Allesverloren landscape

Haskell vineyards on the Helderberg.

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Posted by on in Blog

 

Last year the Griers decided that their venerable bush vine (unirrigated) sauvignon blanc vineyard, renowned for  berries that produce an unique, intense wine, was worthy of special treatment. Barrel maturation would allow the intensity to feature, while the trendy egg-shaped tank would be used for partial skin fermentation. French oak – half new wood, half old – was used to complete fermentation, and batonage occurred weekly. The wine was stabilised and bottled after three months.

The result – Villiera Bush vine Blanc Fumé 2016 - a delicious wine that b2ap3_thumbnail_Villiera-Bush-Vine-Blanc-Fume-2016.jpgfascinates while it impresses: Harking back to the era when blanc fumes were much in vogue, yet presenting a thoroughly modern version, where frisky freshness nicely complements the structure and figgy and green notes are mellowed by gentle oaking.  It is certain to age with grace and should partner a range of white meat dishes and autumnal vegetarian combos with panache, including various fungi.  Alcohol levels of 13% and residual sugar of 2,5g/l are, I  am sure, accompanied by a minimal use of sulphites as I experienced no problem in relishing it. It sells for R144 and is pithily described by Jeff Grier as “Grown on old bush vine vineyards. Hatched from an egg. Matured in a barrel.”

 

What other updates from this family farm that does much to conserve the environment without being certified organic? Most winelovers know that the cellar is solar-powered and that both the Owethu clinic and The Pebbles Project,  are  centred at  Villiera: these important facilities continue to progress, while the Early Childhood Development Centre has enjoyed a renovation.

 

New additions to the estate, both four- and two-legged include kudu, waterbuck and wildebeest, with game drives in demand at least twice daily in season.

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The two-legged newcomers are a pair of youthful winemakers, being Nathan Valentine, whose childhood in the Stellenbosch winelands led him to complete a BAgric degree at Elsenburg while spending vacations working in the Villiera tasting centre. He followed this with stints at DeMorgenzon and Chandon in California  before returning to Villiera. A vintage at Domaine Grier in southern France preceded his appointment at the home farm.

Nathan will be joined by another member of the Grier family, namely Xander, sonb2ap3_thumbnail_Villiera-Xander-and-Bianca---DG.jpg of David Grier, known to South Africans as an extraordinary adventurer for worthy causes. Xander has already notched up cellar and viticultural experience in Napa Valley, Australia, France, Tasmania and Elgin before returning to the Cape where he worked at Villiera and at la Vierge in the Hemel-en-Aarde.

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We wish them well with their careers at an estate where  visits and vision, value and versatility  feature as major attractions.

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Posted by on in Events

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MED FED

Thoughts of Tuscany are not out of place at this time of the year, as parts of the Cape winelands resemble those Med countries that have inspired some of our finest Cape cuisine.

One such area is the Overberg where olive groves, vines and wheat  fields combine to present rolling hills of contrasting colour to travellers on the N2.

Gabrielskloof goes a step further, tempting visitors to stop and savour one of their Med taster platters, comprising four of their wines and five snacks, with a grape-studded focaccia on the side. Think chorizo and calamari, mini-lamb kofta on tzatzaki, hummus with chickpeas and dolmades and a classic Caprese salad.

Available on Mondays and Wednesdays to Saturdays until the end of May, priced at R250 per couple. For more info contact 028 284 9865 or send an email to info@gabrielskloof.co.za

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CAB FRANC CHALLENGE WINNERS – TAKE YOUR PICK

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Avontuur estate hosted the winners’ function last week, where the second Cab Franc Challenge proved to be a popular contest, entries increasing from 32 to 50 this year with 11 entering the vintage class for older wines.

Cape producers favour diverse styles which complicates judging but the vintage class proved easier, with a single clear winner. The judging panel liked those offering dusty road characteristics and those with minerality, while typical cab francs featuring red berry on the palate and aromas of violets were also encountered.

Wines were tasted blind and independently audited by Moore Stephens

The Top Six, in alphabetical order, are Doolhof estate Single Vineyard Collection 2015, Kaapzicht 2014, My Wyn 2014, Nelson estate Lisah Nelson 2014, Rainbow’s End estate 2015 and Warwick 2013.

The Vintage winners is Holden Manz estate 2012.  For gold medal winners, visit www.cvomarketing.co.za

The Top Six can be bought from Wine-of-the-Month Club for R1890 and they will deliver to your door.

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Posted by on in Events

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Every winelover  should experience at least one weekend end-of-harvest fest. Eikendal's is celebrating its finish and farewell to sleepless nights and long days on Sunday March 5 with its popular Weintaufe carnival. The usual ingredients - fine wine, scrumptious street-style fare, live music and lucky draws are all on the menu, and this year the star of the show is Eikendal chardonnay, which will be crowned as the first wine of the new vintage. 

Visitors can sample this straight from the barrel after its baptism by cellarmaster Nico Grobler, while Italian specialities are top temptations in the restaurant. Stomping, golfing, and tractor rides can all be enjoyed and there's plenty to keep the small fry absorbed and amused.

Buy your ticket at the gate for R80 a head which includes glass, barrel tasting and entertainment. Under 18s go in free. Gates open at 10am. For more info, contact 021 8551422 or email info@eikendal.co.za

 

 

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Posted by on in Books

 

DISTRICT SIX HUIS KOMBUIS: Food & Memory Cookbook. Published by Quivertree Publications , Cape Town, 2016.

 

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It is surely the ultimate District Six title, in terms of lifestyle, tradition, recollection and restoration.

From the feel of the linen-like cover, through endpapers filled with fragments of crockery -   willow-pattern plates and cups with no ears – to  Cloete Breytenbach’s heart-wrenching photographs of before and after demolition, this hardback has been designed not only to inspire memories but  to celebrate an indomitable spirit of survival while recording the vital role that the table played – and still plays – in family lives.  As Shaun Viljoen comments in his introduction, “...the rituals of making and eating food... did not die or disappear when people were forced to move to far-flung areas but instead took root in these new locations on the Cape Flats.”

Some 10 years ago the District Six Museum started the Huis Kombuis project: Memories and stories – centred around  taste, texture and aromas in the District - were collected to form the heart of this unique book. The museum had started its project with craft and textile design workshops which developed into an interdiscliplinary base for reflection, remembrance and innovation. Name-cloths that are inscribed with embroidered messages, recipes and signatures stimulated links between craft and culinary heritage , which in turn led to the concept of this book.

The rituals of cooking, eating, the place of the table in the kitchen, are all central to the collective memory of District Six, part of the spirit of place and sense of belonging.  Not always inside: “The excitement of camping out on the pavement with “salmon slaai and boiled eggs in anticipation of the klopse passing by” is a new year tradition, still  maintained by those who trek into the city from their windswept dormitories on the Flats .

A gallery of quite formal portraits of former residents introduces us to the contributors of  memories and recipes. Two foldout maps of the area help readers with a sense of place: The 1940 map indicates where each family lived, along with landmark schools and churches. The second street map marks the shops, produce  markets, cafes, butchers and bakers, herb and spice suppliers, with the Grand Parade just visible on the district edge.

The meat, as it were,  of the book follows, starting with Monday which saw Sunday leftovers or fresh fish on the table. It may have been bought on tick – to be paid for on Friday – but what a wealth of seafood was on offer –  snoek, stockfish [hake],  crayfish, harders, maasbankers, hottentot, red roman, white stumpnose, geelbek and kabeljou.

We meet Marion Abrahams-Welsh, Linda Fortune, Ruth Jeftha:  a contemporary photograph accompanies their stories of childhood in the district, and memories of Monday meals reveals traditions of cottage pie from Marion,  followed by sago pudding, while Linda’s family Monday favourites were  brawn and  her father’s crayfish curry, well spiced .  The recipes are easy to follow, the food photographs appetising.  Ruth’s family relished her mother’s fish cakes and fish smoortjies, made with canned pilchards for supper.

Her mother was one of the last to leave her home in Bloemhof flats, a landmark in District Six. She lived without electricity and water towards the end and died a few days after being moved to Mitchells Plain.

Subsequent chapters follow a similar pattern, with titles like ‘Stretching the pot’, ‘Niks het geflop nie’,’ We ate soup’, ‘Nothing went wasted’, ‘Friday the pans were screaming’...  Along with savoury suppers, which often featured  bredies, sweeter fare starred, proven with recipes for date and walnut loaf and tameletjie from a male baker.  The women set jelly outside to set, to be served with custard or baked melktert as Sunday lunch finales, then went to to rustle up scones with apricot jam for afternoon tea. This well-balanced treasury of  Kaapse kos sees substantial input from Cape Malay, Afrikaner, British and Jewish cuisines. Plus a soup¢on of Portuguese, and  foraging influence from the San and Khoe who criss-crossed the slopes and shores above and below in previous centuries. The illustrated  recipes take their place as an integral segment of an infamous period of Cape history, but are not its raison d’ȇtre.

 Other images add to the culinary nostalgia:  Black and white family photographs, plus streetscapes , people and markets,  double decker buses and handcarts. Buildings lining  Hanover street with balconies and washing lines and those  distinctive splayed corners. Below, Morris minors and Volksie beetles...

The painfully slow re-creation of District Six seems synonomous with the fact that traditional values are being replaced by a greedy capitalism, as the gap between the wealthy and destitute in the Mother City gets ever wider.

Last word goes to the late Vincent Kolbe, one of the Museum founders and a former colleague of mine at City Libraries . When he wasn’t telling stories, he was making music (which included a party trick of playing the piano with his back to the instrument and his arms stretched back  over his shoulders)  or encouraging small children to read and revere books. Of the Huis Kombuis project he said “We created an arena which enables us to reaffirm our identity, celebrate our heritage and confront the complexities of our history.”  A fitting tribute to an impressive example of teamwork.

 

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Hanover Street, heart of District Six.

 

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Posted by on in Events

    

GROOTE POST’S COUNTRY MARKET

SUNDAY 26 FEBRUARY 10am – 3pm

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As summer fades into an early autumn, the West Coast comes into its own. Less wind, more balmy days, and – at Groote Post – another of their monthly country markets. Not only a beautiful farm in the Darling  Hills, but one steeped in history and which  offers warm hospitality.

Making a Sunday of it is an enjoyable pastime – and the family dogs think so too, as they are welcome provided they are on a leash.

 

As usual, the market offers a wealth of artisanal fare, art and crafts, and the farm’s value- for -money wines. Try the rosé which is exclusive to market visitors, and an ideal picnic partner. Craft beer is also onthe menu, so, once you have picked up your lunch items, chosen your wine and/or beer, head to a shady spot to relax and dine well. Stock up on breads, cheeses, wors and olive oil to take home.  Diarise March 26 for the next one, if you cannot make it this weekend. As always, entrance is free. The last market of the summer season is scheduled for April 30.

And, if you follow the KLINK awards, you may wish to vote for Groote Post’s appetising country markets in the Events & Festivals category.

See www.winetourismsouthafrica.co.za for more info.  If you need more info on Groote Post or its market, email eldre@loveyzer.co.za or contact her on 082 877 667.

Find them on Facebook  www.facebook.com/GrootePostCountryMarket.

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 MARCH INTO APRIL

 

 

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The third Chenin Blanc and Pinotage Celebration, hosted by Wine concepts, takes place on March 24 at the Vineyard Hotel this year for the first time.

Hugely popular and justifiably so, this is a Local is Lekker fest where guests can sample about 40 of the Cape’s divese chenins and pinotages from the top producers. These include bubblies, roses and dessert wines produced from these grapes. This year both chenin-based and pinotage-based blends are included in the mix. All wines on show will be on sale at special prices for the evening.

Venue: The Vineyard Hotel, Colinton Road, Newlands

Date: Friday 24th March 2017

Time: 17h00 – 20h00

Cost: R200.00 per person – includes wine glass, tastings and light snacks

Tickets can conveniently be purchased via 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

Email: admin@wineconcepts.co.za

or at the door on the evening subject to availability

http://www.wineconcepts.co.za


   


FNB EASTERN CAPE WINE SHOW – EAST LONDON

The third FNB Eastern Cape Wine Show once again takes place at Hemingways in East London on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March.  Visitors can sample a wonderful selection of whites, reds, Cape ports and fine brandies. Along with many of the previous exhibitors, new names on show include Diemersfontein and Valdo Prosecco. The wines presented will be on sale at the shop@Show stand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Dates:        Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March 2017

Venue:       The Venue at corner Western Avenue and Two Rivers Drive, East London

Time:         17h00 to 21h00

Ticket Prices:  R170 per night (includes unlimited tastings, wine tasting glass and wine show guide). 

Refreshments: Light meals will be on sale.

Queries: 011 482 5936/5/4

Website: www.easterncapewineshow-el.co.za

Tickets: Ticket sales are open and can be purchased at one of the following options

  • Online www.computicket.com
  • Money Market counters in Shoprite Checkers stores
  • At the door (subject to availability)

The FNB regional wine show programme, directed by wine authority Michael Fridjhon and presented by OutSorceress Marketing, is continued with the eighth FNB Mpumalanga Wine Show in Nelspruit on 6 and 7 April, followed by the fifth FNB Free State Wine Show on 3 and 4 August and concluded with the third FNB Eastern Cape Wine Show – Port Elizabeth on 23 and 24 November. For more information for all these wine shows visit www.outsorceress.co.za.

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Bonhomie and Beards at Bot River

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The Barrels & Beards bash takes place on 22 April 2017, a harvest celebration in this lovelyrural valley, which houses exciting cellars.

 

The Barrels and Beards party includes a sumptuous dinner and tastings of the new vintages from barrel. The venue is the hilly grounds of Barton Vineyards and the event includes an auction of rare and special wines, proceeds of which benefit the children of the area.

Producers taking part are Anysbos, Barton, Beaumont Family Wines, Gabriëlskloof, Genevieve MCC, Goedvertrouw Wine Estate, Luddite Wines, Maremmana Estate, Momento Wines, Paardenkloof Estate, Rivendell Estate, Villion Family Wines and Wildekrans Boutique Wine Estate.

The beards develop as winemakers don’t have time to shave during harvest, and this hairy feature has developed into a tradition at Bot river  and a winner is chosen at the fest, judged to possess the Best Bot Beard.

The 2017 Bot River Barrels & Beards showcase takes place on  2017 at 5pm and tickets are availalbe at R450 per adult. Get your tickets at www.quicket.co.za For enquiries and pre-bookings contact Wilmari Geyer, email: info@bartonvineyards.co.za and mobile: 084 231 8930.

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Posted by on in Blog

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Early harvesting seems to have contributed  favourably to the fresh brilliance of the 2015 chardonnays, in the Stellenbosch regions at any rate.  .... just one of many  factors in the makeup of a vintage of champion chards. Right now I confess to choosing them over chenin, a preference which  induces a pang of short-lived guilt...

 

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Over the festive season we savoured every drop of the Neil Ellis Whitehall chardonnay 2015, its Elgin label acknowledging the source of cool-climate grapes

 from a south-facing vineyard in that highland valley. This is a s single vineyard maiden release in the Terrain Specific range, one whose vines have provided Neil Ellis with distinctive chardonnay since the early 1990’s.

Great credit to winemaker-cum-viticulturist and son Warren Ellis for transforming them into a wine that presents a broad palette of  intense appeal: Freshness and elegance meld effortlessly to accompany wafts of citrus. Integral oaking harmonises with Elgin minerality, a hint of richness is restrained even as it’s evident.  Moderate alcohol levels of 13,5% complement this  very impressive Cape chardonnay with more than a nod to its native Burgundy. Make sure the meal is up to accompanying it (or following it, if sipped as a classy aperitif) .

 

As February heat subsided to bearable levels, chilled Eikendal chardonnay 2015 b2ap3_thumbnail_Eikendal-Chardonnay-2015-pack-shot-LR-2.jpgwas opened with care. From the Somerset West cellar whose predecessor, the 2014, was judged overall champion of the Prescient Chardonnay Report, the new release is set to equal or overtake with little difficulty.  Cellarmaster Nico Grobler harvested early in January, and that decision clearly contributes to the purity and freshness evident, while the combo of four clones, cultivated and then vinified in different ways, adds complexity to the wine, most of which matured in untoasted French oak. There’s citrus on the palate, some mineral backbone and the knowledge that this is going to get better over several years is another given. Alcohol levels held at 13% is another factor in its favour. At R155 from cellar door it offers superb value for money.

 

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Posted by on in Events

ROBERTSON WINE VALLEY – THE DESTINATION THAT LIVES UP TO EVERY EXPECTATION

 

 

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It’s  a beguiling valley, beautiful, spacious, offering compelling reasons as to why visitors should taste its lifestyle, Pretty towns and magnificent farms offer a broad palette, bisected by the iconic Breede river that winds placidly through the countryside. The Langeberge frame the eastern aspect, the Sonderend mountains ripple coastwards and local hills rear up to add diversity to the landscape.

The valley’s delicous wines, fine country fare, famous stud farms and rose-strewn gardens are renowned.  Even more important is the widespread hospitality which is allied to a down-to-earth disposition that is characteristic of most valley dwellers. Locals welcome travellers with warmth, make sure they are happy, and combine quality service and products with value for money. What more could anyone expect?

Now with harvest in full swing across the wine regions of the Western Cape, Robertson farms and cellars make time to slow the pace, to offer visitors cellar and vineyard tours, tastings and more:

The 2017 Hands-on Harvest is scheduled for the second weekend of March: From Friday 10 – Sunday 12  when more than 20 venues are offering an appetising range of activities.

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 Take part in harvesting, from picking and stomping to blending and tasting. Adrenalin junkies can also take to sky-diving and rock climbing, hiking and biking, cruising and boules. Those who favour more leisurely pursuits can focus on venues for  brunch or lunch, take in tastings casual or tutored, sample wines from garagiste through boutique to the vintages from giant cellars with endless rows of steel tanks. Groups can be as intimate as four or up to 30 – choose your preference.

Add a visit to a small distillery for sampling world-class grappa and eaux de vie, and make sure you don’t leave the valley without visiting the first Harvest b2ap3_thumbnail_hoh-1.jpgFamily Market: This takes place on the Breede river banks at Viljoensdrift, on Sunday March 12 from 10am, offering the perfect finale to a rustic weekend.  All ages are catered for, and the range of country goodies will be mouthwatering. Entrance is free and the setting is soul-soothing.

Among items worth hunting down are wholewheat rusks, excellent melktert, apricot jam and seasonal preserves, freshly harvested pecans and boerseep.

It all adds up to a fruity fiesta that should see city-dwellers go home happy and relaxed, carboots filled with fine wine and goodies from many a farm and village kitchen.

It makes sense to plan your weekend in advance: log onto b2ap3_thumbnail_hoh5.jpgwww.handsonharvest.com and work out your itinerary, booking with the relevant farms at least three days ahead. Any other questions will be answered by the staff at the Robertson  Wine Tourism office – contact them on 023 626 3167 or send an email to events@robertsonwinevalley.com.

For accommodation, contact the following tourism offices:

Mcgregor: 023 625 1954 info@tourismmcgregor.co.za

Montagu/Ashton: 023 614 2471.

Robertson: 023 626 4437 info@robertson.org.za

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 See you there and don’t forget the sunblock, hats, and sensible shoes – give the stilettos the weekend off.

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Posted by on in Recipes

It’s not only brinjals that have three names, I discovered recently, witlof can boast of four – as this intriguing head of tight creamy leaves is also known as chicory, witloof and Belgian endive.

Appropriately, we were gathered at Den Anker, that classic Belgian restaurant at b2ap3_thumbnail_Fanie-van-der-Merwe-standing_20170207-153515_1.jpgthe Waterfront, for the launch of this healthy addition to our summer diets. The media turnout was impressive, and Brian Berkman looked pleased. Farmer and producer Fanie van der Merwe of Bronaar, one of the oldest farms in the Koue Bokkeveld, was more than happy to tell us the secrets of this versatile vegetable that has been popular with northern European consumers for some 170 years.

As one of the few South African producesr, and as one who guarantees a continuous supply 12 months of the year, Farmer Fanie imports the little seeds from Holland at great expense, plants them  outside in the spring, and harvests in the autumn when the plant has developed a large tap root, similar to a parsnip. This is cleaned and refrigerated. The next stage is carried out in the dark, to avoid the development of chlorophyll. The roots are planted in soil-free hydroponics and the head of creamy leaves develops over three weeks, after which the chicons ( leaves) are harvested.

The endives are packaged 2 – 3 to a see-through bag and are available at several supermarkets.

We enjoyed a starter of tiny shrimps paired with crisp apple, shredded witlof, tomato, moistened with mayonnaise. The mix was served in a witlof or endive leaf, which makes an ideal container for any number of  summery salad ingredients – corn kernels and diced red pepper dressed with lightly chillied olive oil comes to mind. Add diced bacon if you wish.

Chef Doekie Vlietman followed with a seasonal salad geared to vegetarian palates, but enjoyed by all: He combined little balls of chevin, crumbed and deep-fried until crisp, with small wedges of fresh pear, briefly sautéed in butter. Finely chopped endive, baby lettuce and micro greens added crunch to the mixture, and crushed walnuts made a good topping. The composition was drizzled with a little honey and paired with a fruity Belgian beer.  It’s a light luncheon dish to recommend, although I will substitute fresh local pecan nuts for walnuts, (which are imported and often tired and old by the time we use them). A Belgian classic, endives wrapped in Parma ham and baked in a rich cheese sauce made the main course.

Apart from agreeable crunch, endives are delicately flavoured, with just a trace of bitterness to add interest. (The current endives seem to be less bitter than those I remember eating years ago – perhaps catering to modern tastes?) Their attributes are many and music to health- nuts’ ears: Apart from being  low in carbs, the witlof is high in fibre, and contains folate or B9, some vitamin C, and is also a source of thiamin, potassium, calcium , magnesium, vitamins B6 and C. There’s more – its both an appetite stimulant and a digestive aid.

Little wonder the Belgians call it their “white gold.”

Also easy to understand why Fanie would like all South Africans, whether health-conscious, slimmers, vegans or vegetarians, - and all those who aim to make 2017 the year they change their diets for the better – to look out for these packs of crisp goodness to relish raw, sautéed and baked. Autumn means picnic season in South Africa – and it would be difficult to find a better edible container for your finger fare.

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A couple of weather gurus have predicted an early autumn here on the fringe of the Klein Karoo. Whether this will extend to the Boland and Overberg, who knows? But if it does, it makes visiting these wine regions all the more inviting. There's a Gauteng fest in the lineup as well.

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Diarise Saturday Feb 18 for a feast of fun at one of our most iconic estates. Join the Melck family at Muratie for a day that can be as active (mountain biking, stomping grapes) or leisurely as you wish. Taste the Muratie wines in the old cellar, or enjoy a private tasting at 12 noon. Settle for an alfresco lunch from the Farm Kitchen that includes gourmet burgers, salmon sarmies, spring rolls, a cheese platter and more. Kitchen Jammin Blues will provide the musical background. Entry costs R75 a head.

For further information and bookings contact Jean-Mari Reyneke at Muratie on 021 865 2330/2336 or taste@muratie.co.za

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Savour the spirit of the Gin & Tonic Festival

 

 

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Sunday February 26 sees the  Gin & Tonic Festival return to Cape Town showcasing over 15 local and international gin distilleries at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Taste, swirl and celebrate!

Visitors can look forward to festival regulars such as Bloedlemoen, Ginifer, Hope on Hopkins, Inverroche, New Harbour, Wilderer and a host of exciting new players in the local market. Internationally revered brands like The Botanist, Sipsmith and Elephant Gin will also showcase their craft, 

Some of the city’s finest food trucks and gourmet street food chefs will offer gastronomic goodness to festivalgoers. In addition, a summer-inspired designer’s market will feature the brightest in locally made fashion, lifestyle and accessory goods.  Local artists will entertain the crowds at dedicated music stages. Guests
will receive a 16 page gin booklet, a host of promotional vouchers and goodies from our festival partners, and a branded Gin and Tonic Festival glass.

 Join The Gin Revolution:  visit the website: http://ginandtonicfestival.co.za/

Book your tickets: 
http://www.quicket.co.za/events/24893-gin-and-tonic-festival-biscuit-mill-cape-town/#/

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 DINNER WITH THE WINEMAKER AT LANZERAC

 

 

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These occasional gourmet evenings offer a tasty marriage between the considerable talents of executive chef Stephen Fraser and cellarmaster Wynand Lategan. The first of the 2017 events takes place on Tuesday, March 28 when diners will gather for a welcome drink and canapes on the picnic terrace before visiting the underground cellar to taste new vintages from the barrel. The dinner menu will include a first course of prawn pannacotta and Parma ham mousse, will go on to noisette of lamb, all partnered by new releases from the wine menu along with current favourites like chardonnay and pinotage. Lanzerac's cap classique brut will make a fine finale to complement dessert. This will be an intimate affair of just 30 guests, costs R550  a head, all inclusive, and bookings must be made with Zelda Furstenburg on winesales@lanzerac.co.za or by calling 021 886 5641.

Further seasonal dinners are planned for July and September.

 

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 START YOUR WEEKEND OFF ON A SPARKLING NOTE AT BROOKLYN BUBBLES

 

The best South African MCCs and French champagnes with food prepared by an award-winning chef is on the menu for Friday March 3 - Saturday March 4 at Brooklyn Mall. Both top Cape bubblies and renowned French houses will present their products while complementary nibbles like oysters, sushi, charcuteries and cheeses will accompany the sparkles, finishing with churros and mini-donuts for finales

 

Tickets to the VIP event on the Friday are R600 per person and include a welcome glass of bubbly, 20 bubbly tasting coupons and three food coupons, one of which is for dessert.

 Tickets for the event on Saturday, March 4, cost R300 per person and include a complimentary tasting glass and 15 tasting coupons. Food will also be available for purchase at stalls at the venue. Additional vouchers can be purchased on both days.

Details: 

  Friday, March 3, 2017, from 18h00 to 22h00 & Saturday, March 4, 2017, from 12h00 to 17h00

 Venue: Brooklyn Mall (In a marquee in Bronkhorst Street).

 Booking: www.webtickets.co.za

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Cluver Family Harvest Day | 1 April 2017

 

 

 

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No danger of April Fool jokes popping up at this autumn harvest festival in the heart of the Elgin valley. Paul Cluves Wines makes the venue for this appetising celebration of wine, cider and apples that starts at 11am. 

Leave the car at home and take the train for a memorable day: it will leave Cape Town station at 9am and pick up more passengers at Somerset West,  and on board treats are included.

At the farm children will be supervised and entertained with a programme of old-fashioned games while adults can sample the ciders and wines on offer. Artisanal foods for sale include apple crumble, cheeses, charcuterie  and gourmet sandwiches.

 

The price structure is as follows:

 

Adults

R250 per person

Children under 18           

R100 per child

 

 

Family package 

R550 (2 adults and 2 children)

Return train ticket (excludes festival ticket)

R500 per person (children under 18 travel for free)

 

 Your festival ticket includes entry, a complimentary tasting glass and a booklet of tasting coupons. The children’s ticket includes entry and a harvest party pack. Food and other beverages available on the day are not included in the ticket price.Pre-booking is essential as tickets are limited. Book directly through www.webtickets.co.za.  For more details on what you can expect visit www.cluver.com.

 

 

 

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According to the usually reliable Norwegian forecast, the weather on 

 Valentine's Day will be cool and cloudy in the Boland with a maximum temperature of 20 deg C. Ib2ap3_thumbnail_Rickety-B-Brut-Rose-NV-High-Res.jpgdeal for celebrating the day (and night)  dedicated to love and happiness. There are just so many destinations that are wooing diners to their doors that  both locals and visitors are spoilt for choice. Others may prefer to dine at home, or take a bottle of chilled bubbles to watch a fiery mountian sunset or stroll along a beach as twilight falls.

 

Whatever is on the menu, this is an occasion when a rosé bubbly is most appropriate: Choose one that is brut but not bone dry, that partners both seafood and berry desserts with panache. Given the fact that many consumers are feeling the pinch, look for one that offers good value, while being  both elegant and crisp, along with luscious berry flavours as well. There are several fine Cape sparkles that fulfil these criteria, but - if you haven't yet discovered the joys of Rickety Bridge's Cap Classiques, this is a good time to do so - their non-vintage Brut Rosé, a classic blend of 52% pinot noir with the remainder chardonnay will make an inspired choice. At R145 it is not going to weigh down your credit card either. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_la-petite-ferme1_20170123-131805_1.jpgChardonnay fans will have to visit La Petite Ferme to sample and buy this just-released 2016 chardonnay, but that’s hardly a chore. Take in the changes wrought by the new owners, then sip this impressive wine with its enticing nose offering buttered nuts and citrus followed by a good combo of fruit and well-defined mineral backbone. It’s well-balanced, freshness and body in harmony, the seasonal fruits of the Franschhoek grapes complementing the crisp flint of those from Elim. Also in tune with today’s trends are its 12,5% alcohol levels, while the R200 price tag must amaze visiting connoisseurs from the UK and Europe! It is sure to make an engaging companion for several items on their restaurant’s summer menu as well as an appealing aperitif. Only available from the farm wine shop and restaurant. Visit www.lapetiteferme.co.za for more info. b2ap3_thumbnail_lapetiteferme3.jpg

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FIVE-STAR LUXURY ON DOOLHOF AT THE GRAND DEDALE 

 

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Tucked deep in the Bovlei, one of Wellington’s most scenic and historic regions, Doolhof estate is a farm worth putting on your go-to list if you haven’t yet experienced time there. The land was granted to French Huguenot refugee Jacques Potier as the 17th century drew to a close and he had established a productive farm by his death in 1739.  Doolhof then became Du Toit property, then passed into the Lategan family who diversified into citrus as wine prices dropped dramatically around 1781 - a move that has been duplicated by many a 21st century wine farmer in other Western Cape regions.The quality of Doolhof 

oranges was was much admired by visitor Lady Anne Barnard in 1797.

 

Several more ownership changes were to follow as the 19th and 20th centuries rolled by... Today Doolhof is British-owned, makes three ranges of wine, and offers guests accommodation in a luxurious guesthouse. Horses grazing in paddocks add tranquillity to centuries-old deep-rooted stability – families and livestock come and go, produce and markets  fluctuate and settle, but farms like this emit an air of immutability that is both soothing and inviting.

 

 

In the venerable cellar three ranges are produced: from the Signatures selection, winemaker Beukes  recently released the 2016 sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Both sell at R83 from the cellar door, both are single vineyard wines and they also share pleasing alcohol levels of 12,5%, an asset for the international market in particular. The sauvignon blanc is herbaceous and crisp, ideal for complementing any seafood while the unwooded chardonnay has much to offer those who prefer lighter, crisper chards – in summer, at any rate. There is enough body to balance the various fruity flavours that please the palate without overwhelming it.An enjoyable aperitif, this will make an adaptable companion to salads and poultry, whether at a fine table or a country picnic.

 

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Emily Hobhouse: Beloved Traitor by Elsabe Brits, published by Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2016.

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That this masterful life story is set to become the definitive biography of one of South Africa’s most famous women is not in doubt. Brits has produced an in-depth, scholarly, well-researched work that is also very readable, enlivened with numerous fascinating photographs.  The 27 pages of endnotes, bibliography, index and acknowledgements are good indications of the lengths to which she went to, to do justice to the life and work of this extraordinary pacifist, feminist and deeply compassionate person – who died alone and unsung in her home country.

As the back cover tell us, Brits retraced Hobhouse’s footsteps across three continents, but, as she is the first to acknowledge, it was her exciting discovery of Emily’s great-niece that was the cherry on the top:  Jennifer  Hobhouse Balme invited the author into her home in a fishing village on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island  and shared her treasury of documents, diaries, scrapbooks, letters and photographs, enabling this biography to far transcend any previous attempt to record her life.

Born in 1860 into a Victorian upper-class family Emily grew up in the hamlet of St Ive in Somerset, where she and her sisters were educated at home, which she found frustrating. Her first visit abroad took her to the USA where she experienced love, was jilted by her fiancé, and was back in England in 1899. This was the year the Anglo-Boer War broke out, and Emily became involved in  the SA Conciliation Committee in London, which opposed the war.

 After the OFS and the Transvaal were annexed by Britain thhe Boer forces resorted to guerrilla warfare. The scorched-earth policy instigated by Britain saw farmhouses, barns and outbuildings burnt, farm animals slaughtered, veld set alight, and in some cases whole towns destroyed.  In London and Cornwall  Emily protested in vain about the policy then decided to go to SA to help: she  and started fund-raising to feed clothe and rescue women and children rendered destitute by the war.  Arriving in Cape Town in Dec 1900  she met the governor Lord Milner the governor who granted  permission to visit the concentratios/refugee camps where Boer women were kept provided Kitchener agree, which he did, with conditions. After shopping for clothes, blankets and food she travelled north  in January 1901.

What she found was more distressing than she had imagined – “...truckloads of women and children unsheltered and... flocks and herds of frightened animals bellowing and baaing for food and drink... In the camps exposure, starvation, illness, pain – no candle or, soap, no mortuary tent, flies thick on everything, no schooling, no wood or coal to boil water and typhoid  rife.  She kept diaries, recorded women’s stories, saw children dying as she travelled from camp to camp. She sent letters to friends, family members  and government sources in England  reporting on conditions. She took photographs and sent those as well, decided to retrun to the UK  to bring the horrors of the concentration camps to the British public.

She endured much resentment from Britons who regarded here as unpatriotic at best, a traitor at worst. In turn she pointed out that in September 1901 the number of people in the white camps had risen from 85 000 to 105 000,  that 1878 had died in August,  1545 of whom were children. When she returned to Cape Town in October she was ill and weak, but was arrested by the British on arrival. Detained on board, she was returned to England in a troop ship.

But her efforts  had some effect as conditions gradually improved, at least  in the white camps. Peace was declared  in May 1902 –the  news reached her as she sat alone in France writing her book, whereupon  she “started crying uncontrollably.”

Back in SA Emily visited the former camp sites where locals told her that they had not received any of the ‘reconstruction money of three million pounds’ that was supposed to be apportioned to the Boers. In communication with General Jan Smuts she travelled widely, reporting to the UK regularly on conditions. She then set in motion her ploughing project: newspaper appeals for funds to buy oxen and donkeys were well received, and not only Cape colonists but British donors sent funds to the bank in Pretoria.

Her plans for establishing home industries  revolved around teaching young girls spinning and weaving and  the first school opened in Philippolis in March 1905 using wool donated by farmers.  Soon there were two schools and proceeds helped many survive.

Back in the UK Emily  (predictably) got involved with the suffrage movement, yet stayed in constant touch with South Africa, where a committee was formed to erect a monument to Boer women and children in Bloemfontein. Her health did not allow her to attend the unveiling on December  16 1913, but her speech was read both in English and Afrikaans.

World War 1 saw Emily trying to alleviate the living conditions of civilians in Germany  and Belgium and of Britons interned in German camps. She was  regarded by many as a propagandist, spy and a traitor. Undeterred, 1918 saw Emily co-founding the Swiss Relief Fund for Starving Children, as children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia nad Hungary were sent to Switzerland to regain their health.   South Africa helped fund Emily ‘s purchase of a cottage in St Ives, Cornwall, in 1921. She died in London in June 1926, still hoping for justice to prevail with regard to her work . Her ashes were sent to Bloemfontein and here she was revered  with a funeral service attended by hundred,s with thousands lining the streets at the first and, to date only, state funeral in this country for a foreigner.

My only criticism is that the book design, while attractive and contemporary, is impractical as the use of bold colour backgrounds on many pages render the print virtually illegible.  

 

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Harvest has begun in some regions, while grapes are being sampled and assessed in others as cellars get ready for the first influx of the 2017 harvest. Around McGregor the air is not yet filled with the aromas of crushed grapes, but the trail of trucks loaded with peaches that trundle down the main drag seem endless... With the apricot harvest behind us, and the peak of the tomato season just ahead, we have been bottling our 2016 harvest of ripe olives, making pesto, or rather pistou (no nuts) as our basil plants wave in the wind, wafting enticing aromas toward the kitchen. The first batch of ripe fig jam will be bubbling on the stove soon, although keeping birds, large and small, from our crop, is a thankless task.

 

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Durbanville Hills' maiden chenin blanc 2016  arrived just before year end, and its a charmer, Its fresh and lively, fruity and undemanding, yet far from run-of-the-mill. It's the sort of weekday wine that is ideal for those hot January evenings when a well-chilled chenin will precede your salad supper, accompanied by a further glass. The label offers no clue as to the source of the grapes, but cellarmaster Martin Moore told me that he found old chenin vines on various Durbanville farms to make his maiden vintage. So yes, this is Durbanville Hills chenin from Durbanville valley grapes.

 Selling at R55 it should  hold its own with the cellar's several stellar sauvignon blancs, but you may have to hunt for it - its not yet listed on their website or, at time of writing on the Vinoteque site yet. Worth putting on your shopping list.  

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By the first weekend of February, winelovers should be ready to don something cool and white and head to Leopards Leap Family vineyards for a late summer celebration. The 2017 Franschhoek Summer Wines takes place on Saturday, 4th February, offering a selection of summery whites, roses, Cap Classiques and light reds all suitable for warm weather sipping. Pair them with fare from the rotisserie kitchen and relax on the verandah or lawns as you drink in the valley panorama. tickets cost R180 and are obtainable from www.webtickets.co.za/

at R180 per person.  This includes a wine glass and a tasting of all the wines on show between 12pm 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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DESTINATION MCGREGOR FOR SLOW WINE WEEKENDS

 

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Slow Wine weekends in the picturesque village of McGregor offer two days of diverse wines, fine fare that ranges from gourmet to country, and the unique combination of tranquillity, hospitality and a pace that is as leisurely or lively as visitors choose to make it. Add in attractions like spa treatments, a busy pottery, serene art gallery and welcoming donkey sanctuary and the pressure to book for a stress-free weekend increases. Mid-February is traditionally time for romance, so the forthcoming weekend is entitled Bubbles for Lovers. There's a good choice of sparkles and Cap Classiques available in the valley, including one that's organic.

To find out more visit  <https://slowwineweekends.com/bubbles-for-lovers-february-2017/>and add a plethora of bubbles to your stay in this timeless village.

Looking ahead to late March, the organisers are putting together a four-day getaway focussing on the harvest in and around the Breede river valley. See  <https://slowwineweekends.com/four-day-harvest-experience-17-21-march-2017/>

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                                   2017 PINOTAGE AND BILTONG FESTIVAL  - ESSENTIAL DIARY DATE!

 

 

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Indulge in two of SA’s favourite delicacies on Saturday, 22  April and Sunday, 23  April 2017 at the  annual Pinotage & Biltong Festival, which takes place at  L’Avenir Wine Estate just outside Stellenbosch from 11h00-17h00.   

 A wide range of biltong products will be paired with specific wines from some of South Africa’s top Pinotage producers for each tasting. Guests can taste and buy some of the best red Pinotages or have fun with alternatives including rosé’s, bubblies, blends and even a white Pinotage!

 

The event is family-friendly with live music, food trucks, light meals and casual seating under the trees next to the dam or on the lawns in front of the cellar. The charity beneficiary is Anna Foundation who will be present to entertain the kids and raise funds for their many worthy projects.  Visit www.annafoundation.com for more info.

 

On 14 and 15 October 2017 it’s the turn of Gauteng fans when the festival will be held at the Leriba Hotel in Centurion, Gauteng as part of the official Pinotage Day celebrations, presented by the Pinotage Association.

 

Tickets @ R200 pp includes a branded crystal wine glass, a biltong cup and a pairing card for the Free Pinotage and Biltong tastings.  Tickets  at www.plankton.mobi.   or www.computicket.co.za from 1 March 2017.

 

For more info visit www.cvomarketing.co.za  

 

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FIRE TO FLOWER :  a Chronology after a Wildfire in Fynbos  by Ruth Garland and Greg Nicolson, published by the Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative, 2016.

 

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This large, heavy, stunningly beautiful hardback is both an exquisite  visual record of how fynbos regenerates after wildfire and an important contribution to South African botany, and that of the Cape Floral Kingdom in particular.

In Jan 2011 a fire broke out on the Paardebeg, that lone mountain that looms up on the plains between Malmesbury, Wellington, Paarl and Durbanville. Some 75% of the mountain above the farms was burnt, and, being the first fire in 25 years,    the event offered a fine opportunity to record and observe the plant species as they germinated and flowered after the destruction.

On  the historic Vondeling estate, one of the Voor Paardeberg farms, Dr Bridget Johnsen set about transforming opportunity into reality: She succeeded, but as we can see, it finally took more than five years to achieve in the form of this unique volume.  She engaged botanist and photographer Greg Nicolson to observe, record and photograph the plants over 18 months, in consultation with the Compton Herbarium at Kirstenbosch. Not only did Nicolson identify 1 000 species, but discovered one new to science. Walking the mountain for the best part of  2 years gave him a amazing overview of the animal, bird and insect inhabitants as well, and appealing photographs of these are  included . As Dr Eugene Moll notes in his foreword, the book’s contents capture the very essence of life on and around the Paardeberg, then interprets and portrays a complex ecosystem in simple every day language.

For this, praise must go to Ruth Garland, a writer whose passion for natural history started early in life, thanks to her parents who raised her in Zululand. Setting the scene through geology and climate, she moves on to discuss flora and fire, the latter so critical in the cycle of life in this  region.

After the fire, which raged for five days, Bridget Johnsen, along with neighbouring farmers, established the PSA or Paardeberg Sustainability Initiative which prioritises both flora and fire:  The Paardeberg Fire Protection Association now provides support services to farmers in terms of tools, staff, safety and training, alien control and  fire breaks, and was recently amalgamated with the Greater Cedarberg Fire Protection Association.

Vondeling estate has become renowned for its fine wines, among which are two named after endemic fynbos: Babiana, a fine chenin-led white blend and Erica, a spicy shiraz-based blend, both worthy tributes to their floral sources. A new limited edition red blend, named Philosophie will be launched in March, featuring a painting of a rare Paardeberg flower. 

From the sepia tones and acrid smoke of the post-fire landscape, readers are led on a seasonal photographic journey as plant life emerges . Starting in autumn, with the”ploegtyd blommetjie” the little plough –time flower appearing first,  followed by oxalis and  waterblommetjies, and later the early-flowering bulbs, we see a gradual transformation of the mountainside that continues in a diverse procession of colour, texture and beauty to late summer.  For those amateur (and professional) botanists who want more information, another section offers detail on  the species illustrated.

 For those who just love beauty, the close-ups of petals, leaves, stamens and stems provide a visual  feast that is heart-stopping and seldom seen. As a valuable record, the title is unique. As an inspiration to generations of present and future guardians of our flora, this substantial tome will prove to be priceless.

Among the many people to be thanked for their contribution, is one of Vondelings’ partners, Briton Anthony Ward who sponsored the cost of the publication.

 

Note: This review will also feature in Book Choice on FMR on Monday January 16.

 

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Which bubbly? Which red? and - Are you drinking rosé this Christmas? Answer to the last question, yes indeed. Which? Haven’t decided yet. But here is a foursome that will add lustre to many a table over the festive weekend: all special, all appealing, all quality homegrown Cape wines that I am delighted to recommend.

 

WHICH BUBBLY?

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 Festivities start with good bubbles, and the arrival of the limited edition just-released Krone RD 2001 is an event worth some fanfare. This cap classique has spent the last 15 years ageing sur lie in a cool underground cellar at Twee Jonge Gezellen, Tulbagh’s most historic of farms, developing into a sparkler of note. It's rich and concentrated, yet retains the freshness and fruit of others half its age. The classic aromas of green apple and biscuit are there, while your palate will be treated to some butterscotch and honeyed nuttiness. Low alcohol levels of 11,5% means a second flute is in order, while shoppers can expect to pay between R300 – R350 for this elegant aperitif and effervescent partner to memorable fare.

For further information contact: Abigail Rands on abigail@vinimark.co.za or Ginette de Fleuriot on ginette@vinimark.co.za.

 

WHICH WHITE?

b2ap3_thumbnail_GlenwoodSauvignonBlancSemillon2016verklein.JPGAnother five-star blend in the making? Likely to be, this elegant Bordeaux-style white blend, which saw its predecessor, the 2015,  awarded that status. Made from 22-year-old vines, probably at their peak, this GlenWood sauvignon blanc/semillon 2016 (50/50 blend) which spent seven months on lees in tank is a fine example of Franschhoek fruit, GlenWood talent and craftsmanship, producing a delicious meld of sauvignon- granadilla and bracing freshness with the cream and richness of the semillon. Moderate alcohol levels, screwcapped and ready to enhance a feast of seafood, the fact that it sells at a budget R90 ex-farm adds greatly to its appeal. For more info, send an email to info@glenwoodvineayrds.co.za

 

 

WHICH RED

b2ap3_thumbnail_NE-Stellenbosch-Cabernet-Sauvignon-2013.JPGNeil Ellis has long been renowned for his fine wines, including cabs, produced during his illustrious career which saw him buy in parcels of grapes that met his standards, and marketing the impressive results under his own label. Today he has a fine cellar and tasting centre near the foot of the Helshoogte pass, and his three children have taken over winemaking (Warren), Charl (business) and Margot (marketing).

 While the top-of-the-range Jonkershoek Valley 2013 cabernet is just about sold out, fans of this classic cultivar could well invest in a case or two of the regional Stellenbosch cabernet sauvignon 2013 and get a bargain at the same time: For just R145 they will receive a fine, modern cab under screwcap sporting its Veritas gold and Tim Atkin best-of stickers, where Stellenbosch fruit and oak dance nicely together – a quarter matured in new wood, the rest in second, third and fourth-fill. It’s full-bodied, with easy tannins and its berried flavours finish with a dash of black pepper. Rare beef, tender lamb, mixed roast mushrooms will all benefit from pairing with this wine – which will also improve with another year or two in cool darkness. Way to go, Warren. For more info, tel 021 887 0649, email info@neilellis.com or go to www.neilellis.com

 

WHICH LIQUEUR?

 

After a decade of dedicated work, Robert Rosenbach of Tanagra Boutique winery and distillery can take a bow or three.b2ap3_thumbnail_Tanagra-orange-liqueur.jpg

 

Not only are his red wines and fine cab franc rose in demand, but he and Anette have built an enviable reputation for impressvie grappas and eaux de vie, the latter offering adventurous palates exciting fruity flavour including lemon and quince. Just as their farm and guest cottabes are geared to green living and conservation, their products are produced adhering to a similar philosophy. So, its no surprise that their latest, simply labelled Orange Liqueur, is a brilliant distillation of ripe, aromatic, organic oranges - the entire fruit - to which syrup is added as the alcohol is slowly diluted to a level of 25%. It is clear and inviting, unfiltered and its jewel-like orange hue captured in slim 500ml bottles. 

It offers intense, delicious bursts of flavour - orange juice, peel, blossom - that's fresh and moreish and lingers on the palate. Don't know which is better - to dilute it with bubbly and serve as a unique aperitif or keep it neat and partner it with seriously dark chocolate at the close of the meal. Either way, it should be really cold, and it you want a bottle or two, don't leave it too long, as its a limited edition and there's not much left. Priced at R180, enjoy every sip. Visit  www.tanagra-wines.co.za or call 023 5251780 for details.

 

 

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Wineland news, events and seasonal attractions for December and into January 2017.

 

Travellers taking Route 62 will find new attractions at the historic Boplaas Family vineyards at Calitzdorp.The latest addition to their distilled product range is the Boplaas Whisky, a blended cask aged grain whisky,  to be enjoyed on the rocks or with a mixer.The Boplaas Whisky is made from maize, and distilled to an alcohol content of 93% and then diluted with distilled water to 68% strength.  Aging takes place in American oak  for between 54 and 60 months.  This is followed up with a short period in Boplaas brandy barrels. The whisky is again diluted with distilled water to 43% and then bottled unfiltered.

Then there's the Boplaas Stoepsit bistro - self-explanatory eaterie to visit.b2ap3_thumbnail_boplaas-something2.jpg

Pop! Pop! Pop! Boplaas will operate a pop-up tasting station in Sedgefield from the 16 - 31 December (excluding Sundays) where visitors can  taste the wine ranges, place an order and get it delivered to their  holiday destination in the Garden Route (next day deliveries, except on public holidays and weekends). For  more information, phone 044-2133326,  or email boplaas@mweb.co.za, admin@boplaas.co.za .

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Diners Club Winemaker of the year 2016

 

At a gala dinner last week, Pierre Wahl of Rijks received this award – many would say it was overdue.  Pierre commented "It has taken 21 years of love, determination, and patience to be named Winemaker of the Year. At Rijk's we concentrate only on Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Shiraz which has allowed me to focus and understand  these cultivars over time from budburst to harvest. “ Congratulations Pierre.

 

 

 

For visitors who prefer an informal feast with delicious wines, Delheim’s riverside picnics offer laidback lunchtime feasts on the Klip river banks, surrounded by abundant birdlife.                          b2ap3_thumbnail_delheim-picnic-2.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_delheim-picnic-1.jpg

 

The picnics for two cost R460 and the fare is plentiful, from cheese and charcuterie through to salads and roast beef bagels. Mini milk tarts make the finale. Vegetarian options are available as are children’s picnics at R100. A bottle of the estate sauvignon blanc or pinotage rose or cab/shiraz blend accompanies the fare. The Delheim picnics are offered seven days a week. Book by phoning 021 888 4607 or email restaurant@delheim.com.

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NEDERBURG PLANTS NEW VINES IN OLD SOIL

 

Platter’s Winery of the year has been planting interesting new cultivars to honour, they say, founder Phillipus Wolvaart.

Chambourcin a French-American hybrid grape, is one of them, noted for dark colour and spicy black cherry and plum flavours, noted for its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions as well as pests and diseases. Nederburg has also been experimenting with  Mediterranean varietals that are well-suited to changing climatic conditions for more than a decade.  Tempranillo and Graciano were established at their  Simondium farm in 2004, and a small mixed block of Carignan and Grenache on the farm in Paarl in 2008.

Varieties such as Chambourcin, Vidal blanc and Seyval blanc are being planted, both to battle climate change and help eliminate pest and disease control by planting disease-resistant cultivars.

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FACET         FOUNDATION         EXPANDS       FLEET      OF        MOBILE  LEARNING 

CENTRES

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Graff Diamonds’ charitable initiative, For Africa’s Children Every Time (FACET), recently  announced the expansion of the Graff Mobile Learning Centre fleet in the Cape winelands.In partnership with the Pebbles Project, three additional mobile units will be joining the mobile library and computer lab which have been in operation since 2014. Founder and director of the Pebbles Project, Sophia Warner, explains, “The t new Mobile Learning Centres are literally ‘opportunities on wheels’. They’ve taken our after-school programme to a whole new level and will have an even greater impact within the community.”

 The centres provide much needed after-school support for scholars between the ages of 6 to 18 years whom attend local public schools throughout the Cape Winelands from Stellenbosch Valley to Citrusdal in the Cederberg Mountains. The FACET Mobile Learning Centres have grown to include 2 computer labs, 2 travelling libraries and a multi-purpose vehicle for more remote areas. They assist 522 students in the fields of   basic mathematics, literacy and computer related skills.  The challenges of poverty, alcoholism and increasing school drop-out rates affect education in these areas. The FACET Mobile Learning Centres fulfil an acute need among the region’s disadvantaged youth .In their partnership thus far, the Pebbles Project has received financial support from the FACET Foundation to the amount of R20 million.

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JANUARY 2017

The family wine estate, Jason’s Hill Private Cellar in the Slanghoek Valley,  is the venue for the not-to-be missed Jason’s Hill Makietie Outdoor Music Show on Saturday, 28 January 2017. Look forward to an explosive lineup of SA’s finest performers. See much loved Afrikaans performer, Laurika Rauch, live. She will be joined on stage by Loki Rothman for part of her performance. Potchefstroom native Bouwer Bosch and Cape Town based musician Gerald Clark will also perform. Relax on the immaculate lawns while the kids run around before the show starts at 6pm (gates open at 4pm). Delicious food and refreshments will be on sale.. Secure and free parking.. Tickets cost R180 per person and can be purchased from Computicket. For more information contact Jason’s Hill Private Cellar on 023 344 3256 or info@jasonshill.co.za.

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Stellenbosch Harvest Parade in City of Oaks

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The oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch will be invaded by a colourful community of winemaking charismatics on Saturday, January 28. The annual Harvest Parade ushers in the grape harvest season with convivial cheer, paying homage the invaluable contribution of South Africa’s farm workers. This  Stellenbosch procession traditionally includes marching bands, Cape minstrels, drum majorettes and a flotilla of beautifully decorated tractors, trailer and trucks. The trouperepresentsparticipating wineries and will meander its way through the streets of Stellenbosch

b2ap3_thumbnail_SWR-Harvest-Parade-1_20161213-125555_1.jpgThe Harvest Parade, presented in conjunction with the Stellenbosch Municipality, gets underway on 28 January from 9am. It will be followed by a harvest blessing ceremony at the town hall in Plein Street at 10am. It signals the start of the Stellenbosch Wine Festival presented by Pick ‘n Pay, which takes place at the Coetzenburg sports grounds from 24 to 26 February. Buy tickets now at www.webtickets.co.za. For more information visit www.wineroute.co.za; contact Tel: 021 886 8275, or send an email to marketing@wineroute.co.za.

 

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Mr Analjit Singh's transformation of the upper end of Huguenot street in Franschhoek is, I think, complete. With the reorientation of Le Quartier Francais, the opening of the Leeu House boutique hotel, plus neighbouring Tuk Tuk, with its Mexican fare and artisanal beer, the face of this once rustic part of the town has been altered  to one of  sophisticated frontages that conceal luxurious interiors. With Marigold, Franschhoek's first restaurant offering North Indian cuisine, the choice of international fare has further broadened. Heading the kitchen is the charming Vanie Padayachee who has crossed the road from Le Quartiers kitchen to specialise in what she knows best at Marigold.

Guests were treated to a vibrant feast of flavour at a series of luncheons hosted by marketing head Nicolette Waterford, just ahead of the official opening.

Our menu was authentic both in flavour and dish titles, so we were pleased to have a knowledgeable manager to translate and explain the oriental delights. We started with Indian street food - little rounds of potato and tamarind  containers into which a chilli-spiked sauce was poured. Palak Chaat is the name of a spinach-based wedge of almost pizza-like snack, which came next, one of my favourite items, while Punjabi samoosa complete the appetiser trio.

Main courses included Palak Paneer, the classic cottage cheese and spinach sidedish to soothe palates coping with the fiery topping to Nimbu Machli Tikka, lemony fish. The perennially popular butter chicken (Murg Makhani) was there, along with lamb biryani accompanied by rice sparked with cumin. Delicious naan and wholewheat flatbread should not be missed, while yoghurt and cucumber raita helped temper the heat of the main dishes. 

The menu reverted to English for the dessert - attractively plated tandoor-baked pineapple and saffron crumble with coconut and a fennel seed kulfi made a memorable finale.

The restaurant is open  for both lunch and dinner from Tuesday dinner to Sunday dinner, closed Mondays and Tuesday lunchtime. Bookings to 021 876 8970 or email restaurant@Marigoldfranschhoek.com

 Hotel guests at either  Leeu House or Le Quartier Francais can cross the road to sample these oriental menus, while day visitors should arrive early to get parking, or make arrangements when booking, as Franschhoek's main drag is already crammed solid with cars from 9am. 

 

 

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Two family-focussed cookboks - one local, one British -  and the new edition of Platter's wine guide make a trio ideal for festive gifts - and for keeping on our own bookshelves.

 

FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY by Nicky Stubbs. Published by Human & Rousseau, 2016.

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Visually  appetising, this hardback is a delightful addition to any cook’s bookshelf. That said, its particularly appeal lies in its trusted tried-and-tested recipes, a collection  ideal for keen, but inexperienced family caterers.

As the title tells, the focus is on delectable, do-able fare that friends and family adore, that they expect to find when turning up at Stubbs’ home, invited or just dropping in hopefully at teatime. This hospitable cook qualified with a Cordon Bleu course, has cooked professionally in London and France, run restaurants, given cookery classes and written for magazines. But her passion is catering for those who sit around the family dining table, sharing both simple  meals and elaborate celebrations. This compilation  is, she states “…a love song to the family and friends who have fed me, taught me to cook, eaten and cooked with me.”

Useful tips precede recipes which, start, naturally enough with breakfast, go on to starters, simple meals, vegetables and salads. Main courses are slotted into categories – chicken, beef and lamb are followed by pork and seafood. A few condiments (pesto, hummus, tartare sauce) give way to a substantial section of bakes, whilepuddings complete the menu with perennially popular classics, from crème brûlée to malva pud, pavlova to icecream, pears in red wine to a baked almond and lemon finale.

Recipes are illustrated in colour, and presentation is just what novices need: a brief description of the dish, clear ingredients, and step-by-step method. Small tips (eg advice on what kind of plate to use during a dipping process ) may seem old hat to many, but will be appreciated by beginners.

Were I to cook a Christmas dinner from this title, I would start with Stubbs’ gazpacho, follow with her slow-roasted chicken and lamb recipes, and add melazane for the vegetarians. Dessert  could star her Christmas icecream bombe. In place of mince pies, teatime treats would include her Squidgies, a simple, no-fail recipe if there ever was!

One of this year’s best local cookbooks, crisp and clear, with old family photos that enhance appeal and emphasise recipes designed to delight palates of all ages.  

 

SUPER FOOD: Family classics by Jamie Oliver. Published by Michael Joseph of the Penguin Random House group, 2016.

 

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When one looks at the list of Jamie’s cookbooks, starting with The Naked Chef released in 1999 and including a title nearly every subsequent year, one can be forgiven for wondering what  he could still offer family cooks in the way of new and delicious fare? Last year he published his  Everyday Super Food, and in the introduction to this Super Food, Oliver states that readers requested a compilation of updated  family classics that are also balanced and healthy, rewritten to offer meals that “…fuel, revive, restore and energize…”

There’s probably a good reason why the health and happiness chapter is located at the back of the book. Here Oliver presents his tips, tricks and advice on food, nutrition and wellbeing.  Perhaps the publisher thought that some parents would not take to lessons on  balancing proportions from the five food groups,  staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, getting moving and eating more fibre! But Jamie’s preachings are easy to digest and he is renowned for having contributed to better diets for thousands of Britons and their children. He embraces organic, promotes carbohydrates (eat your heart out Banters), and empahises the importance of chewing properly. He also suggest setting aside more time for meals, at home, at school, at work. A chapter entitled Healthy gut, happy body investigates the roles of prebiotics, and probiotics,  and there’s plenty on the importance of drinking water, preferably from the tap. Limit sugar intake, cook with your children, grow food, and support farmers’ markets, he urges.

Recipes start with breakfast ideas,  including some super smoothies. Good variations on boiled eggs are followed by  interesting pancakes, used as  containers for healthy fruit, protein, grains, nuts, coconut and more. Quick snacks include 18 options for teaming avocado on rye toast with a host of other ingredients. Quick fix meals  includes a Japanese miso stew sparked with dried seaweed, mixed greens, exotic mushroom and tofu on brown rice noodles.  Adventurous creations are  balanced by classic pasta and sauces. His comfort food classics  - such as shepherds pie – are given extra veggies and pulses to increase fibre and vitamin content. Salads are equally colourful vitamin- rich meals and similar treatment is afforded to   curries and stews using Indian, Thai, African and Chinese influence.  The chapter of tray bakes  present oven-baked meal s-in- one dish – nad his   Sicilian fish  with aubergine, tomato, pinenuts and raisins on wholewheat couscous looks fabulous. There is a fair number of vegetarian dishes and, finally, recipes for batch bakes for healthy bulk cooking and freezer standbys.

This is a dessert-free cookbook that is also sans confectionery or sweet treats for coffee and teatimes!

Oliver’s talent for food photography is  evident in the appetising colour images on every other page. Add in a couple of his wife Jools, himself, and endpapers filled with snapshots of children of all ages harvesting, cooking and eating, and you have in your hands another surefire culinary success story.

 

PLATTER’S 2017 SOUTH AFRICAN WINE GUIDE. Published by Jean-Pierre Rossouw for Diners Club International.

 

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Forest green, this 37th edition is, presenting 660 pages of information and  ratings on about 8 000 wines and their cellars , in an alphabetical arrangement of South African producers of wine and brandy. Starting with a pithy and well-constructed  summary of trends in SA wine, (which deserved a byline) followed by editor Philip van Zy l’s introduction, readers will find the five -star wines of the year listed and who’s who on the tasting team .

Some 520 pages of entries offer comprehensive listings of wines produced and tasted, plus facilities and attractions at the cellar door along with opening hours. This section  precedes an industry overview, information on wine bodies, wine-growing areas, grape varieties and details of competitions and awards. Styles and vintages are discussed ahead of  wine-tasting  and winemaking terms.

Wine route information  is always sought after, and this section includes details of wine tourism offices, wine tours, restaurants and accommodation in Cape Town and the winelands. The updated maps  which indicate positions of cellars are equally essential items for travellers. Information on disabled access to wineries and farms is a project in action as two disabled winelovers are in the process of assessing whether destinations that advertise themselves as disabled-friendly, are, in fact living up to this.  The initiative is being funded by Platters.

As always, this is an essential companion for locals and travellers to our winelands and is still among the best and most comprehensive in the world: It is  edited with care and  proofed diligently  with a treasury of information packed into one fat pocket book .

The guide, which sells for R215,  is also available as an app for iPhone and Android and as web-based version for desktop and mobi. See www. wineonaplatter.com.

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