotic fare was inspired by time spent in the Emirates, Mexico and Mallorca, while the home country is celebrated with a brunch in the bush. All those longing for that nostalgic experience of a portable feast after an early morning game safari can cook up bobotie cups, biltong, mielie and cheese muffins and malva pudding cupcakes with salted caramel sauce, washed down with gin-spiked rooibos and naartjie iced tea.

Beautifully illustrated with plenty of tempting food photographs, this is a collection that will not collect dust on the kitchen shelf.

 

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The arrival of a new vintage of Bouchard Finlayson's Blanc de Mer  is always a pleasure to contemplate. This hugely popular white blend, an annual delight is fairly unique in that it is Riesling-led and usually contains five other white cultivars. As in previous vintages  Riesling predominates with 60% in the 2017, the remaining mélange being 20% Viognier, 13% Chardonnay and 5% Sauvignon Blanc, finished with 2% Semillon.

The bouquet is delicate and flowery, but on the palate there’s both a firm foundation thanks to the personality of Riesling, along with a mix of stone and autumn fruits. A creaminess adds another delicious aspect to this crisp fresh well balanced combo that makes both a charming aperitif as well as a joyful companion to seafood and late summer salads.

All grapes are sourced from the cool South Coast region, where Bouchard Finlayson is beautifully sited in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley . Alcohol levels of 13% are moderate sand the 2017 is fine proof of  consistent quality .

Peter Finlayson has been producing this popular Cape white for many years, and Chris Albrecht has been working alongside him for the last seven years. Now Chris has been appointed winemaker, heading production since the 2017 harvest. Prior to joining Bouchard Finlayson Albrecht gained experience in cellars in New Zealand, France, and back in South Africa spent our years making the wine at Topiary in Franschhoek. The Blanc de Mer is in safe and talented hands.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Carrol-Boyes-Rose_large-2.jpgWine, art and design meld seamlessly in the Carrol Boyes portfolio. It seems  fortuitous  that this renowned designer of fine functional art has a brother – John Boyes – who is not only a farmer but whose partner and friend Neels Barnardt is a wine industry veteran. It must have been a natural progression to introduce wines to complement and enhance the lifestyle products. Winemaker Hendrik Snyman is responsible for the wines in the  Sketchbook Collection, a range of six Intriguing limited edition wines, consisting of  a rosé,  chardonnay, chenin blanc ,cabernet sauvignon, merlot and red blend ( an imported champagne  provides the bubbles). Vintages range from 2014 to 2016, with the bubbly a Gallic museum edition at 2006.

Chenin blanc and rosé were the duo I sampled, both 2016 vintages, and both presenting sensible 13% alcohol levels.

The Sketchbook rosé is an all-cinsaut affair produced from dryland Swartland grapes. Its attractive smoked salmon tint well suits the characterful wine that offers a dry briskness more assertive than most easy-drinking pinks. This is a rosé with attitude, not content just to offer a berry salad but cinsaut backbone in an autumn appetiser. It will also happily complement complex salads featuring seafood or poultry or partner a gourmet picnic with panache.

As with all the Sketchbook wines, Carrol Boyes designed the label, this one featuring her chosen model with a pink gloved hand, beckoning to be unscrewed.... It sells for R90.

To the chenin blanc, which, sadly does not offer a screwcap, but it's well worth hauling out the corkscrew. Like the rosé, bottle age has no doubt benefitted this wine, produced from dryland grapes in the Darling area. Left on the lees for three months before bottling, the press release states that no portion was wooded while Cathy van Zyl’s comment in Platter 2018 refers to a “well-handled 20% oaked portion.” This is a complex chenin, good structure alongside agreeable freshness to complement flavours of stone fruit . (I don’t detect the explosion of green apple mentioned in the press release.) If asked, I would have guessed that some wood was used to add depth to this chenin adorned with our lady, this time green-gloved, who seems to be contemplating the issue. It sells for R130.

The wines are available online and at the Carrol Boyes Waterfront store at the Waterfront. For more, see www.carrolboyeswines.com.

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As South Africans discover there is more to white wine than Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin and Chardonnay, the joys of Riesling are unearthed. Once savoured, many become lifelong fans, eschewing chenin’s fruity charms and chardonnay’s complexity for the delicate crispness of a Riesling, its flintiness offset – sometimes – by whiffs of kerosene alongside the acid/sweet balance.

 

Found mostly in cool climate regions like Elgin and Constantia, the grape only occupies 0,16% of our vineyards, and it is from the cool areas that the Riesling stars usually flow

 

The Paul Cluver Estate Riesling 2017 presents no trace of petrol, a characteristic probably disliked by many - which could be why cellarmaster Andries Burger works to omit it. But the typical Riesling waxy notes are both on the nose, and present on the palate, which is delicate, crisp, with flint and sweetness in elegant balance. With alcohol levels at a pleasing 10,5%, this is a wine that could complement several courses of a high summer lunch from crisp squid with green apple alioli to duck with fennel salad. Rieslings are   such  companionable wines for a wide range of fare.

The press release does not reveal the age of the vines, but I would hazard a guess that they are fairly mature. Paul Cluver has long been renowned for their beautiful Rieslings and this is one that will endorse the status.

It sells for R100 from the farm’s tasting room and can be bought online at https://www.shop.cluver.com/buy/wine.

 

The estate has also released its first Noble Late Harvest in three years, which is the second of two styles of Riesling being made at the cellar. Not having tasted it, I cannot comment but previous vintages have been very highly rated.

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Harvest fun, eastern wine show, cheese fest and more as the advent of autumn heralds mellow days and cool nights. The events are in date order.

 

Eikendal’s annual Weintaufe Harvest Carnival

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This popular one-day family fest takes place on Sunday March 4 with plenty of action alongside great wine, pop-up food stalls and live music. Grape stomping, performing artists, a visit by cheetahs, tractor rides and golf challenges are all on the menu. The annual baptism of the new Chardonnay at 12 noon will precede tastings from the barrel and cellarmaster Nico Grobler will do the honours.

Plenty of entertainment for children too, so parents can relax. Tickets cost R120, available at the gates, and under 18s go in free. Gates open at 10am .

For more info contact the estate on 021 855 1422 or email marketing@eikendal.co.za

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CALLING WINELOVERS FROM SA's NORTH-EASTERN REGIONS

The ninth FNB Mpumalanga Wine Show takes place at Emnotweni on March 8 and 9 . Around 200 great wines from top Cape producers will see guests connect with the winemakers  and sample a stellar collection of bubbles, red, white and rose wines.

Visitors can stock up their favourite wines at show prices through the Shop@Show facility. Tickets at the door and from Computicket.com.

Details:

Venue: Emnotweni Riverside Park Mbombela (Nelspruit)

Time: 17h00 – 21h00

Price: R180 on Thur and R200 on Friday

Queries: tel 011 482 593

Website: ww.mpumalangawineshow.co.za

 

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MURATIE HARVEST FESTIVAL

Saturday 10th March 2018

 

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The Melck family will be host their annual Harvest Festival at Muratie Estate in Stellenbosch on Saturday 10th March 2018 under the venerable oaks on this most historic of Stellenbosch wine estates. Visitors will enjoy welcoming drinks then can stomp grapes, go on tractor rides or sit and sip the Muratie wines. There’s a long alfresco lunch from the Farm Kitchen to savour, and live music from the Kitchen Jammin Blues band

Entrance tickets cost R100, tastings are charged at special festival prices. To book and for more info contact Jean-Mari reyneke at 021 865 2330 or email taste@muratie.co.za.

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ANTHONIJ RUPERT GRAPE-INSPIRED LUNCH

The terrace at the estate Tasting Room will make the venue for an appetising three-course harvest lunch throughout the day on Saturday March 24. After a welcome glass of L’Ormarins Blanc de Blancs 2012 guests will enjoy the brilliant Cape of Good Hope wines with their meal. The menu incorporates elements of the grape, such as verjuice, raisins and vine leaves.

The cost of R550 a head includes food, wines and gratuity. To book call 021 874 9074 or email tasting@rupertwines.com

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Pizza & Wine Festival | 21 & 22 April 2018

 

Vergenoegd estate makes the venue for a Pizza & Wine fest over the weekend of April 21 – 22, from 11am – 4pm. Live music and superb wines will accompany the pizzas, while parents  relax while children are entertained with fun activities. Producers will pour a selection of fine wines and guests can purchase their choice to take home.

Tickets cost R180 for adults and R60 for children which includes tasting glass and five tasting coupons. Also on offer are VIP tickets at R300 which allow unlimited offerings of the Runner Duck range and exclusive seating area.

Book directly via www.webtickets.co.za to avoid disappointment as tickets are limited.

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2018 Barrels & Beards day at Bot River.

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The date to diarise is Saturday April 21 when the end of harvest is celebrated at the Bot River wineries, this year focussing on a Taurean theme of the bull.

The participating farms are:

1.         Anysbos

2.         Barton

3.         Beaumont

4.         Arcangeli

5.         Eerste Hoop

6.         Gabriëlskloof

7.         Luddite

8.         Genevieve

9.         Goedvertrouw

10.        Thorne & Daughters

11.        Momento

12.        Maremmana

13.        Paardenkloof

14.        Rivendell

15.        Wildekrans

Proceeds from the auction of Bot River wines benefit various educational projects in the region. The dinner will showcase local produce and specialities.

The annual Beard-off contest sees judges deciding on which winemaker is voted owner of the year’s Best Bot Beard.

The festival venue is Wildekrans Estate, starting at 5pm. Tickets cost R450 for adults.

Online tickets obtainable through www.quicket.co.za. For enquiries and pre-bookings contact Ilse Henderson at Wildekrans Wine Estate at 028 284 9488 or email ilze@endlessgroup.co.za.

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SA CHEESE FESTIVAL IS WATER WISE

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Agri-Expo has announced that the 2018 SA Cheese Festival, taking place over the Freedom Day long weekend from April 27 – 29 at the usual venue, Sandringham, off the N1 will be a water-wise event.

In response to Wesgro’s call to keep the Western Cape economy growing and create jobs, Agri-Expo has consulted roleplayers to find ways to minimise impact on water resources, by removing the festival from the water grid. Temporary chemical toilets, borehole water, drinking water from non-drought areas, waterless recipes for cooking demos are some of the items that visitors will find.

Tickets are available at Computicket (online and in Shoprite and Checkers stores) at R180 per person per day. Senior citizens pay R120 and children from 2 to 13 years pay R20. No tickets will be sold at the gates.

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 A decade of vinous generosity and a centenary of caring.

 

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One hundred years on we look back at 1918 with compassion. Europe, Britain and Commonwealth countries were still reeling from the aftermath of World War One as the Great ‘Flu pandemic swept across the globe, arriving in South Africa in September, and claiming some 140 000 lives over the next two years.

 

In the wine industry the establishment of the KWV was probably the event of note, while across the winelands, many small towns were left with destitute orphans in the wake of the ‘flu . Robertson – then a small farming town of about 3 500 inhabitants - was no exception….

A home,  Die Herberg, was started in a private house, and, as the number of children increased,  moved to new quarters  when the municipality donated several hectares to the cause. A neglected apricot orchard occupied much of the site.

 

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A century has passed and today Die Herberg cares for just over 120 children of all races, from birth to 18 years of age, in seven homesteads. State grants cover one-third of the costs  so fund-raising is essential and ongoing . In 2003 stone fruit prices had fallen because of a flooded market while bottled wine sales had risen substantially, post 1994. Local wine farmers, eyeing  the fertile soil , offered to replace the orchard with a vineyard that could become a source of income through fine wine.  Local businesses provided equipment and products, farmers provided vines and expertise and three red cultivars were planted. This, the start of an unique fund-raiser, presented an impressive example of generosity, selflessness and compassion by the Robertson community. It fell to Springfield estate to tend the vines and make the maiden blend of cab franc, cab and merlot in their cellar, the Bruwers offering their facilities and services free of charge.

 

The uncrushed berries were  fermented with native yeasts,  matured in French oak, and the wine bottled sans fining or filtration. This maiden 2008 blend was an elegant wine with firm tannins and a savory finish that impressed all who tried it. Three more vintages have since followed

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The wine was named Thunderchild : Just as storms are usually followed by sunshine, and the destruction they can cause can also herald new life, the parallel was drawn with children who came from homes where dark and threatening clouds affected their lives. They have exhibited the ability to overcome sadness and darkness and shine brightly when given love and care. Today many of the children are from such homes, rather than being orphans.

 

When I wrote about the project in 2008 I predicted that when Die Herberg marked its centenary in 10 years time the 2008 vintage of Thunderchild would have probably reached its peak in time to toast 100 years of caring. What I did not forsee is just how rapidly the project  blossomed, as  substantial sales of the wine locally and internationally see impressive revenue flowing to the Home.

 

 

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Thunderchild is managed by the Wingerdprojek Trust and 100% of profits and proceeds from the sale goes to Die Herberg’s educational trust. Only hard costs – vineyard supplies, labour and packaging – are recovered. Marketing and sales are done by the community pro bono. Here the extraordinary and ongoing efforts of Jeanette Bruwer of Springfield estate cannot be over emphasized – thanks to her efforts , Thunderchild is sold in the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, China, Botswana and Namibia. National sales continue to be substantial, with Investec pouring it for their functions and, Woolworths stocking it in their upmarket stores.

Jeanette is always quick to point out local support by wine stores, restaurants and bars and retailer Woolworths has contributed greatly. Several cellars in the Robertson region and further afield stock Thunderchild and display the bottles and their story prominently in their tasting rooms.

 

In need of a warm fuzzy feeling? Then be inspired by the reports of how the Trust funds have benefitted children over the last decade. One important decision with huge impact was to ensure that every child leaves the Home with a driver’s licence, something not paid for by government funds. Teenagers finding employment and apprenticeships in trades after school are at a great advantage by being able to drive..

 

 

The fund pays for a fulltime tutor to help with homework and studies and provide extra maths classes for all. By 2017 five children had enrolled in universities or colleges of their choice, and not only their fees, but books, meals and pocket money were covered by the fund. Those shining at sport have been funded to take part in competitions including an overseas rugby tour to England and Scotland and a dancing competition in Croatia.

 

Others who have special needs are also given the best chance to succeed: Currently 25 of these children are at special needs or technical schools in neighbouring towns as Robertson lacks such an institution. Thunderchild transports them on a weekly basis, pays tuition fees, board and lodging.

 

Time to pour a glass or two of Thunderchild 2015. The current blend consists of half merlot, 30% cab franc and 20 % cab sauvignon, made in the traditional way by fermenting uncrushed berries with native yeast found on the grape skins. It matured for a year in French oak and was bottled sans fining or filtration. It was then bottled aged for another year before being released.   Elegant, delicious, and a tad more accessible than some of the earlier vintages, this is a winner in every way

 

.As Jenna Bruwer put it, every child has the potential to change the world : The Thunderchild Project aims to unlock that potential in those at the Robertson Children’s Home .

 

The Thunderchild necktag urges consumers to “do good while drinking great wine” Perhaps it should add “and raise a glass to celebrate a decade of production and a centenary of caring.”

 

 

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Winelovers who watch their budgets – and that surely applies to most of us – no doubt know  the fine wines of Waterkloof, as well as  that striking building housing gourmet restaurant and cellar on the slopes of the Schapenberg high above the azure waters of False Bay.  But while they have savoured them on special occasions, comparatively few are likely to enjoy them as  regularly as they would like.

How many, I wonder, know of the range called False Bay,  a sister brand of Waterkloof estate wines,  but separate to the extent that they are listed on their own in the Platter guide. They are not new, but I think that talented cellarmaster Nadia  Barnard has taken the range up a notch or three, to the point where  those  sampled recently are on a par with some  Waterkloof labels, such as the Seriously Cool duo

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Barnard says that they have found better sources for the grapes used in the range and have marked the improvement with new labels that are both attractive and informative: The chenin blanc is adorned with a snail to accompany its name Slow Chenin Blanc 2017. The back label expands on the traditional methods used , where the fruit from old vines is fermented with wild yeasts found naturally on the grapes and that the winemaking process takes a least six months.

The grapes were sourced from three bushvine vineyards, one 40-year-old from the Swartland, the other  two from mature Stellenbosch vines.

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The result is quite delicious, a chenin whose fragrant aromas envelop one on unscrewing, followed by stone fruit flavours  on the palate. Its elegant, there’s old vine structure lurking there, all balanced nicely by a welcome freshness.

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he Old School syrah 2017 also impresses hugely. The only wine in the range that has alcohol levels as high as 14% this was sourced from two Stellenbosch vineyards, one in granite, planted in 2000 and the other in sandstone in 2005. Given the same attention and using the same methods as all the wines in this portfolio, there is plenty of fruit, a little white pepper and smooth and accessible tannins.

The rest of the range consists of the Windswept sauvignon blanc 2017, Crystalline chardonnay 2017, a Whole Bunch  2017 rosé  sourced from cinsaut and mourvèdre anda Bush Vine pinotage 2014,

Owner Paul Boutinot has been on a mission to find and rescue old, under-appreciated vineyards with potential since 1994, in order to  transform their fruit into wines made with minimal intervention, using  wild yeast sans  added. acid...  Trendy now, but not then !

 

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Waterkloof estate is one of the Cape’s prized showcases, from the sustainable farm, a conservation champion which achieved fully certified organic and biodynamic status 4 years ago, to its cheese tastings, fine Gallic dining, walking tours,  horse riding, even an art collection to contemplate – and a range of quality wines, this one offering extraordinary value for money. All the False Bay wines retail at R58.and are widely available from small retail outlets.

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Long, languorous  summer days seem to demand a Cap Classique and the current trend of rosé bubblies just adds positive energy to the sharing of beautiful bubbles. There are many good examples on the local market, with the L’Ormarins non-vintage MCC  a delicious choice to have in your cellar or fridge, ready to impress and please from noon to midnight.

Rosy-hued, a fine mousse, bright berry aromas lead to a satisfying explosion of long-lasting bubbles. Crispness and berry fruit flavours are  followed by cream and biscuit notes, and this all adds up to an irresistible non-vintage classic MCC, L’Ormarins Brut Classique Rosé, from by Anthonij Rupert Wyne in Franschhoek.

The pinot noir component of 58% is sourced from four vineyards – mostly from the home vines, with the rest from Elandskloof, Darling and Robertson. Most of the 42% chardonnay contribution came from the  Darling area, with the remainder from L’Ormarins and Robertson.

 With alcohol levels at a moderate 12,5%, this pinot noir/chardonnay blend makes the perfect partner to any romantic occasion, and can complement gourmet picnics, al fresco brunches, lunch, supper, high tea or just make a sundowner to remember. At R120, it offers good value as well.

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Franschhoek Summer Wines

 

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Start the shortest month of the year in style. Book your tickets for Franschhoek Summer Wines  taking place on Saturday February 3 at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards.

This is a showcase for the Franschhoek Vigneron’s choices for summer, comprising a selection of white, rosé,  Cap Classiques and light red wines.

Chef Pieter de Jager and his team will be on hand to present delicious fare that not only matches the wine, but the weather too. Live music will add the final touch to a perfect day out in the Franschhoek Wine Valley.

 Keep things cool, and dress elegantly in white. Tickets, cost R220 per person, and can be bought  via www.webtickets.co.za.  Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. The cost includes entry, a complimentary tasting glass and 15 wine tasting coupons, which can be redeemed on the day of the show between 12 noon and 5pm. 

For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or email info@franschhoek.org.za

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28 DAYS OF VALENTINE  TREATS AT ANTHONIJ RUPERT WYNE

 

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High tea and bubbly or a sparkling tasting and pairing of three MCCs  with  nougat crafted  to complement the wine.?  Both these can be savoured by couples who visit the farm during February, and both make romantic interludes of the finest kind.

High Tea for Two costs R180 pp and is served in the historic tasting room, where gourmet sweet and savoury items will accompany afternoon tea and a glass of L'Ormarins Brut Rosé makes the perfect finale.

There are no less than three L'Ormarins MCCs to pair with delectable nougat in the tasting room at just R60 per couple

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Booking for these treats are essential, either call 021 874 9074 or email tasting@rupertwines.com

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LANZERAC'S MENU OF VALENTINE SPECIALS

 

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The estate has dreamed up a quartet of treats to woo visitors in February, which they term the month of love.

The Valentine’s Wine Hamper comprises the estate’s renowned pinotage rosé, the chenin blanc and their sauvignon blanc, all 2017 vintage, packaged into a gift box at R250, selling from the Tasting Room during the entire month.

Their Wine & Dine package consists of tutored tasting preceding a light lunch at the Lanzerac Deli. The trio of wines – as in the hamper above – will be followed by a ploughman’s platter  for two, with home backed breads, cheese, charcuterie and preserves, plus a sweet finale . The cost is R300 for two and the package is available from February 12 – 18.

Add a luxurious spa treatment for two to the above package and you get the Couple’s Escape package, available for the same week for R800 per couple.

Or, go one step further and add a Back Couples massage to the tasting and, for R950 you experience the Spa Couple’s Retreat Package, offered from February 12 – 18.

. For bookings and more info, please contact Eske Cilliers on winesales@lanzerac.co.za or 021 886 5641.

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HANDS ON HARVEST CELEBRATES THEIR 10TH BIRTHDAY AND YOU’RE INVITED!

 

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Robertson Wine Valley is marking the completion of a decade of  Hands On fests with a compacted festival that has everything on the menu that guests of all ages and tastes could dream of! the dates to diarise are February 23 - 25

As always, the local wines flow, the country hospitality is warm and genuine, the valley fare is varied, delicious and the activities range from relaxed to strenuous! The cellars and the venues in Robertson, McGregor, Bonnievale and Ashton present programmes that explore the grape’s journey from vine to glass, present master classes in wine tasting, get visitors to blend their own wines, and that’s just the wine part!

Log onto  handsonharvest.com and compile your itinerary, then book online, and make space for the renowned Family Market on Sunday before you head home. Free entry and a fabulous array of stalls, activies, products, to sample and relish. This year the venue is Viljoensdrift and the fun starts at 10am and finishes at 2pm.

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Hands on Harvest at Lord’s Wines

 

This charming hillside cellar 10km from the village of McGregor promises to offer visitors a special and memorable day on Saturday,
 24 February.

 

Their delicious bubblies will be paired with oysters, gourmet street food, icecream and more, to a background of jazz.

See how their award-winning Cap Classiques are riddled then move onto view co-host  Jenna Clifford’s exhibition of  her ROSE  Collection at this glorious venue. Tickets  cost  just R50 and can be bought online using this link.


https://www.quicket.co.za/events/31815-lords-wines-hands-on-harvest/#/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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THE PALESTINIAN TABLE by Reem Kassis, published by  Phaidon Press, London 2017

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Let’s start with the author – a Palestinian professional who offers a fascinating self-portrait in her introduction, also of her family,and  follows with the complex composition of the Palestinian table

Kassis’sr mother is a Palestinian Muslim from a rural village in Palestine’s centre, her father a Palestinian Christian from a mountain village in the far north. Kassis grew up in Jerusalem, a melting pot of food and cultures, where her parents ensured that their daughter took a route other than aspiring to marriage:  So, having focussed on her schooling, Reem was accepted, at 17, at several top American universities. A decade in the USA saw her attain professional degrees, followed by glamorous jobs and a hectic lifestyle. Then  after she met and fell in love with a fellow Palestinian, the couple moved to London and married there.

As a young mother at home with a small daughter Kassis had time to enjoy cooking trad dishes from her childhood,  and shortened  and simplified some of them. She noted that British restaurants serving Middle Eastern dishes displayed little Palestinian cuisine, and decided to share with the world family recipes  and others from various villages: the collection doubles as  something of a Palestinian chronicle as she weave tales of identity. Even in this fractured land, regional culinary variations persist, from the mountains of the Galilee to the southern valleys, and from the coast of Yaffa to the West Bank.

 Kassis starts with basic recipes that she deems essential to to exploreing the cuisine. Foundational food she calls these, comprising a spice mix, a broth and fried nuts, elements that lend dishes depth of flavour. They also include labaneth, tahini sauce, vermicelli rice and a sugar syrup flavoured with orange blossom water and rosewater. It’s easy to recognise similarities with the basics of other Middle Eastern fare.

Being a cornerstone of all meals, the chapter on bakes is largely about breads: Along with  pita and taboon other flatbreads resemble pizza bases topped with  ingredients such as  cooked red bell peppers, and also used as dipping tools. Elaborate pastry bases  are filled with vegetables and cheese or used as turnovers with similar fillings. Crackers, spiced and seeded,  can be savoury or sweet.

Palestinian breakfasts are  family affairs  where eggs play a major role in some delicious dishess. They well  illustrate how Middle Eastern  spices and classics transcend borders from Syria to Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and beyond. Eggs fried in olive oil scented with za’atar and sumac perch on pita breads with a slice of  labaneh. Frittatas are spiced and herbed and served with olives, spring onion, mint and tomato. The Tunisian shakshuka is a favourite in many countries, the Palestinian version using fewer vegetables than most. The   “Middle Eastern peanut butter and jelly sandwich”  is how  Kassis describes the popular tahini and grape molasses spread  paired with warm pita bread. The Egyptians use grape molasses, the Gulf States prefer  date molasses.

The custom of a table laden with dishes, large and small, for diners to help themselves is universal in the region. We are offered recipes for several dips like hummus,  snacks like kubbeh, deep-fried cheese and za’atar parcels, pine nut rolls, which can be served either for lunch or supper,

Salads are sturdy affairs, often based on tomato, cucumber and mint around a grain base. Simple soups and substantial stews are based on vegetables and pulses and grains like freekah,  (cracked green wheat) while others star  lamb, beef or chicken.  There are a couple of intriguing seafood dishes as well.

Sweet finales in Palestine are usually seasonal or  defined by the occasion, religious or family celebration with which they are associated. Some of them are complicated and time-consuming. Think of baklawa, shredded phyllo and cheese pie, semolina cake. However their fragrant milk pud with pistachios is closely related to panna cotta and easy to make.

Attractive food photographs and a glossary of ingredients add to the attraction of this hardback which is a significant addition to the cookbooks of the region. It is delectable proof that food can transcend  divisions of religions and politics  if allowed to do so. 

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Posted by on in Reviews

PLATTER’S by Diners Club International: 2018 South African Wine Guide.

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Can you believe this is the 38th edition of this invaluable guide to wines, cellars, routes, restaurants and more across South Africa.  And, as remarkable, is the fact that its capable, meticulous, urbane and modest editor has seen this, his 20th edition, launched at the Waterfront in early November last year.

In his editor’s note Philip van Zyl briefly covers the scope of the guide, including recent additions to the information like GPS co-ordinates and acknowledges the efforts of his tasting team, one of whom, Dave Swingler, marks his 21st year of contributions.

Of the approximately 8 000 wines assessed, a few make it through to a second and third round tasting, and from these the five-star wines emerge, and ultimately, the Wines of the Year.  There is also a coveted award for Winery of the Year, this year presented to Raats Family wines. Highly recommended is another useful category to peruse, as are the Hidden Gems. Plenty of info for those looking for an industry overview, cultivars, competitions, as well as our wine regions, tours, restaurants and accommodation. The maps seem to be clearer this year as well. (And no, I have not acquired new spectacles).

Recommended price around R260 and of course, in addition to the print version of this comprehensive and essential companion, the guide is also available as an app and a web-based edition. 

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Harvest, romance and summer celebrations – the Boland lays them on!

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 The popular Stellenbosch Street Soirees are back. These are bi-monthly events  where quality wines, cool tunes and country fare combine to make street parties to remember. Hosted by the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, visitors can savour sundowner wines and early suppers as street stalls set up to offer their fare and wares under the oaks. Each soiree features a different choice of cellars and caterers. Tickets cost R100 for entry and 12 wine tasting tokens. Events take place from 6 – 8pm. Next one is on January 24 followed by February 7 and 21. For more info, contact 021 886 4310 or go to www.wineroute.co.za

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The annual Stellenbosch Harvest Parade will see the Cape minstrels, drum majorettes and brass bands take over the streets of the city of oaks on Saturday January 27. Marking the start of harvest season, its a tribute to the winemaking community, as decorated tractors and trailers from many cellars start their journey through town from 9am. A harvest blessing and awards ceremony takes place at the town hall an hour later. For more info, visit www.wineroute.co.za.

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The Delheim harvest celebration, a popular annual event, also takes place on Saturday January 27 and a few changes have been introduced to the 2018 programme.  It’s a one-day affair this year, but still includes grape picking and stomping,  good food, fine wine and live music. Guests will be seated at one long table and numbers are limited to 120 so early booking is advised. The fun starts at 11.30, with picking, and the ticket price of R650 includes a bottle of Delheim wine and lunch. Children's tickets cost R120, those under four get in free.To book, email charlotte@delheim.com or contact her at 021 888 4600.

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Cool elegance, white outfits and superb white, rosé, sparkling and light red wines are on the menu at Franschhoek Summer Wines, taking place on February 3 at Leopard’s Leap family vineyards.  These refreshing wnes will be paired with delicious food, while live music will add final touches to a memorable day in the valley.
Tickets, cost R220 per person, and can be purchased through 
www.webtickets.co.za.  Pre-bookin is essential as tickets are limited. The cost includes entry, a complimentary tasting glass and 15 wine tasting coupons,.

 
For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 876 2861 or email
info@franschhoek.org.za
 

 

 

Now here's a novel pairing!

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Popcorn may not be the first item to come to mind when contemplating Valentines month, but Stellenbosch Hills  has found some gourmet flavoured corn to complement their Polkadraai range of wines. So for the month of love, the cellar will offer  a delicious lineup that includes the sparkling Polkadraai Sauvignon Blanc Brut with banana-coated popcorn and their moreish Chenin Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc 2017 with salted caramel popcorn. Dark chocolate corn  is paired with the Pinotage/Merlot 2015 while the Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé enivens strawberry popcorn.

The pairings cost R50 a head and takes about 30 minutes, although visitors are invited to try the other Stellenbosch Hills  wines as well. As always, visit on a Friday, and buy five Polkadraa wines and get the 6th free of charge!

Opening times are from 9am to 5pm and Saturday from  10am to 3pm. Pop and cheer! Book ahead by calling 021 881 3828.

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