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Posted by on in Restaurants

 

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As Heritage month heads to a climax with the public holiday - and a long weekend to boot – we know that millions of South Africans will be lighting braai fires across the nine provinces as the recent tradition of combining heritage with a National Braai Day as been enthusiastically adopted.

Round many a fire family, friends and cooks will be clutching glasses of good Cape wine – both to celebrate the occasion and to accompany the brunch, lunch or supper feast sizzling over the coals.

Some of our cellars have established a heritage legacy through their history, having been in existence for more than 300 years. Others have done so through their products, that have become renowned as wines with a long tradition. Nuy Winery falls into the latter class, having produced fine muscadels since their inception in 1963. Hardly a year passes without these fortified dessert wines being rated as best in the country, both white and red. Former cellarmaster Wilhelm Linde (1971 – 2003 is widely credited with being responsible for the impressive increase in quality of muscadel at Nuy, something that present cellarmaster Christo Pienaar upholds and carries forward.

This month muscadel fans can invest in a case of of Nuy muscadel wines with five year intervals between vintages from 1991 to 2016 along with a 2006 white muscadel. Only 15 of these heritage cases will be released during September, each packed in a wooden case made for the occasion. This heirloom collection costs R1500.

Meanwhile, Nuy has also been increasing its range of wines from other cultivars over the last couple of decades, and one of these, the Mastery range has acquired a sauvignon blanc 2017, just released in time for spring flings. Moderate alcohol levels at just over 13, the back label uses Afrikaans to describe the wine as presenting tropical fruit aromas followed by a combination of fruit on the palate and having a long finish. I found the nose quite shy, but the palate full and fruity with a silkiness that lingered. Mixed fruit, yes, with a little passionfruit and lime, balanced by the freshness of youth and no searing acidity.  Slips down agreeably, both as a aperitif and a companion to a range of summer fare/

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A group of us from the McGregor Heritage society recently lunched at the Nuy hilltop restaurant and I’m pleased to report it's maintaining its well-deserved reputation for both cuisine and service, although the prices have risen. (What hasn’t, I hear you mutter).

 

Earlier this year cellarmaster Christo Pienaar was elected the new chairman of the SA National Wine Show Association, replacing Charles Hopkins who retired after a five-year stint. Pienaar is well qualified to take over, and has been actively involved in the Association for more than a decade.

 

All in all Nuy’s tasting centre and bistro, with its panoramic views, provides both an outlet for some notable wines and spirits, and offers a delectable oasis in the gastronomic desert that exists on the R60 between Worcester and Rooiberg.

 

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Posted by on in Events

Spring has sprung, Heritage Weekend beckons, and the choice of fine wine and food fests, country markets and elegant tasting affairs grows ever wider, across the Western Cape with one in Gauteng. Get your diaries out soon and contemplate these events, here in date order.

COUNTRY MARKET AT GROOTE POST

 

 

Groote Post’s monthly Country Market takes place on Sunday September 24 over the Heritage long weekend. As before, visitors can indulge a wonderful selection of artisanal food and homeware, the estate wines, while children have a host of activities to keep them happy. Entrance is free. For more info contact

I Love Yzer: 022 451 2202 or info@iloveyzer.co.za

www.grootepostcountrymarket.co.za · Facebook.com/GrootePostCountryMarket

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USANA FARM FEAST AT KLEIN WELMOED

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An authentic farm experience awaits visitors to Klein Welmoed outside Stellenbosch over the weekend of October 7 – 8. Bring the family to the Usana Farm Feast and unwind with fine wines, delicious food, and visits to cows, hens and other animals. Plenty of entertainment for all ages. Tickets cost R390 a head which includes lunch, wine-tasting and voucher for discounting wines purchased. Children under 13 and over 7 pay R 80. Prebook via

www.webtickets.co.za to avoid disappointment as limited tickets are available.

 For more information contact us at info@usana.co.za.

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Celebrate International Pinotage Day with Lanzerac Wine Estate

What better way to pay homage to South Africa’s unique grape varietal than at the home of the world’s first Pinotage - Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Join in the fun and festivities on Saturday, 14 October, for an unforgettable Pinotage Day experience where live music, superb wines and a Pinotage-inspired menu!

  • Lanzerac vertical Pinotage tasting presented by Cellar Master, Wynand Lategan, at 11h00 and 13h00.
  • Stock up on Lanzerac’s acclaimed wines for the festive season. Visitors to the Estate will qualify for a 20% discount when purchasing Lanzerac Pinotage or Lanzerac Pinotage Rosé on the day. 
  • Pinotage picnic baskets will be available to pre-order and enjoy on the day at a cost of R400 per couple. Filled to the brim with delectabledelights and a bottle of Lanzerac Pinotage Rosé. Enjoy your picnic under the giant Oaks in the Deli courtyard or on the picnic terrace overlooking the mountains and vineyards. 
  • The Lanzerac Deli adjacent to the Tasting Room will cater with its Pinotage-inspired menu. Guests can look forward to fresh oysters with Pinotage caviar, Pinotage and rosemary glazed lambburgers, cheese and charcuterie platters and delicious gourmet mini pizzas for the little ones. Executive Chef Stephen Fraser uses only the freshest, locally sourced produce to create artisanal and wholesome meals guaranteed to whet any appetite. 

Entry to Lanzerac is free of charge, but bookings for the vertical Pinotage tasting, Pinotage picnic baskets or the Lanzerac Deli is essential. 

For more information about Lanzerac’s International Pinotage Day festivities contact Zia van Rooyen du Toit at zia@lanzerac.co.za.

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ROBERTSON VALLEY WINE ON THE RIVER


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One of the most popular festivals in the winelands will take place for the 12th successive year over the weekend of October 20 – 22. Wine on the River takes place at Goudmyn farm along the banks of the Breede river, when  the valley winemakers, chefs, producers come together to offer hospitality to visitors from near and far – and often from overseas as well.

New vintages and old favourites from about 30 cellars will be poured.  An irresistible array of brunch and lunch items, simple and trad, trendy and sophisticated, will be served up from a host of stalls  while youngsters can enjoy horse and tractor rides, boat cruises and more. Interactive wine tastings focusing on specific cultivar are offered for winelovers wanting to learn more.  The annual Duck Derby, which raises funds for the Bonnie-People Project in Bonnievale takes place on the Sunday when it’s hoped to raise more than R250 000, last year’s target. Wines will be sold at cellar door prices, so stock up for the festive season and save!


Entrance ticket prices vary from R120 - R280 and children under 18 go in free of charge.  Early Bird Weekend ticket runs till 30 September 2017 for R250pp. Interactive wine tastings at R70pp per slot. All available at Webtickets under the Wine on the River page.

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 RMB WINEX 2017

 

RMB WineX – Jozi’s largest, most enduring and supremely elegant wine show – returns to the Sandton Convention Centre from 25 - 27 October 2017.  Feast your wine soul on the greatest selection of wines under one roof – from the most classical styles to the avant-garde; around 800 wines, artisanal products and accessories from 150 exhibitors are sure to delight all who love wine.  Bespoke tastings, product launches, wine route promotions and art displays are designed to enhance the WineX-lover’s experience of the exciting world of all things vinous. And, the Mastrantonio emporium caters for show visitors ‘on the move’ with easy-to-eat deli meals and sumptuous refreshments. 

Dates: Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 October 2017

Venue: The Pavilion, Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street, Sandton

Time: 17h00 to 21h00 each night

Bookings:  Book all tickets and packages online via www.computicket.com or call 0861 915 8000. Use the “Print at home” facility for easy access to tickets.

Tickets: Via computicket.com: Early Bird price from R165 to R190 for bookings by 13 October; thereafter and at the door, from R185 to R220   No entry for under 18s, babies or prams. 

Getting there and home:

  • Gautrain (www.gautrain.co.za): Visitors from Pretoria in the North and Benoni in the East catch the train and walk to the Sandton Convention Centre.
  • Uber, or see the website for other responsible rides.

 

Event Queries: See www.winex.co.za for all details, list of exhibitors and wines in the lead-up to the show, and to register for Shop@Show.  Follow on Facebook and Twitter @RMBWineX  #RMBWineX2017 #DiscoverYourTaste

Contact: OutSorceress Marketing, telephone 011 482 5936 or email winex@outsorceress.co.za.

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Season of Sauvignon

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The Durbanville Wine Valley is ready to welcome visitors and festival goers to Visit Sauvignon Country at the annual Season of Sauvignon festival 28 - 29 October.  The Durbanville Wine Valley is renowned as an excellent Sauvignon Blanc area and is one of Cape Town’s ‘must-visit’ wine destinations.

The valleys  11 prestigious wine farms,  - Altydgedacht, D’Aria, Diemersdal, De Grendel, Durbanville Hills, Hillcrest, Klein Roosboom, Meerendal, Nitida, Groot Phizantekraal and Signal Gun  - will each be celebrating the start of white wine season in their own individual style. Each winery has its own charm with superb entertainment for adults and children alike.

Festival-goers will guided through the festival offering with a detailed festival program that will be available on www.durbanvillewine.co.zafrom 1 August. Prebook festival tickets via www.webtickets.co.za from 1 August. 

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Posted by on in Reviews

Curry: Stories & Recipes across South Africa, by Ishay Govender-Ypma. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2017.

 

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An important culinary addition to our indigenous literature was celebrated with the launch of this impressive hardback, its gold design and lettering on the front cover adding decorative gravitas to the contents within. The endpapers inspire with little bowls of spices, pounded and powdered, to be mixed into the aromatic collection that will flavour the veggies, meat, fish and  poultry that simmer in a variety of pots across our country.

Journalist Ishay added a note to reviewers that arrived with the book, telling us of the fulfilling year she spent travelling to towns and townships, cities and farms across South Africa in search of every version of curry that is served up by our diverse communities. She enjoyed great hospitality, entered into an exploration of our past, and unearthed an extraordinary collection of stories and recipes to present to readers in this treasury. As is increasingly becoming common with current South African cookbooks, the stories often centre around hardship – from poverty and more often about suffering under apartheid laws, homes lost under the Group Areas act even as family cooks continued to make food, stretching ingredients, and keeping treats for special occasions.

Close to 90 recipes share the pages between the fascinating story of curry, related by cooks and experts, in every corner of the country. Crab curry from KwaZulu-Natal,. Cape Malay chicken curry, curried offal  from the Northern Cape, beef from Gauteng townships. You will find Karoo venison curries, lamb for the kerkbasaar, and curries featuring vegetables and fruits that are worth contemplating – and not only by vegetarians.

We follow Ishay’s journey through all nine provinces of South Africa. Indian home cooks predominate, unsurprisingly, in every region except for the Western  Cape where we find residents who specialise in Cape Malay cuisine, well-known cook and author Sydda Essop, weskus family cook Lenora Farmer from Paternoster, renowned spice guru Cass Abrahams, Afrikaans creative cook Inez Espost and an English-speaking restaurateur in Knysna who presents the only Thai curry in the book – the final recipe! Also featured is Emily van Sitters of Franschhoek who  I met when collecting recipes for a Cape cookbook way back when. She shared her recipe for seafood masala bobotie, still the finest bobotie dish ever  tasted.

The many black cooks, mostly women, use fewer spices in their curries, although some, like Lisbeth Mametja, of North Sotho origin, living in Hoedspruit, cooks a mean Indian curry thanks to working at game lodge with a chef from  Mumbai. Along with mutton, lamb and many chicken curries, there is a fine selection of meat-free recipes, where veggies, fruit,  pulses, soya, nuts and paneer star, along with  some interesting seafood curries. The recipes conclude with a selection of side dishes to complement curries, including roti, samp, sambals,pickles and atchars.-

This compilation is  set to become a South African classic, and one which even novice cooks can buy knowing that the recipes were all re-tested by Ishay’s husband to make sure they would be in safe hands when trying out a new dish. Now there’s dedication worth acknowledging!

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

 

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Fun! Affordable!  Informal!

That’s the promise from the chefs and caterers, winemakers and hosts of the village of McGregor who are gearing up to welcome visitors during their 2017 Food and Wine fest.

 

Head to the valley along roads fringed with daisies in pastel hues. Cross the Breede river  and cruise along the road to nowhere – until your reach the marketplace in Church street, where the church spire gazes down on tents and stalls, musicians and cooks, as enticing  aromas of fare both local and exotic drift skywards,  offering irresistible temptation.

Tasting glass in hand, sample the new vintages of no less than seven cellars that line the McGregor wine route, and treat your palate to some fine wines, every one of which is created in the valley. The range extends from a choice of bubbly to organic whites, riveting rosé, award-winning reds, warming soetes and world- class grappas and eaux de vies. Stock up for the festive season at prices to please both palate and purse.

The following cellars will be pouring their wines; 

 

Tanagra (don't miss the cab franc); Donkey Sanctuary (off-dry colombar is popular), McGregorWines (good affordable reds), Bemind (cinsaut is a must), Solara (delicious organic s/blanc), Lords (bubbly and new s'blanc) and Buffalo Creek.

Bring the family, as youngsters will be well-catered for – and will be cooking up a storm themselves – under the watchful eye of an experienced teacher. Adults can relish oysters, schwarmas, curry, samoosas and hamburgers, or settle for heritage treats like roosterkoek and boerie rolls, followed by pastries and pancakes.

Bring a basket to take home artisanal fare, and browse among local crafts for gorgeous hessian bags of aromatic herbes de Provence. Choose favourites  from a brand new range of souvenir keyrings and fridge magnets illustrating McGregor’s landscapes,  flora, heritage homes, gardens and more.

Come for the day, or make a weekend of it and revel in the peace  of  traffic-free roads under starry night skies. Bring your hiking boots, your bikes, and savour handmade hospitality during a memorable taste of McGregor

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The festival runs from 10am – 4pm on Saturday September 30. Tickets, which include a wine glass and 10 tastings, cost R80 a head. For more info, and to book tickets, call 023 625 1954 or send an e-mail to info@tourismmcgregor.co.zaTanagra

 

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Posted by on in Blog

 

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When one samples new vintages emanating from the cellar of a person of Jan Boland Coetzee’s stature, two points arise: one is heightened expectation and the other is a certain difficulty in separating the man from the wine. In keeping with Heritage month. Vriesenhof’s new-look wine range sports labels that pay tribute to a handsome gabled farmstead,  set against the rugged   Stellenbosch mountain.

Vriesenhof Pinotage 2016 is the simple heading above the B&W photograph while the back label offers more info:  it’s fruity, medium-bodied and meant for drinking now; alcohol levels are a medium 13,5%. Tradition, quality and enjoyment combine smoothly in this screwcapped product, a contemporary expression of a grape for which Jan Boland Coetzee has been renowned for decades. It was produced from a small vineyard of old bush vines at the top of the hill.

While Pinot noir has been his focus for some 30 plus years, Jan started his career at Kanonkop back in the ‘60s where he produced fine Pinotage. He bought Vriesenhof in 1980, which then boasted cab, cinsaut and pinotage vineyards. At the start of the new millennium his Pinotage of ’96, ’97 and ’98 from Vriesenhof-Talana Hill-Paradyskloof - were described by John Platter as four-star wines, offering “medley of intriguing flavours result of blending batches of fruit handled different ways.”

Jan soon planted Chardonnay, Merlot and Cab Franc, added Pinot Noir in the’ 90s then Grenache in 2009.

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Today his winemaker Nicky Claasens crafts each wine in the new-look range to a specific style: – along with Pinotage the reds comprise two blends, a Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre  and Kallista (traditionally Cab/ Cab Franc/ Merlot) and Grenache.  It's been observed that Claasens, who started as understudy to Coetzee some nine  years ago, seems to be countering the patriarch’s anti-modernist approach somewhat.

To the whites:  a pair of chardonnays, of which I sampled the unwooded 2016. Against the connoisseur trend  I have long been a fan of unwooded chard, and this is one of the most enjoyable I have drunk in a long while:  Its meant for immediate consumption, offering  freshness, fruitiness, well balanced structure and immense charm. With moderate alcohol levels this delicious summer aperitif sells for R95, whiel the pinotage is R125.

It is apposite that Jan Boland Coetzee, a winelands character whose down-to-earth attitude is tempered by a huge respect for nature, represents the  current generation of a family who arrived in Table Bay 27 years after Jan van Riebeeck .  As he and Claasens unveil wines that offer expression of place even while they appeal to a broader spectrum of wine lovers, those wishing to celebrate our viticultural heritage alongside a braai of distinction, could hardly ask for better.

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Tagged in: Review Wine
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Posted by on in Recipes

EAT YOUR WORDS: THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK by Louise Gelderblom. Published by Quivertree, 2017.

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 Clever title, great concept, and it’s sure to be another Quivertree winner. One look at the appetising cover with its cake-stand holding a featherlight pastry base filled with smoked salmon and a tangle of spring salad ingredients, and readers, cooks, and (of course) book club members will be instantly hooked.

Louise Gelderblom is a keen cook who took over from an equally accomplished mother and whose two daughters have followed in their mother’s culinary  footsteps. So this cook and voracious reader has been catering for her book club (Eat your Words) for decades and where the idea of this recipe collection was mooted.

In her introduction Gelderblom states that she has focussed on do-ahead fare that involves litte fuss, use readily obtainable ingredients and has included a good number of vegetarian options. I warmed to her immediately!

She offers further advice on planning, the advantages of quality ingredients and that only free-range eggs and humanely reared fish and poultry should be options. (What about lamb, beef and pork, I wondered, then noticed that this collection is meat-free. I think I should join that club...)

Many book clubs stay with drinks and snacks before, during or after the agenda, so the first chapter on finger snacks is welcome – with parmesan paprika biscuits taking the savoury cake! For those serving a meal, a few antipasti items make a fine start, such as hummus, marinated feta, harissa, tzatziki and frittata wedges. Informal meals of soup and bread in winter and salads in summer make another option, and the selection in  the chapter is tempting, and could inspire further ideas.

The substantial section of main course ideas varies from quiche (such a useful and variable item), several chicken dishes, fish boboties, along with other fishy bakes, and vegetarian choices like spinach and feta pie and a veggie cashew korma. All are suitable for feeding a crowd with pre-prepared ease. Side dishes precede desserts that include popular classics like crème caramel, lemon tart, melktert and baked chocolate pud. Also pavlova and frangipane tart for more ambitious bakers

Between the recipes you will find comments from book club hosts from across South Africa, describing how they operate and entertain. Some clubs follow a theme every month, others raise funds for charity, others gather for a monthly dose of bubbly and snacks and book exchanges.

There is an easy-to-consult index and the food photographs are simply styled , offering a colourful and tempting aspect so essential to books of recipes.

In retrospect it seems amazing that no one has thought of producing a local title around  book club eats before. Well, now it’s been done, very  well and in delicious style.

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Posted by on in News

 

Some 80 years back,  grapes were planted on Buffelsvallei farm, soon to be renamed De Krans, for the first time. They were destined to produce raisins and a little sweet wine. Forward nearly 30 years to 1936 and we find that this farm on the outskirts of Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo has acquired a cellar, that’s still  in service today, housing the production of a range of quality ports and Muscat wines. More recently, a bigger range of table and dry wines were added to the list, offering consumers a fine choice from this friendly operation.

b2ap3_thumbnail_DK-Chardonnay.jpgDe Krans has just released the new vintages ofb2ap3_thumbnail_DK-Chenin-Blanc-Free-Run.jpg its 2017 Wild Ferment Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, a pair of unwooded whites which call for long summer days and slow al fresco meals with which to pair them.

 The Chenin is produced from only free-run juice, and winemaker Louis van der Riet chalked up gold from last year’s Michelangelo and the Champion White Wine award from the 2014 Klein Karoo Young wine show with previous vintages. This is a sprightly wine, its zing great for sultry days, where the tropical fruits pair well with marinated braaied chicken and salads or grilled fish. Low alcohol levels at 12,63% are a bonus, as is its price of just under R60.

The Chardonnay, harvested from low-yielding vines on the banks of the Gamka river is  wild or naturally fermented with no yeast added. It presents an appealing hue of limey yellow and offers characteristic aromas of citrus and caramel. Followed by similar flavours, in a mouthful that is also frisky and refreshing with alcohol levels of 13,22. As a lively aperitif, it’s delightfully easy to enjoy, but will also take on pasta, salads and simple poultry dishes with ease. Also selling at R59, which is  easy on the purse as on the palate.

Both these wines are geared to long hot days and balmy evenings, for  informal occasions that do not demand sniffing and swirling and serious discourse. Effortless pleasure, easy drinking, screwcapped whites that spell out Come on Summer, come on!

If you are heading for the Spring Blossom Fest at De Krans this weekend, you will be on the spot for sampling. But they are also stocked at outlets nationwide.

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As always, August teases with a hint or two of spring growth and welcome warmth then reverts to form with snow, gales and freezing temperatures. The wet is of course both welcome and essential, and we should remember that sustaining soups and warming reds are still on the menu for a few weeks.

Some fine releases from the brilliant 2015 vintage are trickling from Cape cellars. We have savoured several impressive whites, and now the reds are following, although – as Hartenberg states in their press release – their admirable 2015 Merlot should only reach its full potential in a decade’s time. Hmm – how many consumers will take note and tuck away a case for 2025?b2ap3_thumbnail_Hartenberg-Merlot-NV.jpg

As most won’t, its good to report that it’s already more than enjoyable, fruity wine with a little spice adding interest to the dark fruit, and a silkiness lending elegance to the finish. It’s a merlot to pair with pasta and sauces, and it can cope with tomato with ease, or accompany gourmet pizzas and items like savoury cheesecakes.

Alcohols levels of 14% are unlikely to put off many merlot fans, while Hartenberg points out that previous merlots have rated gold in both Veritas and Councours Mondial de Bruxelles. It sells at R175.

 

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Posted by on in News

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Both are magnificent examples of aging beautifully, continuing to develop grace and style while presenting elegance and highlighting impressive complexity. The latter, Lady May, a 2011 cabernet sauvignon blanc has amassed several prestigious awards, but stands way behind those showered on the  owner of Glenelly Estate in Ida’s Valley, Stellenbosch, a farm that is a must on any serious wine-lovers itinerary.

But as this is August, dubbed women’s month, these words are penned more to honour Mme May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, who turned 92 in May,  an event shared with another in London when the IWC  presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award .

Back in 1994 Lady May  became President of the International Wine & Spirit competition, subsequently becoming Vice President for Life. In that year she was also awarded title of Decanter Woman of the Year, and, as the years rolled on,  the list of honours and awards grew longer, and today  the accolades from France, USA, and South Africa make for inspiring reading.

Born into one of Bordeaux’s oldest wine families, this did not necessarily guarantee an easy road to success. Madame May worked tirelessly in pursuit of excellence at Chateau Pichon Lalande over 30 years to achieve her goal.  Two years short of her 80th birthday she bought Glenelly estate outside Stellenbosch and planted vines, built a cellar – and installed a Glass Museum to mirror that of the one in her French chateau. She wanted to continue the French heritage of winemaking at the Cape, and today, this striking estate offers fine wines, a charming bistro, a tasting centre and her unique glass collection. It is apposite that this glamorous grandmother has two grandsons – 8th generation vintners and wine producers – to support her and take both her French and South African enterprises forward. Heritage is honoured and tradition is upheld on two continents, in immaculate style.

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Just when I thought I was getting to know most corners of the fair Breede  River valley, I discover another vista as a mountainous green landscape unfolds before me, timeless, beautiful and secluded.

This makes the setting for a tasting of world-class wines on an historic Robertson farm. Created by a highly talented and exuberant winemaker and her hospitable supportive man - current curators of no less than three wine-grape farms - the recently released range is already making its mark among connoisseurs.   

Welcome to Mont Blois!

A scant six kilometres from the suburban boundary of Robertson lies a different world. De Hoop road winds upwards to the foothills of the Langeberg mountains, and, near its end, the signpost for Mont Blois indicates a rustic path threading past stores and outbuildings to reveal a wonderful old silo, a venerable cellar, and two farmsteads on different levels. Immaculately maintained, the mid-19th century gabled home stares east over a  patchwork of vineyards to a series of conical hills. They’re densely cloaked with indigenous bush, interspersed with dark ,deep, dank kloofs, where forestation is reminiscent of the Tsitsikamma, and little sunshine penetrates. Shy baboons forage, keeping clear of human habitation and the Cape leopard stalks the tracks, only the camera trap occasionally recording his presence.

Taking the eye further, the  layer beyond  is the blue-grey ripple of the Langeberg, today pale and somewhat amorphous under a cloudless azure sky.

Nodding in agreement as I exclaim over the beauty, Nina-Mari Bruwer adds: “I said to Ernst that I hope never to wake up to any other view than this!”

Nina-Mari and ErnstBruwer

 

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The first Bruwer to settle in the broad river valley would surely be amazed at the extent of his family that inhabit the farms, several  of whom make enjoyable wine. Ernst, a sixth-generation descendant, met Nina-Mari at Stellenbosch university, where they both studied oenology and viticulture . Nina-Mari hails from Pretoria, started a BSc, then moved to wine studies in her second  year. After graduating this CWM  enjoyed working stints in a series of top cellars – Boekenhoutskloof, Thelema and a harvest in Bordeaux -, before marrying and settling on Mont Blois, a farm which had a history of producing fine muscadels in the 1980’s before a family tragedy saw production cease.

Ernst  sells grapes to cellars near and far for both bulk and fine wine production,including Franschhoek. Between producing two daughters, Nina-Mari did the farm admin, but made time to experiment in a corner of the old cellar, using its venerable basket press and old French oak barrels. Here she started fulfilling an ambition to  make excellent wine simply in the traditional way, with minimal interference, using mostly natural yeasts. She is lucky enough to have distinctly different terroirs from which to source her harvests; including  limestone, gravel, alluvial clay near the Breede river,and red Karoo clay on Mont Blois. The soils are distributed between Mont Blois, neighbouring farm La Fontaine and Goedemoed near the Breede river.

The wines

 

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Nina-Mari  has released a pair of charming chardonnays, both 2016 single vineyard wines, both having matured in second and third-fill French oak and both unfiltered. They also share hues of pale gold, unusually for young chardonnay, but on the nose and palate differences emerge. Simple traditional winemaking was used, including an old manual basket press.

Kweekamp, sourced from vines rooted in limestone, is the more elegant of the two. Aromas of orange and sweet rough-skin lemon along with flint  are followed by an effortless blend of minerality and fruit on the palate. Making a delightful spring aperitif, it would require delicate fare of gourmet standards not to overwhelm it.

Hoog & Laag,  sourced from vines in red  Karoo clay, has a brisker character, presenting citrus and nuts on the nose, more nuttiness backed by fresh, almost frisky notes on the palate. With alcohol levels of 13,5%, it should make a lively companion to a range of summery fare ,from complex salads to white meat classics.

Nina-Mari’s complex chenin is named, simply Groot Steen 2016, another single vineyard wine from 30-year-old vines planted in riverside alluvial clay.  A powerful, rich chenin,  with a nose that’s almost bewildering in its multitude of aromas, Spices predominate slightly, cardamom is there, a little cinnamon, and a few robust herbs – particularly bay leaves. A little unfashionably high in alcohol levels at 14%, but these are not evident.

 On re-tasting the following morning, this chenin revealed its chameleon character, with flavours developing to offer  spiced preserved fruit beautifully balanced by discernible backbone. It could make a fine match for several Cape Malay classics, along with North African tagines. Up there with the best from any region!

The tasting ended with the Mont Blois single vineyard Pomphuis Muscadel 2016, 500ml of dessert pleasure produced from 26-year-old vines sited on a hot rocky gravel slope. Unfiltered, having spent a year in old French oak it’s packed with  stone fruit, melon, raisins and more, yet also fresh and sprightly. Delightful in youth, but will gain character and offer more syrupy enjoyment as the years tick on.

The whites retail at R295, the muscadel at R250. These are connoisseur products that raise the Robertson bar to new and exciting heights.

Looking back, looking forward

Winemaker Bruwer has several reds up her sleeve, - a pinotage, cab, shiraz and petit verdot are all maturing in second and third-fill barrel. They may be released singly, they may end up in a fine blend – that’s a decision for the future.  And she’s contemplating a dry muscat, among other ideas

Mont Blois – which enjoyed a fine reputation for superior muscadels back in the 1980’s – is back on the Robertson wine map in a significant way. The venerable silo, with its warm patina of age, is set to play a new role as the farm’s tasting centre – simple  renovations,  just installing electricity and running water, nothing glitzy, I am happy to hear.

Curious to find out about the original Blois, I went to Wikipedia which  reveals that it’s an ancient city on the banks of the Loire,  regional capital of Loir-et-Cher, between Orléans and Tours. Chenin country, I surmise. No sign of vineyards there today, Nina-Mari tells me, when she and Ernst visited recently. And – in the town museum – no visible record of a Bruwer either! Ah well, maybe it took travel to a new continent to establish his legacy. He could hardly hope for a better one than that which the owners of Mont Blois are providing.

Where to find them

The Mont Blois quartet is stocked by some good wine boutiques in Cape Town. Winelovers are welcome to contact the farm for tastings and more info. Email info@montblois.co.za or call 023 626 4052.

                        

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MORE FOOD, WINE AND FESTIVAL EVENTS AUGUST & SEPTEMBER

 

Fund-raising dinner on the Garden Route

The Carpe Diem School in George makes the venue for the 2017 Gourmet and Gourmand evening, taking place on Saturday August 26.

Restaurants from George, Wilderness, Oudtshoorn, Riversdale and Mossel Bay and Barrydale are taking part. Tickets cost R800 a head and proceeds go to the Carpe Diem School. Bookings, contact the school.

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GROOTE POST’S FIRST COUNTRY MARKET OF THE NEW SEASON

 

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Diarise Sunday August 27 when the first market of spring takes place from 10am and will be followed by monthly markets until year end.

Groote Post will again be a hive of activity, brimming with delectable and beautiful country offerings including artisan foods, arts and crafts, home-ware and décor, and of course, Groote Post’s well-loved wines as well as loads of kiddies’ activities.

Look out for Darling gourmet produceincluding: Darling Mushrooms, Weskus Worswa, Darling Pomegranate Products, Saucy Boys’ organic preservative-free chilli sauces, marinades and spices, Darling Brew and more.

Highly-acclaimed, Jimm Harisson Project, an alter-rock-acoustic-blues band from the infamous Belville Rock City will entertain the crowd. Groote Post’s award-winning restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, will be open as usual, but note that booking is essential.Although pets are welcome – all dogs must be on a leash at all times.    Entry to the Groote Post Country Market is free of charge

For further information on the Groote Post Country Market Contact Dave Coleshill: 076 834 8085 or dave@iloveyzer.co.za

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TASTINGS PRESENTED BY MEOW WINEMAKERS

 

Wine Cellar will host a new-wave tasting by the Movement of Extreme Overberg Winemakers on August 31 in Cape Town and on the following day in Johannesburg. These former Young Guns and friends, who held tastings over the years at the  Wine Cellar have now dubbed themselves MEOW and are collaborating with their new releases. The group comprises Peter-Allan Finlayson, Chris Alheit, John Seccombe and Marelise Niemann, and their labels are Crystallum, Gabrielskloof, Thorne & Daughters and Momento. The  Roodebloem Studios in Woodstock makes the Cape Town venues and Wine Cellar in Dunkeld for the Gauteng tasting. Tickets cost R450 a head. Time for both is 18h30. To book http://www.winecellar.co.za/meow-movement-of-extreme-overberg-winemakers-cape-town-nv.html or email nilo@winecellar.co.za

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FRANSCHHOEK UNCORKED FOR A SPRING WEEKEND

 

 

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By mid-September spring should have really sprung, and the annual Franschhoek Uncorked Festival is a good way to celebrate. It takes place from September 16 – 17.

New releases in plenty, and some classic gems will be poured on the farms, and each will offer entertainment ranging from live music and fare from tapas to gourmet. Book accommodation and enjoy the valley in its new season glory. Passes cost R150 and pre-booking through www.webtickets is essential.

For more info contact the Franschhoek Wine Valley offices on 021 8762861, visit www.franschhoekuncorked.co.za.

 

Eikendal Vineyards Pizza & Wine Pairing

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Pair Eikendal’s merlot, Charisma blend and cab with a companion mini-pizza, thin-crusted, delicious toppings, and there’s a fourth now, a vegetarian option to pair with their merlot 2015.

This popular and relaxed lunchtime experience continues  at this lovely Stellenbosch venue until the end of September. It is offered from Tues to Sunday from 12 noon. To book, contact Chantal-Lee at 021 855 1422 or send an email toinfo@eikendal.co.za. 

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HOMEGROWN  by Bertus Basson, published by Russel Wasserfall Food, Jacana Media, 2016.

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It would be difficult to find a more fitting title for this collection of recipes, memories and snatches of  Basson’s life.  He is one of South Africa’s most down-to-earth chefs, describing himself as “an Afrikaner kid who didn’t eat his vegetables” and that the “flavours, smells and memories of growing up in South Africa make me the cook I am.”

Bertus gained immediate fame as the judge on the television show The Ultimate Braai Master, but before that had built a fine gastronomic reputation as head of  the renowned Overture restaurant in Stellenbosch   - along with a couple of others and a catering company.  In his foreword he offers a great tribute to his wife Mareli who is as keen on cooking as he is, as curious about good food everywhere, and who he describes as his “perfect parner for this journey...”

Given the tough time that sugar is having in  current  health-wise diets and articles, cookbooks and television shows, Homegrown offers a nice contrast by opening with a favourite dessert in  Childhood, the first chapter. It stars  sugar, cream, caramel, confectionery,  you name it...   It’s followed by his Kos Kos salad, canned pilchards in tomato sauce teamed with lettuce, cucumber, avo, tomato and soft- boiled eggs, mayonnaise-dressed with capers adding a little sophistication. Messy and delicious, it’s another  childhood staple that Basson  describes as poor man’s Nicoise.  This nostalgic section also offers braaied snoek, pumpkin pie, sweet mustard tongue, frikkadels, and melktert with variations.

Friends and family from his ‘hood who cook and bake star next, with Bertus featuring  both the characters and their specialities. These  range from bread and scones to Gatsby and peri-peri chicken, from  shisanyama of mielies and braaied brisket to  boerewors rolls, pies, and pannekoek.  To finish,  commonplace guavas get a lift with classic muscadel-spiked  egg custard.

In the chapter dubbed Ingredients, things go upmarket somewhat – soft-cured biltong is served with greens, Parmesan shavings,  anchovies and black olives. Whole roast lamb’s liver is paired with sorrel  or parsnips and green beans, and Basson’s favourite, black  mussels come with beer, bacon and seaweed. Octopus shares a plate with  gnocchi and nasturtium paste.

There’s much more before the final meal, a long  family Sunday lunch where slow- roasted  leg of lamb and veggies are  followed by his wife Mareli’s  popular dessert cake, topped with figs, pecans and cream.

The text is interspersed with a great selection of relevant photographs – at the sea, in the garden, on the farm, in the kitchen. Guest cooks are photographed in action or showing off their culinary creations, and the food pictures are appetising as well.

This collection offers   an enjoyable range of mostly traditional South African fare with a few twists and turns and little ceremony. The text finishes with a glossary and index. The editing could have been a little tighter here and there –  ingredients missing in either the list or the method  were noted, although I did not go through every recipe – but one feels that neither Bertus nor most readers will let these typos upset them

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SPRING SPECIAL AT DE KRANS

 

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Orchards in blossoms, crystal clear air, and vines  shooting with beautiful lime green  leaves. Thats the background to the Spring Blossom Festival taking place at De Krans cellar in Calitzdorp as Heritage month unfolds. Diarise September 2 and 3 for a superb start to the new season.

Before contemplating tasting De Krans ranges of award-winning wines and ports, jog or walk through hte vineyards on a five or 10km trail. Wander through the peach and apricot orchards, and take some photographs – theres a prize for the best spring pictures of the winners weight in wine and port. Adopt a vine – it costs R20 which helps fund the Hope Options Centre in Calitzdorp.

The local Saturday market will be filled with indigenous plants and trees, while herbs, produce and homemade bread will tempt as well. The De Krans Bistro and Deli will be open all day, offering brunch and lunch. On Sunday there is a high tea with a difference, starting at 11am which is port-based paired with treats. Booking essential.

Spring means refreshing white wines, and De Krans should be releasing their new

chenin, and sauvignon blanc, alongside  pinotage and moscato perlés. And Sunday also offers a range of port cocktails from lunchtime.

For more info and bookings email dekrans@mweb.co.za or contact Bessie Swanepoel on 044 213 3314.

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UNLOCK THE UNUSUALS!

 

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 Calling Gauteng winelovers! The popular Unusuals Wine Festival is back to showcase South Africa’s lesser known varietals in the only focused platform in Gauteng of these wines. This not-to-be-missed display of exceptional wines takes place at the Killarney Country Club on Thursday, September 7, at 18h00. Try some of the finest Tempranillo, Semillon, Cinsaut, Grenache, Carignan, Tinta Barocca and many more delicious wine varietals. Tickets at R250 are available from Webtickets and Wine Menu at Blu Bird Centre. The price includes unlimited tasting and light snacks. Go to www.winemenu.co.za or book tickets on http://www.webtickets.co.za/events/festival/unlock-the-unusuals-by-wine-menu/1472704606
 
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Bot River 2017 Spring Weekend

 

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Follow the rainbow for fanciful farm hopping and pantry shopping in and around Bot River over the first weekend in September. Organisers have selected a host of activities that showcase the region, while the wineries get ready to pour their diverse ranges for visitors.

The weekend starts with a Best of Bot wines, a food and wine pairing dinner presented by Forage executive chef Gregory Henderson with Higgo Jacobs and fellow sommelier Ewan Mackenzie on Friday evening. Tickets cost R850. During Saturday and Sunday the cellars – Arcangeli, Barton, Villion, Luddite, Genevieve, Beaumont, Gabrielskloof, Rivendell, Paardenkloof and Maremmana will present their wines, lay on fine fare, ranging from smorgasbord to burgers, lamb on the spit, Cape heritage dishes,  dinner dances and more.  Children will be well catered for as well.

Tickets for the 2017 Bot River Over the Rainbow Spring Weekend cost R100 per person and can be purchased, along with tickets to individual events, at www.quicket.co.za unless specified otherwise. The weekend pass includes an armband and wine glass, which you may collect at the Bot River tourism office. Quicket stations will also be at Beaumont, Gabriëlskloof, and Wildekrans on the weekend. Youngsters under 18 years may enter for free.For accommodation options in the area visit: www.botriverwines.com.

For more information on the Bot River Over the Rainbow Spring Weekend 2017 contact Melissa Nelsen at cell: 083 302 6562 or email Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za

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Sommeliers Selection Wine Festival – learn about wine that goes well with food

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The Sommeliers Selectionwine festival takes place at the Tsogo Sun Hyde Park Hotel on Thursday, September 28, from 17h00. Wine lovers will have the opportunity to try wines, from top estates, voted the best by South Africa’s top sommeliers and those that pair well with food and offer competitive value against other contenders.Tickets, which are limited to 150 people,are R200 which includes a glass and are available from Webtickets. Go to www.thesommeliersselection.co.za or book on https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1472721056

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WE LOVE WINE FEST CELEBRATES 6TH ANNIVERSARY

 

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The annual Capegate We Love Wine fest 2017 takes place on Friday and Saturday, August 25 – 26 with a programme designed to delight all palates and purses.

 

Not only is there an impressive lineup of Cape wine producers, but the itinerary at the Wine Theatre offers a wealth of free experience for those keen to learn and entertain at home in style. Tastings include Perdeberg’s Barrels and Hops, Orange River Cellar’s Create your own cocktails and Nibbles and Wine by Overhex, while themed tastings include Budget Beaters, Sweet Treats and The Diversity of Pinotage.  

 

Cellars taking part are: Badsberg, Bonfire Hill Wines, Bonnievale Wines, DeuxFreres Wines, Devonvale Golf & Wine Estate, Front Row Wines, Fryer’s Cove Winery,  HauteEspoir, Imbuku Wines, Kingna Distillery, MWS - Montagu Wine & Spirits, Overhex Wines, Louisvale, Orange River Wines, Perdeberg Wines, Peter Bayley Wines, Roger Clayton Wines, Ruitersvlei, Stellenbosch Hills, The Fledge& Co, Triple Three Gin, Villiersdorp Cellar, Winkelshoek Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

 

Tickets are R75 each from www.computicket.com or R90 at the door.  The ticket price includes the tastings, a branded glass and free entry into the CWA Theatre. The show hours are 17h00-21h00 on August 25 and 13h00-18h00 on Saturday 26.

Visit the Capegate Facebook page for the latest news and updates or www.capegatecentre.co.za.

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Rare wine gems at Nedbank CWG Auction Showcase

 

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This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town and Johannesburg on August 17 and 23 respectively. As a preamble to the Auction which follows in September, the showcase provides a valuable meeting place with our top winemakers and samples of the treasury of hand crafted wines that will go under the hammer.

The Guild members will also present a range of their own flagship wines sold under their own labels. Another important feature is the Silent Auction where visitors can bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions. This fundraiser helps contribute toward the Development Trust which supports the education and training of young wine industry talent through the Progege Programme, a mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists. Tickets cost R300 a head and are obtainable through www.webtickets.co.za. The Cape Town Showcase is at the CTICC ballroom on Thursday Aug 17 from 18h00 – 21h00. The Johannesburg event takes place at The Atrium, Nedbank Sandton on Aug 23 at the same times.

 The CWG Auction takes place on Saturday, September 30 at Spier Conference Centre and is open to the public. Registration closes on September 20 Visit www.capewinemakersguild.com, email info@capewinemakersguild.com or call Tel: +27 (0)21 852 0408 for more info.

 

AUGUST POP UP LUNCH AT BOTTELARY HILLS

 

 

This takes the form of a Scottish braai with chef George Jardine at the helm. The venue is Kaapzicht estate, the date is Sunday August 27 and the event promises to be a memorable Sunday. Accompanied by the acclaimed wines of the Bottelary Hills producers – Kaapzicht, Mooiplaas, Hazendal, Hartenberg and Bellevue – chef Jardine will demonstrate his culinary flair over an open fire around which tables will be set.

 

Tickets are R550pp and include a wine tasting the meal itself, paired with individual wines; and, a bottle of wine from the Bottelary Hills region to take home.

 

To make a reservation or see a map of Bottelary Hills, visit the Stellenbosch Wine Routes website at www.wineroute.co.za. For more information phone (021) 886 8275.

 

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Recently I wrote about the launch of the first Vermentino in South Africa, by Attilio and Michela Dalpiaz of Ayama in the Voor-Paardeberg. The occasion took the form of an auction, local and online, on June 16, Youth Day at the Roodebloem studios in Woodstock.

The event succeeded beyond their expectations, raising a whopping R128 000 which will be used to buy a bus for Perdjie farm school in Paarl, enabling children from  farms on the Voor-Paardeberg to attend the school started by Ayama and neighbouring wine farm Scali.

 

What a great way to introduce an unique wine to South Africa! Vermentino is a cultivar with a long history, originally Spanish, but adopted in Italy, with success, particularly on Sardinia, where it enjoys DOCG status.

 

Ayama's Vermentino comes in a handsome bottle adorned with a label patterned following those made by the must during fermentation. Michela thinks these, in turn, resulted from the classical music tht serenaded the wine in the cellar during this important period. This Single Vineyard maiden vintage started life after harvest in February last year, and spent time in older oak until April this year when bottling took place.

It's an intriguing wine, quite difficult to define: firstly it is distinctly different from local whites,. I detected floral notes and pear aromas on the nose, along with the first hint of minerality. On the palate a little oiliness, similar to some semillon, allied to an elegant mix of citrus backed by flint.  The almond that I  learned is characteristic did not come through to me nor did the bitterness at the finish, but  there was a defnite briskness.  I savoured this complex and fascinating wine and have been thinking about what to pair it with - perhaps stuffed courgette flowers or fritto misto di mare?  Or what about Pollo all Diavola? Perhaps the Dalpiaz couple will suggest further recommended Italian favourites...

Ayama produced a limited edition that includes a few bottles containing 1, 1,5, 3 and even 5 litres. Find out more from their website or call the farm 0n 021 869 8313

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Cannot remember ever being disappointed in a bottle from Rickety Bridge over the last several years. Cellarmaster Wynand Grobler recently released the new vintages of his intriguing Mediterranean-style blends, a voguish and captivating range named The Foundation Stone and sporting labels as trendy as the contents of the bottles.

 Previous vintages  have attracted a steady list of  awards from local competitions as well as from UK’s Tim Atkin and the Far East. Each year the blends evolve as Grobler tweaks varietals and quantities, and  brings in grapes from regions other than Franschhoek.

The Foundation Stone Rosé 2017 offers just what most discerning  winelovers expect in current pinks: this blend of 48% Grenache Noir with 34% Shiraz, 15% Mourvèdre and a splash of Viognier presents Provencal-style wine that’s dry, fresh, and full of berry flavours . Grobler matured just 10% in small French oak, which adds a little spice to a summer wine for every al fresco occasion. Selling at around R80.

Tops of the trio for me is The Foundation Stone White 2016, a Chenin-led (46%) meld with 22% Roussanne, 18% Grenache Blanc, 11% Viognier and a splash of Nouvelle – unusual add-on. The components spent 10 months in separate barrels before blending, which has help to produce a delicious wine, restrained blossom and stone fruit on the nose, presenting rich, well-balanced flavours on the palate, that can be enjoyed as an aperitif, but will come into its own with gourmet poultry dishes, and some Asian creations. Selling for around R100.

The Foundation Stone Red 2014 is comprised of grapes sourced from Franschhoek, Swartland and the Breede river, consisting of 41% Shiraz, 25% Mourvèdre, 23%Grenache Noir. 6% Cinsaut and 5% Tannat. An interesting mix and a fascinating wine, barrel-matured for 18 months ahead of blending. Along with berry flavours, pepper and tobacco is present on the nose, and layers of flavour follow one another on the palate. Enjoyable already, but could impress further after a couple of years’ cellaring. This will make a fine companion to any red meat, along with ostrich dishes. Selling for around R100.

Hopefuly  these will be available for tasting at the forthcoming Franschhoek Uncorked fest in mid-September. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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There can be few landscapes more evocative of the rural Cape than that of Val du Charron – the iconic gabled farmstead, the whitewashed ringmuur, orchards and vines all set in an exquisite valley edged with mountain ranges.

Nicely named to encompass Wellington’s earlier name - Valley of the Wagonmakers -  while adding a Gallic tribute to the Huguenot founders, the beautiful 45ha Val du Charron is in the Bovlei,  in itself a district worth visiting for beauty, history, hospitality and good wine.

Just over a decade ago the Entwistle family bought the neglected fruit farm, first registered at the close of the 17th century, and set about restoring it. Once again English settlers have joined Afrikaners in this region, confirming a pattern that has been developing over the last few decades with beneficial, even synergetic,  results.

 

Val du Charron is today a renowned destination offering a choice of luxurious accommodation, fine fare and some fascinating wines. The farm acquired estate status some five years ago and today  produces two wine ranges, the Val du Charron Reserve, comprising chardonnay, pinot gris, shiraz and  cab, while their Theatre of Wine presents a trio of blends.

Catherine Entwistle sent me a pair of blends, plus the 2017 pinot gris from the reserve range.  Pinot Gris is an uncommon cultivar at the Cape, consisting of just .35% of the Cape vineyard area. I have found some previous examples rather characterless, so was keen to see what Bovlei terroir produced. This one is pleasing without overwhelming, crisp and fresh,  offering sufficient fruit, both citrus and melon, along with  discernible structure and with moderate 13% alcohol levels. A portion of the harvest from the eight-year-old vines was barrel fermented which no doubt helps account for fullness and good mouthfeel. Cellar door price is R89.

 My favourite wines of the moment are chenin-led blends, so it did not take me long to unscrew Four White Legs, a 2015 vintage comprising 38% chenin blanc, 28% pinot gris, 18% roussanne and 16% viognier. In a word – delicious! From its complex nose combining stone fruit with vanilla to wafts of flavour on the palate, fruit, cream  and honey, full-bodied but retaining freshness.  Fourie harvested the components over two and half months, and matured a portion of each in French oak, mostly second fill, for eight months. Alcohol levels at 14% are a little high for today’s tastes, but at R59 from the farm, I certainly would not let that detract me from a great buy.

This is also a chenin blend with a delightful  story behind its unusual name which is  spelled out on the back label  - suffice it to reveal that the four legs are those of a horse.

The tale behind the Black Countess red blend is also printed on the back label – this involves a British remittance man from Wellington  who met the daughter of a freed slave in the Northern Cape. The couple settled in Wellington and in 1883 the man, Harry Grey inherited the title of Earl of Stamford and his wife became the Countess. They stayed in this country, undertaking the building of schools and uplifting the poor.

The wine is a shiraz-led blend finished with 21% mourvèdre and 5% grenache. Medium-bodied, well-rounded with berry flavours alongside some herbiness, the oak adding a dash of vanilla.  French and American oak were used for 12 months maturation. Alcohol levels just over 14% and the farm price is R99.

Val du Charron also produces a merlot, malbec and other red blends.

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A BITE OF LATIN AMERICA by Susie Chatz-Anderson. Published by Human& Rousseau, Cape Town, 2017.

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A collection delectable in every aspect, and one that fills a gap in culinary literature as well. There has been little in the way of comprehensive cookbooks covering Latin America on our bookshop shelves for years, and none, as far as I know, written by a local..

Now we have Susie’s delightful gastronimic diary , a very readable account of the year she and husband  Mike spent travelling through Mexico and South America, in a quest for the best taste trips. Or rather that’s what she wanted, while he  spent the time hunting down the best kite-surfing sites.

They resigned their office jobs, stored their possessions and bought two air tickets, waving goodbye to Susie’s mother who, we are told, feared for her daughter’s life every day!

In choosing Latin America, they embraced cuisines where Maya, Aztec, Inca, Spanish and Portuguese contributions mix and meld, followed by more recent influence from Africa, Caribbean, Asia and Europe.

Mexico was the first destination, and a good choice seeing that their fare is rated as one of the finest peasant cuisines in the world. They found more meat in the north, seafood at the coast, spicy vegetable and chicken in the south.  Favourite Mexican meals were breakfasts, which included rice, beans and avocado with their morning eggs. Her chorizo omelette is a dish that’s perfect for a winter brunch, and tortilla-wrapped fish with salsas is  an appetising informal lunch suggestion. Gorditas – corn pockets with saucy fillings – make a great alternative to pitas,  add some Margaritas and you have an easy way to feed guests.

They headed south to, Guatemala,  a country whose cuisine is not well-pubicised. Plantains, rice and beans and salads are featured, while Nicaraguan more pork chops -  well laced with rum and finished with cream and green peppercorns  - are starred along with a saucy chicken pie that looks worth a try. I also like the Atolillo, described as a chilled rum custard, and it reminds me of melktert filling garnished with boozy sultanas.

More rice with beans, this time cooked in coconut milk, from Costa Rica and a similar version, without the beans, sweetened  and spiked, for dessert. From Columbia, chilli salsas,  Spanish-style omelettes and green apple and mint lemonade. On to Ecuador, where our adventurous couple savoured prawns ceviche and a potato and peanut stew with tofu and discovered countless varieties of Andean potatoes.

The author’s description of places and people in Peru are fascinating, the cuisine – indigenous dishes of Inca origin touched by Spanish influence, equally so. Her version of Causa  Limena illustrates this well – Peruvian potato, avocado, tomato and tuna layered stack – and makes a summery lunch.  For wintry days, their vegetable and quinoa soup  makes a colourful and nutritious meal. Husband  Mike’s favourite dish was Peru’s signature beef stir-fry, Lomo Saltado.

By way of contrast, the sophistication and diversity of Brazil’s fare was absorbed and relished  with delight. Recipes include cheese bites,prawn pie,upside-down banana cake (a breakfast special)  and Caipirinha, the  country’s signature cocktail.

From their final destination, Argentina,  Susie brought home recipes for Empanadas (beef and onion pies), a leek, sage and bacon bake, layered vegetable  tart,  the famous Chimichurri salsa and the Argentinian version of Dulce de Leche, caramel which is used in cakes, puds and cookies such as Alfajores, recipe given. The recipes finish with some good coffees, followed by a detailed index. Susie’s great travel photos add much interest, while the food shots are sumptuous, and beautifully styled.

What’s really appealing is the way the author suggests substitutes for exotic ingredients and alternatives and additions to the original dishes. Just the sort of helpful advice that every cook, beginner and experienced, appreciates. That and a down-to-earth modesty, an attractive trait that is by no means guaranteed in current cookbook-cum-diaries.

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A host of countrywide events in the Cape, Free State and Gauteng offer wonderful wines paired with companionable snacks. The events are chronologically arranged,  followed by  a few tempting winter wineland dining options .

 

 

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FREE STATE WINE SHOW IN BLOEMFONTEIN

 

The fifth Free State Wine Show takes place on Thursday and Friday August 3 -4 at Emoya hotel and conference centre in Bloemfontein. Visitors will find a choice selection of the Cape’s best, from bubblies to whites to reds to Cape ports and fine brandies. About 40 exhibitors will be pouring their best and the full list can be found at www.freestatewineshow.co.za. Tickets can be bought through Computicket and other outlets.  The show takes place from 18h00 to 21h00. Tickets cost R160 online until July 30 after that the price is R190 online and at the door. For more info, call 011 482 5936

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ROBERTSON SLOW FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL: 4-6 AUGUST 

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Robertson’s annual Slow Food and Wine festival attracts repeat visitors year on year who savour not only the  hospitable Robertson Wine Valley with its warm heart and fine wines, but a festival where wine farms offer personal itineraries that range from fireside tastings and hearty suppers to picnics and platters, underground cellar tours, game drives, horse-riding and slow cruising down the Breede river.

The Sunday Family Market on Klipdrift farm on August 6 from 10am is a finale worth staying on for . The setting, the produce, the ambience add up to a delicious slice of country life. Entrance is free, and  children are well catered for.

Look through the website programme and make your bookings – don’t leave this too late as some events are already fully booked.  See www.robertsonslow.com. And call 023 626 3167 for more info.

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Another perennial favourite to diarise: Wine Concepts will host their 5th Seductive Sauvignons Festival at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands on Friday August 18 from 17h00. Taste a fine selection of recently released sauvignon blancs along with current cabernet sauvignons from more than 40 of South Africa’s top producers. Bubblies, rosés and dessert wines will be included to add delicious diversity, and moreish snacks will be offered throughout the event.

All wines showcased will be available at special prices during the show.Tickets cost R200 from www.webtickets.co.za, or at any of the Wine Concepts branches. Telephone Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401 or at the door on the evening, subject to availability.Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za.

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THE CRADLE OF FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

 

 

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Gauteng winelovers have a new festival to contemplate and it has the makings of an annual must-do. The Cradle Boutique hotel and leading wine outlet Wine Menu have joined forces to host an event, which marks August as women’s month by featuring the products of 10 estates where women star as both winemakers and creators of fine boutique gins.

The premium wines on show include those by Catherine Marshal (Elgin); Swartland’s Huis van Chevallerie (winemaker Christa von La Chevallerie) and Kloovenburg (winemaker Jolandie Fouché); Stellenbosch’s Haskell (winemaker Rianie Strydom); Franschhoek’s La Bri (winemaker Irene Waller); Greyton’s Lismore (owner and winemaker Samantha O'Keefe) and Waterkloof wine estate in Somerset West (Nadia Barnard).
 
Also at the show will be Callan Williams who will present her lauded handcrafted wine brand The Garajeest and Carla Pauw from Stellenbosch who will show both her Saltare wines and olive oils.
  
Taking place on Saturday August 19 at the Cradle hotel from 11am to 4pm, families are welcome, although only those over 18 will be sampling the wine and gins. The Cradle Explorers Club will have a guide on hand to take children for a two-hour nature walk at R80 per child, which includes a picnic. The hotel is at Kromdraai road, Cradle of Humankind.

Adults can opt to buy a picnic hamper after the tastings, or book for lunch at the hotel. Festival entrance costs R75, under 18’s go in free.

 

 

 

HARTENBERG WINE ESTATE WARMS WINTER WITH ITS SOUL FOOD

 

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Heart and tummy-warming soul food is on the winter menu at this hospitable estate, from classic farm-style soups with farm bread, to the Hartenberg hamburger with chunky fries. There's a Vintners Platter to share, Banting options, vegetarian choices, and, of course the estate fine wines to complement your meal.  Open for lunch from Mon - Sat from noon, booking advisable. Call 021 865 2541 or e-mail info@hartenbergestate.com.

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 Winter Classics at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

 

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Winter feasting at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel’s Planet restaurant

 involves a  a menu of hearty, traditional and classic dishes. Modern mezze, antipasti and fritto misto make starters, or opt for Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s famous South African Cheese Fondue.

There's a Valrhona chocolate fondue as well, silky indulgence at R365 for two.

For mains, there's  Laingsburg lamb neck, linefish, grilled chicken breast and tortellini or mushroom risotto. The Winter Feast Special costs R325 per person. In addition, classic Beef Wellington - albeit with a twist - is back, presenting another sustaining option. 

 

For more info or to make  a reservation, please phone 021 483-1000 or e-mail: restaurantreservations.mnh@belmond.com

 

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It’s not only the Orange River winemakers that are notching up praise – and medals – for their wines, but there are now a couple of fine craft beers flowing out of Upington, that can take on any of the others being produced in various South African provinces.

Early this year Kalahari Craft Beer was launched in Upington, one of the first from that arid region. Playing on the desert theme, founder Renier Baard chose to name his creations after animals that cope particularly well with the hot dry climate: so there is a Gemsbok Lager and a Puffadder Weiss, both 440ml bottles retailing for around R23,50.

They share alcohol levels of 5% and taste great to me, but then I am no expert on beer. So I got keen beer drinkers to try them, and the result was what I expected – these are fine examples of the burgeoning craft beer industry, and you definitely don’t need to be in the Kalahari to enjoy them.

To order or to find your nearest stockist, log on to www.kalaharicraft.co.za  or contact Renier on 072 827 0009. I predict we are going to see a great deal more of these attractive bottles across the country this summer.

Here’s to the Kalahari, both the dry land and its excellent wet beer!

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