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Myrna Robins

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Posted by on in Events

 

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This annual star still ranks as most winelovers’ favourite excursion, and with good reason. The 2018 Wine on the River takes place over the weekend of October 26 – 28 and is offering visitors some tempting new events along with well-established favourites.

Let’s look at what’s new in 2018.

Nedbank has come aboard as sponsor, which is good news all round. Those who would like to venture further than the festival riverside site can now hop onto a wine safari truck which will take visitors through vineyards and on to old underground cellars while listening to stories behind the vintages (R150pp).

For another first, the festival have organised glamping on the river banks a little way from the festival. After your visit, head to tented accommodation for some stargazing around open fires while enjoying toasted marshmallows... The two-night package, which includes 2 weekend festival passes, 2 boat cruise tickets, shuttle to and from the campsite, interactive tastings and complimentary wine costs R2 000 for a couple and requires pre-booking.

Tech types will be delighted to find the festival a cashless celebration, as the QKR! Booking platform enables simple, safe activity bookings along with the Masterpass scan-and-pay for cashless transactions. Your wallet can stay in your pocket, your purse in your bag.

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Then all the old favourites will be on the menu, in their 2018 guises and vintages. More than 30 cellars will set up their stands.  Winemakers, chefs, craftspeople from around the valley will be on Goudmyn farm to present their wares, to wine and dine you with the best of both. Those looking for in-depth vinous experiences can book for the interactive tastings which cost only R80.

Having tasted and discussed, buy and load your boots with your choice of wines, for the festive season and with special gifts for those who could not make it.

The annual Duck Derby is another old favourite, with proceeds going to the Zolani Youth Choir. Proceeds from the boat trips down the Breede on  Viljoensdrift's flat-bottomed cruiser will go to the Breede River Hospice. Fancy a flip over the riverside celebrations? Book a chopper ride and view the action from on high for a memorable experience.

As in previous years shuttle services to and from the festival will operate from Robertson, Bonnievale and Montagu on the Saturday.

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Time now to book those tickets and get Early Bird discounts. They cost from R150 to R350 with free entrance to children under 18. Master Pass discounts are also available via Webtickets.

Need more info? Visit www.robertsonwinevalley.com, email events@robertsonwinevalley.com or call 023 626 3167.

See you there....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on in Events

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by on in Events

 

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

In date order:

 

Wine & Fynbos Cupcake pairing

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

 

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

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

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34th Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction

 

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

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CELEBRATE FARM LIFE AT THE “GROOT PLAASPROE”

 

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

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RMB WINEX 2018

 

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

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Celebrate in Full Bloom at this year’s Protea Party

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There are few winelovers who do not enjoy a story or a snippet of history around the wine they are opening. It not only adds interest but brings the producers and their farms and cellars into the homes of consumers, to the benefit of both.

Excelsior estate in the Robertson Wine Valley has a history as colourful as many, and fifth generation owner Peter de Wet is happy to share the family story with visitors to his hospitable farm and with those in the 20-odd countries across the globe who stock his wines.

Two diverse animal species have helped the De Wet family to fame and fortune since 1859 when one Koos de Wet settled near Robertson and started farming at Excelsior. Kowie de Wet became a successful ostrich breeder, as well as a wine producer and the manor guest house is today attractive testimony to his affluence, when it was built and furnished in the Cape Revival style. When ostrich plumes went out of vogue, Kowie and his son Oscar turned to breeding racehorses and cultivating vines, thus saving this feather palace from insolvency.

Two 20th century racehorses owned by the Excelsior stud, both of whom helped bring fame and fortune to the De Wet family, are honoured with a pair of fine red wines. Back in 1913 Excelsior imported a champion Hackney sire, named Evanthius, from overseas who continued his winning streak in South Africa, winning many titles.

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San Louis was a successful racehorse who fell ill in 1979 and was expected to die, but seven months later had recovered and went on to win the 1981 Guineas, one of South Africa’s most prestigious race.

Both the wines are from the Reserve range Their black bottles and gold banding and words on black labels lend sophistication but are moderately priced at R156.

Evanthius 2013 cabernet sauvignon was sourced from berries of 30-year-old vines. Full-bodied, with characteristic nose of dark berry and cedar, the smooth tannins are well-balanced by fruit. Enjoyable now, but should continue ageing well for some years. It’s four-star Platter status is enhanced with platinum from the 2017 Michelangelo contest. Alcohol levels of 14,5% are on the high side for current trends.

San Louis 2015 shiraz from a famous vintage year was chosen as a Platter “hidden gem’ in their 2016 edition. Expect to find the typical shiraz spiciness along with wafts of oak, cherry flavours and a hint of chocolate on the palate. AfFull-bodied wine that will take on rich casseroles of venison and gamebirds with panache.

A third wine from this range, Gondolier, a merlot, was not tasted. For more information, see www.excelsior.co.za

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Posted by on in News

 

Many entrepreneurs were inspired to launch new products or projects at the dawn of the new millennium. Looking back 18 years on, that of the Retief cousins of Robertson’s Four Cousins range of easy-drinking, affordable wines stands out as one of the most successful in South Africa.

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Today they can claim that their range is the country’s biggest selling bottled wine brand. Given their family background and compare that to some of the giants in the industry, one has to applaud this achievement with admiration. The cousins – two sets of brothers – launched not only the wines, but themselves as an intrepid foursome as they marketed their friendly affordable wines country-wide with skill and determination.

 

Today Phillip Retief, the marketing and finance member of the quartet notes that Four Cousins has been “embraced by South Africans” both in the Cape, in Soweto and Gauteng, in KwaZulu-Natal, by university students and in general the young consumer. They saw that the untapped market preferred sweeter wines, so that’s what Four Cousins gave them.

The group are marking their 18th birthday by revamping the packaging , putting all wines under screwcap, making their labels bigger and better.

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The range consists of five still wines – dry red and white, sweet red and white and sweet rosé while there is a quartet of sparkling wines, rosé, blush, red, sauvignon blanc and white which they suggest will make a fine pairing with macaroons, the trendy sweet snack that is a must- have item at every occasion. As the younger consumer is targeted, its pleasing to note that these wines generally sport low alcohol levels, ranging between 8 and 12.5% 

 

An awesome achievement Bussell, Phillip, Hennie and Neil - here’s to the next decade and continued success as the Four Cousins reach every corner of our country and  find even more fans in the  62+ countries across the globe. Wow!

 

 

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Having made a sizeable splash on the Cape wine scene with their captivating Carménère 2016, it’s time to look at the other reds flowing from Lozärn Wines at Doornbosch farm in the Bonnievale area.

 

Appearances do matter, and the first impression of the two reds I was about to open is one of sauve elegance – Black bottles, black labels, minimal text. In front the labels just inform, in bronze lettering that this is Lozärn shiraz 2016 and Lozärn Kay’s Legacy 2016, but down the sides of the wrap-around label, there is more info.

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To the shiraz first, made from 16-year-old wines – this is medium-bodied, offering wafts of berried fruit with more on the palate. There is an attractive purity, which, (dare I say it?) could be attributed to a woman winemaker, as I have experienced this characteristic far more with wines made by females. The tannins are still quite grippy but are sure to soften over the next year or two to meld happily with the fruit.  Tasters could (or should?) also detect coriander, cranberries, cloves and goji berries in this wine, which is enjoyable already, but is going to improve even more with time. Alcohol levels of 14% do not intrude, and the wine is aimed at the upper end of the middle market, retailing at R260.

Kay’s legacy is a red blend made up of 53% cab sauvignon, 33% merlot and the remainder cab franc, a Bordeaux mix that promises a portent of pleasure to come... Winemaker Salome Buys-Vermeulen has crafted this as a legacy to family matriarch Kay Sedgwick (of sherry fame) who married Sebastian Smuts who managed the vast Vergelegen farm for some years, so the vinous connection was present in both sides of the family. Kay farmed in the Robertson valley from 1923, mostly with ducks and chickens and named her farm Lucerne (or Luzärn). Her son added vineyards when he took over and his son and grandsons, the fourth generation, now run the farm in the Bonnievale area.

The wine came with suggestions that we could expect to find fennel, mint, star anise and dandelion – I detected a little mint but the others escaped me. But it is a wine that one can linger over and find new aromas and flavours as the levels in the bottle drop... Alcohol 13,5% and retail price of R300

The tasting samples sent to media were stylishly presented, complete with little packets of spices which added agreeable aromas to the air in my study.

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Posted by on in Recipes

ANATOLI: Authentic Turkish Cuisine by Tayfun Aras published by Human & Rousseau, 2018

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Just the name induces memories of exotic meals enjoyed back in the late 80’s when we had to remember to book a table, as Anatoli was usually fully booked.. Dining there inspired me to investigate this wonderful cuisine further, and when I learned  that it's regarded as one of the top five cuisines in the world, I wasn't  surprised.

 

As country-dwellers we have become more reliant on our own cooking skills, and I am often pleased that I have a little store of Turkish  recipes in my handwritten recipe books. But what a treat to get this delectable collection from the present owner of Anatoli restaurant, recipes much embellished by his life story. He enjoyed an enviable childhood in a suburb of Ankara, brought up in a house where the garden fruit trees provided dessert and his mother encouraged him, the eldest of three sons, to take an active interest in family cooking.

 

Although he has a degree in archaeology he spent time selling carpets and souvenirs in Marmaris for several years where he absorbed the seafood and wild greens diet of the locals and, after marrying and starting a family, he and Louise moved to Cape Town in the late 90’s. Here he shared his expertise of Turkish braai-ing with locals . In 2003 he bought Anatoli when it came on the market for the second time and gradually adapted the original menu by introducing a new repertoire of mezzes.

 

The author ascribes the complexity of Turkish fare to influence from the vast territories of the Ottoman Empire, which spanned areas in Europe, the Caucasus, western Asia, north Africa and the horn of that continent. He brought in Turkish apricots, spicy beef sausages, sumac, Turkish coffee, raki and other ingredients at first, but now that Cape Town is more international it is easier to find most of these in the city.

 

Tayfun’s recipes open with a description of basic and essential ingredients that home cooks should have. Mezzes follow, ranging from a simple dish of varied olives to baby marrow fritters, from Circassian chicken paté to hummus, stuffed vine leaves to fava, (broad bean puree), red pepper pesto to borani (spinach with yoghurt and sultanas), tarama to tzatziki. You will also find kofte, (meatballs with tarator sauce), shakshuka (an eggless version) and aubergine dishes.

 

Anatoli’s popular bread recipe precedes main course dishes which are sourced from all regions in Turkey, some adapted to suit local palates. Most are served with fragrant rice but bulgar pilaf makes a good alternative.                                

There are classics like Imam Bayildi,   etli dolma 9mixed vegetables filled with spiced lamb mince), lamb shanks, lamb ribs, sultans delight ( cubed lamb served on smoked aubergine puree). Chicken baked with feta combines enticing flavours, and then we move to a selection of kebabs.                                            

 

Dessert is important in Turkish cuisine, and fruit compotes, milk puddings and of course baklava and kadayfi are classic examples. I like the look of apricots stuffed with almonds and cream and cream-filled stewed quince halves.

 

The final chapter, From my Home Kitchen, presents dishes too time-consuming for restaurant inclusion. Readers will find  some appetising salads, delicious brunch choices - including halloumi cheese baked in moskonfyt! -   a mussel stew, shrimp casserole and instructions for making Turkish tea (coffee is dealt with earlier in the book). Adventurous vegetarians will find plenty to chew on in this treasury to expand their repertoires as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A treasury of wise sayings accompanies the recipes in this book which is illustrated with plenty of appetising photographs, with the fare competing with some dishes, beautifully decorated china or metal dishes. Mouthwatering in every sense of the word.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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A KOEKSISTER TO FOLLOW...

 

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Stellenbosch Hills is adding a sweet finale to its biltong and wine pairing for the month of September, with a heritage dessert, in form of koeksisters, to be paired with their Muscat de Hambourg. Visitors can start with the pairing of their white and red wines with a range of biltong and droewors , then go on to choose a plaited or Cape Malay-style koeksister to finish. The pairings cost R75, and bookings can be made at 021 881 3828/9.

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DE KRANS BLOSSOM FESTIVAL

 

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A great way to swing into spring! This festival takes place over the weekend of September 1 - 2 and invites guests to jog or wander through vineyards and orchards in full bloom. Prizes await those who take the best photos on September 1. Prebooking is essential. Other activities include a farmers' market on the Saturday, live music, meals at the De Krans Bistro and Deli, wine and port tastings and a champagne breakfast on the Sunday. Bookings for this are advised. For more info contact Bessie Swanepoel at 044 213 3314 or email dekrans@mweb.co.za

 

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BOT RIVER SPRING WEEKEND

 

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Food, wine, music and entertainment for all members of the family is on the menu for this weekend bash, taking place on September 1 & 2.  Events are hosted by the various farms, including a scavenger hunt for grownups where particpants have to complete challenges prompted by a mobile phone app. There's yoga in the vineyards, meeting Nguni cattle, a farmers' market and wine launches on the programmes. Steak and curry nights and an ox braai add choices to dining, while the Bull fest theme gets carried through to clay bull shooting and taurean treasure hunts for children. Tickets cost R100 per day and obtainable through Quicket.  For more info contact  Melissa Nelsen at Melissa@genevievemcc.co.za.

The cellars will also be holding a tasting of new vintages at La Tete restaurant in Bree Street, Cape Town on Wed August 29 at 18h00. Tickets cost R200 and are available on quicket.com.

 

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CWG AUCTION 2018

 

The 2018 Nedbank Cape Winemakers' Guild auction takes place on Saturday 29th September at Spier Conference Centre. Registration closes on September 19. The collection of 48 individual wines that will go under the hammer comprises 31 reds, 14 whites, two Cap Classiques and one port-style wine. For more info visit www.capewinemakersguild.com or call 021 852 0408. A selection of the auction wines will be available for tasting in Cape Town at the CTICC on August 16 at 18h00 and in Johannesburg at the Atrium, Nedbank Sandton, on August 22 at 18h00. Tickets cost R350 and can be purchased via webtickets.co.za

 

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Calitzdorp, like other parts of the Little Karoo is still struggling with drought conditions. Yet nothing seems to stop the wine producers from bringing out great wines, both easy-drinking bargains and superb port wines for which the region is renowned.

De Krans is a fine example of a cellar that continues to produce world-class ports even while releasing an increasing number of white and red wines that are attracting awards at our national contests.

As budgets decrease thanks to rising petrol and other prices, winelovers are looking for affordability along with quality. The De Krans Basket Press cabernet sauvignon 2017 fits the bill nicely, an easy-drinking, warming, ruby red wine, presenting smooth tannins, cherry and plum flavours and offering moderate alcohol levels of 13,5%. At R65 it is accompanying many a winter casserole and braai, while also making a cosy fireside aperitif.

 

Looking ahead to a spring that hopefully brings seasonal showers, De Krans released its 2018 Pinotage Rosé a while ago, probably one of the first wines of this tough drought-ravaged vintage. However this attractive salmon-tinged dry blush wine, with very moderate alcohol levels and priced at R65 does not reflect hard times, but invites patrons to enjoy its berry and rose petal aromas, its fruity flavours and inviting hues – lunch time, brunch time, and the perfect complement to good picnics and other moveable feasts.

 

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While De Krans’s flagship port wine, the Cape Vintage Reserve 2015 is deservedly celebrating a double gold award from the 2018 National Wine

Challenge, I still turn to my all-time favourite, their Cape Tawny Limited Release, a non-vintage port blended, reports Platter, from wines five to 15 years old. As always, freshness and elegance accompany the rich flavours of caramel and citrus, fruitcake and nuttiness, and it’s unsurprising to see the bottle adorned with a four-and-half star sticker from Platter, gold from Veritas 2017, platinum from the SA Wine Index and a 92 –rating from Tim Atkins’ 2017 report.

I'm off  to shave slivers of vintage Italian Parmesan as my favourite accompaniment to this tawny delight.

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Posted by on in Restaurants

DELHEIM’S VEGAN-FRIENDLY DUO

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The 2018 white and rosé wines are trickling onto the market, and will soon become a steady stream. Among the early birds are the new vintages of Delheim’s perennially popular pair- their sauvignon blanc and their pinotage rosé.

To start with the latter, this blush has a long and illustrious history, being produced regularly since its launch in 1976, when the late Spatz Sperling first presented it to the local and German markets. It offers a good mix of candy and berry aromas, while the berry flavours on the palate are balanced by crispness and faint floral wafts of perfume , thanks to a tiny portion of Muscat de Frontignan. The prevailing drought has not affected the usual good quality and the moderate alcohol levels of 12,5% add to its attraction. Expect to pay around R75.

The 2018 sauvignon blanc will please a wide variety of tastes, as its nicely balanced, green fig and citrus notes complementing a hint of flint. Alcohol levels are moderate at 13,5%, and this wine, while fresh as a daisy, is not overly acidic. It sells for R79.

Both wines have a band on their back labels stating Suitable for Vegans. This is a good idea if, as Delheim says, they have had an increase in queries from visitors and diners as to the acceptability of their wines to vegans and vegetarians.

Of course today dozens of producers do not use egg white or fish products in the fining of their wines, while others, choosing the minimimalist approach, are not fining their wines at all. Bentonite is the product most widely in use today, a type of clay that is far less messy than working with egg whites which used to be popular. Delheim is one of the cellars that has been using bentonite for several years.

 

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ROBERTSON WINE VALLEY SLOW FOOD &WINE FESTIVAL

 

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The 12th annual event takes place from August 3 – 5. Always a great way to experience the winelands in slow mode, unearth wonderful wines, dine at farm-to-fork eateries and stock up with value-for-money quality.

Make up your itinerary – fireside dinners with the winemakers, wines in underground cellars, single vineyard tastings, game drives, boat rides – then book each event individually . Finish by spending time at the Family Market on Sunday – it’s always worth the while. Seewww. robertsonslow.com for online bookings, call 023 626 3167 for more info, or email events@robertsonwinevalley.com with questions.

 

REGIONAL SHOWS IN PRETORIA AND BLOEMFONTEIN

 

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Michael Fridjhon will present two regional shows, the first of which is a new event, the Capital City Wine Show taking place at the Maslow hotel in Menlyn on 26 – 27 July. Renowned cellars and boutique producers will be showing their fine wines from 17h00 to 21h00 on both days. Early Bird tickets cost R180 for each night, until July 22, then R200 therafter and at the door. See www.capitalcitywineshow.co.za for list of exhibitors.

The Free State Wine Show takes place on August 2 – 3 at ‘Emoya Estate, Groenvlei, Bloemfontein from 17h00 to 21h00 on both days. Early Bird tickets cost R160 for Thursday and R180 for Friday, thereafter R180 for Thursday and R200 for Friday and at the door. Visit www.freestatewineshow.co.za for list of exhibitors.

 

STELLENBOSCH CELEBRATION OF WINE

 

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This new event takes place from August 2 to Sunday August 5 at the De Warenmarkt in the heart of Stellenbosch. Among the events on the programme are a Boutique wine tasting, a Women-in-Wine brunch, a formal dinner titled In the Company of Legends and a dinner focussing on Father & Son – winemaking duos who will share their stories. The final event on Sunday is the Cabernet Long Table, a four-course meal showcasing cab with every course. To book visit www.wineroute.co.za and for info call Elmarie Rabe on 021 886 8275

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TWO NEDBANK CAPE WINEMAKERS GUILD AUCTION SHOWCASES

 

Meet CWG member winemakers and sample their wines at one of these showcases ahead of the CWG Auction on Saturday September 29.

The Cape Town event takes place on Thurs August 16 at the CTICC from 18h00. Tickets cost R350. Book via www.webtickets.co.za

The Johannesburg event takes place on Wed Aug 22 at the Nedbank Sandton Atrium from 18h00. Tickets cost R350. Book via www.webtickets.co.za

 

FRANSCHHOEK UNCORKED FESTIVAL

 

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Embrace spring in all its rural finery at the weekend Uncorked Festival over September 15 – 16. This is the time to amble from one estate to another, tasting new gems and classic wines, while visitors can also enjoy themed tastings, bespoke meals, old school lawn games and more. Book through www.webtickets.co.za, tickets cost R150 which gives access to all farms taking part, free tastings and glass. For more info contact 021 876 2861 or visit www.franschhoekuncorked.co.za

 

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According to one guest, there wasn’t a bed left in the guest houses and BnB’s of Bonnievale and surrounds! It seems that Bonnievale’s launch of their River Collection was a large and popular event and I was sorry to have missed it.

But I have tried the quartet of 2018 wines that currently is available: three whites and a rosé, which will be joined by some 2017 reds later this year.

 

 

To rewind, for a moment, to the time when Bonnievale wines was founded half a century ago, the cellar produced accessible  ranges to 2006 when a three-way merger saw the winery join forces with Merwespont and Nordale co-ops, under the Bonnievale name. CEO John Barnardt has been at the helm ever since, taking the business to higher levels, so that when their 10th anniversary was celebrated in 2016, the producer was known as a cellar that remains unpretentious while delivering well-made fruit-driven wines at pleasing prices.

 

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Carina Gous joined the team as strategic brand advisor recently, while the winemaking team is headed by Marthinus Rademeyer (who made the chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and cinsault rosé), while Jean Slabber’s signature is on the label of the chenin blanc.

Turning to the wines, which form part of a new collection that celebrates the Breede river, the cellar’s lifeline and “the core and heartbeat of our wines” to use Barnardt’s phrase. They are all priced at R57 at cellar door and all share modest alcohol levels - both on-trend and welcome - of 12,5%, with the rosé coming in at 12%.

 

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They are approachable, enjoyable and well-made, offering good value: the chenin is, in particular, a pleasing addition as there are few offering such good value in the Robertson valley. I also liked the chardonnay which is well rounded, offering citrus and stone fruit balanced by a little oak. The sauvignon blanc is crisp without being over acidic and leans to the tropical fruit rather than green style, while the rosé is  very light-bodied, with  little cinsaut character evident.

 

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Over the last few years the quality and diversity of wines available from the producers in the McGregor valley have rocketed, When talking to visitors and wine lovers in other centres it was clear that few people knew just how good and diverse the offerings are. This led to my creating the McGregor Wine Meander which forms an informal link between the local outlets and provides travellers and locals a vinous route that can be visited over a weekend or longer stay. 

We invite you to ramble or run, hike or bike, trot on horseback or just drive your four-wheeled chariot through the valley, pausing wherever you feel like sampling one of our charming wines or sipping a grappa or eau de vie.

Here below are a couple of excerpts from the website, starting with the introduction.

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At present there are six members, and this number is set to rise by one or two more. Starting at the Robertson end of the McGregor/Robertson road, the first cellar is Tanagra Winery & Distillery, followed by McGregor Wines. Bemindwyne and Grape De-Vine are in the middle of the village, with the latter acting as tasting centre for Solara Organic Wines. Beyond the village, some 10km uphill, lies Lord's Wines, the highest cellar in the Robertson Wine Valley. 

 

Please log on to www.mcgregorwinemeander.co.za to plan your route and click on each member to obtain their details.

 

 

McGregor Wine Meander

Amazing diversity. Consistent qualityGreat value for money.

This best describes the wines and spirits that flow from the farms and cellars of the valley that encompasses the magical village of McGregor.

Where else would one find such extraordinary variety within one small wine-producing district ? Cellars ranging from garagiste through boutique to a large co-operative. Single vineyard white, red and rosés. Fine Cinsaut and Colombard that take these former humble – now trendy – grapes to new levels. Irresistible award-winning Cap Classiques. Internationally registered unforgettable organic sauvignon blanc and pinotage. Highly rated popular cabernet sauvignon and, of course, soetes, in the form of warming red and white muscadels.
And, from a small distillery, a range of world-class grappa or marc as its also known, along with eau de vie produced from both red and white wines. And there’s more in the guise of a fruit-based range where apricots, peaches, lemons and organic quinces play starring roles. An inviting village wine boutique doubles as a tasting centre for one farm while providing locals with a meeting place of note.

Only in McGregor!

This little route can be compared to a jewelled necklace, along which a handful of farms and cellars perch as gems waiting to be unearthed. The winemakers, viticulturists and farmers (sometimes all-in-one) share qualities like talent, passion and hospitality – the old adage, ‘arrive as strangers, leave as friends’ – could have been coined especially for this valley.

Welcome to The McGregor Wine Meander,

a slow and winding 15km route through vine-clad hills, past orchards, farmsteads and between stretches of veld where nature rules supreme. After leaving the village the road climbs to the foothills of the Sonderend mountains, where the final destination boasts heart-stopping views over the valley.
In anticipation of your tastings, we would like to raise a glass in welcome with traditional toasts of Cheers! Gesondheid! And, with a nod to our Scottish heritage, Slainte!

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KAROO FOOD by Gordon Wright, published by Struik Lifestyle, 2018.

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This second title from Gordon Wright is another "must-have" for every keen cook and for those aiming to become hosts whose meals are memorable and hospitality unsurpassed.

Chris Marais, who spends his life writing about the Karoo, describes Wright in his foreword as “an ambassador for the Karoo,... the life and soul of our party... as a chef who “lives, breathes, laughs, drinks with and cooks for his Karoo people...”

Wright lives up to this description with enthusiasm as he shares his expertise, starting, naturally, with Karoo lamb and mutton. Lots of advice interspersed with recipes less obvious than roast leg or shoulder, here we find roasted lamb belly, lamb sausage, roasted rump and mutton confit. On to beef, with tips on ageing, making broth and rubs preceding recipes for  oxtail, skirt steak and rib-eye with marrow bone sauce.

Venison gets special treatment with Wright presenting a friend's blueberry and sage wors, bobotie, sautéed kidneys, sosaties, fillet, biltong, even venison crisps as snacks, meaty alternatives to crisps. We also find venison meatballs, pie, tartare and skilpadjes (liver in caul fat).

His poultry and wild fowl chapter offers a creative variety, opening with homemade chicken nuggets served with black olive ratatouille dip – great for a first course while the braai is doing the main. Peanut chicken in cream is an easy oven -to- table dish with Indonesian overtones, andthere’s a delicious looking guinea fowl stew which is,  Wright says, a Karoo version of a cassoulet.

A chapter on charcuterie and curing will delight those wanting to get down to more than frying and braai-ing,  and then the scene turns to seafood (enjoyed during holidays on the coast) and a few vegetable soups and salads. The smoking and braai chapter will please outdoor cooks who are adventurous, and prepared to spend time on prepping their meat or poultry.  The book concludes with a few heritage desserts. Every item is photographed superbly by Sean Calitz, while his landscape shots add the perfect  ambience to this out -of -the- ordinary collection of modern Karoo cuisine with a nod to traditional favourites.

It’s good to see the same professional publishing team still working together to produce the most appealing cookbooks, food with flair and stories to digest, as well as  photographs to admire even as our mouths water. As always, Linda, Cecilia, Bev and others combine talents seamlessly and, for me, evoke happy memories that go back a good decade.

                                

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There are many sunny winter days when one looks for white wines that are alternatives to summer specials like sauvignon blanc. This is the time to sample Rieslings and Gewurztraminer and the 2016 vintages from Paul Cluver make an inspired choice.

I recently enjoyed every sip of the Paul Cluver Dry Encounter Riesling, as elegant as ever, offering a fine combo of citrus notes and flint with a lick of cream on the finish. Not a trace of petrol on the nose or palate, just a delightful aperitif or a companion that quietly enhances sophisticated fare, from white meats and fish to blonde soups and patés. As Riesling was one of the original cultivars planted when the family started making wine, the vines are probably at their peak. Its very moderate alcohol levels of R12 % add to its numerous charms. It sells for R110.

The renowned Elgin farm is also punting its 2016 Gewurztraminer, offering some fascinating tidbits of history about the cultivar in well-written press releases. Describing the vine as culturally confused we learn that it is Italian (Tyrolean in fact) in origin, made famous in France and German in name, it travels further as the ideal partner to Asian and Middle Eastern fare, and can complement chilli-spiked dishes with panache. I think its also worth trying with the gentler curries of the Cape Malay cuisine and some Persian – now Iranian – classics. Cellarmaster Andries Burger describes the nose as reminiscent of pelargonium, honeysuckle and jasmine flowers, whereas most Gewurz presents rose, litchi and melon – so theres a wide choice. I picked up rose, melon and mixed floral scents, leading to a mixed bouquet on the palate alongside a frisky freshness that prevents this wine from becoming overwhelming or too intense. It is, of course, off-dry, is rated four and half stars in the current edition of Platter, and costs R100.

I would have liked to have had more information on the age of the vines, and comments from Andries on the winemaking of this fine duo. For more info, visit www.cluver.com

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Friday July 6 2018

 

 

Two days ago, Renata Coetzee’s latest work – another striking social history dealing with early South African cuisine – was shown to the committee of the McGregor Heritage Society. Recently released, a local resident had given a copy to the Society, a gesture much appreciated. Unknown to us, the author had recently died, bringing an era of impressive and prolific research to a close.

 

According to the notice in today’s Cape Times, Renata was born in 1930, and certainly lived life to the full to the age of 88. Her research in to our early eating habits saw a number of titles published, and these were readable, enjoyable books, rather than dusty tomes. Her interests were not only acadaemic, but practical, as her weighty manual on creative catering proved.

 

But let’s backtrack for a minute, and have a quick look at her impressive career. Her initial degree in dietetics was awarded at Potchefstroom, but she received her Masters degree in home economics at Stellenbosch University. She studied food and nutrition at three universities in the US of A between 1959 and 1974 and lectured at the University of Pretoria for some years .

 

Her first title The South African Culnary Tradition was published in 1977, a delicious mix of social history and eating habits of the early Cape Dutch community from 1652 to 1800, with more than 100 authentic recipes. It’s a title that has always been at my side when writing about the historic aspect of our cuisine , whether for the Cape Argus, for magazines or for any of my own titles.

 

Her interest in the food of Southern African tribes saw intensive research being conducted over several years, at a time when this received scant coverage in English and Afrikaans cookery books. Renata’s second book, Funa, Roots of traditional African food culture was the result, and one on the customs and traditional fare of the Batswana followed.

 

As the new South Africa came into being, Renata was ready on the gastronomic front with a large manual containing the fruits of long labour. Cost-Consious Creative Catering was launched to provide mass-catering for every cultural taste in South Africa. In a hand-written note she told me that this ground-breaking achievement presented user-friendly recipes , with clear instructions, for caterers to provided “Africa’s Natural Nourishment” as she termed it, in portions ranging from 50 through 200 to 1000.

 

Here her experience as Anglo American’s Gold and Uranium division manager of dietetics and catering becomes clear, as does her decade as senior dietician for Stellenbosch university. As a commercial venture she packaged traditional ingredients like sorghum, marogo, isjingi into quick-cooking food packs for caterers and included dozens of dishes that used traditional fare, with western ingredients (pilchards, bread, cheese, salads) to produce healthy and varied menus for balanced meals.

 

Fast forward to 2010 when Coetzee and photographer Volker Miros launched Kukumakranka: a triumph of a title embracing Khoi-Khoin Culture, Customs and Creative Cooking. Acknowledging contributions from those who talk about Griqua and Nama diets, this precious item of Africana is dedicated to the Khoi-Khoin women, who showocase their art of cooking on these beautifully designed and illustrated pages.

 

Around this time Renata advised the owner and chef of Solms-Delta near Franschhoek on what to plant in their veld-food garden and what to put on the menu to reflect the fare enjoyed by the region’s early inhabitants. The results have seen travellers from across the globe sit down and try ingredients truly foreign to them, but well received in the farm’s restaurant.

 

I presumed that Renata was enjoying well earned retirement in Stellenbosch. What a thought! Her latest and final title is a culinary and historical swansong that will surely complete some forgotten aspects of our nutritional habits that she wrapped up quite recently. I have not yet got hold of a copy, but will do so very soon.

 

In the meantime, my admiration and heartfelt thanks  to this amazing lady, whose unfailing enthusiam,  talent and work lives on between the covers of her titles.

 

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Just what many of us need right now! Midwinter blues increased by rocketing petrol and other prices. Depressing ongoing national political news and Cape shenanigans that don’t inspire trust in municipal or provincial management.

Perfect timing, then to find a red and white wine that manage to offer cheer on several fronts: Stellenbosch Hills – long known for affordable quality wines - launches a pair of blends that retail for just under R45 each, which doesn’t dent the budget much.

Then, having tried both of them, one finds that – as expected – they offer uncomplicated sipping, but a lot more. Both these wines offer enjoyment way beyond their price – they are well-balanced, presenting fruit, freshness and enough backbone to make them meaningful wines.

And thirdly, there’s a feel-good angle as well: A percentage of Polkadraai wine sales is channelled to the Vlottenburg Primary School through the Polka Kids Community Project. Stellenbosch Hills has been a patron for a decade now, and shows no signs of stopping. Even if that percentage is very small, after 10 years the cellar’s contribution has made a good deal of difference to those 400 pupils.

The 2017 Polkadraai Pinotage/Merlot slips down like silk, easy enjoyment as a fireside aperitif, comfortable companion to pizza, pasta, sausage and mash and a whole menu of comfort suppers. At 14,5% alcohol levels, the second bottle needs to be watched with some care.

By way of contrast the 2018 Chenin Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc is a mere 12,5% alcohol-wise, is fruity and gentle and not bone-dry, but not flabby, and will accompany easy dishes like apricot chicken bakes happily.

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The pair make  the maiden vintages of his Focal Point Collection and there’s more in the pipeline, with a cab to come. Arco Laarman, whose name is almost synonomous with fine chardonnay after his long stint at Glen Carlou, went solo a few years ago, presenting his Cluster Series last year, and this impressive pair, both 2017 vintage, a couple of months ago.

Dubbed the Focal Point, Laarman explains that this range concentrates on specific vineyard sites to express their character, by making a wine that reflects a specific place and time. Deciding on Chardonnay as the maiden white was a given, while settling on Cinsault for the red was influenced both by the existence of fine old vineyards to tap into and the fact that its star is on the rise, just as chenin’s was a decade agao – and look at that so-called humble grape now.

 

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Laarman found his chardonnay grapes in a vineyard in limestone on the banks of the Duiwenhoks river near Vermaaklikheid, a cool southern region that’s been spotted by several adventurous winemakers in recent years. He does not reveal their age, but he harvested quite late, whole bunch-pressed them and used four different fermentation techniques before maturing the wine – half in new French oak, half in neutral oak for 10 months.

The result is impressive on every count. Elegance and freshness are both prominent, the nose offers citrus and pineapple, while rounded flavours and minerality come through on the palate, with a hint of nougat. Alcohol levels of 14% are unobtrusive. Laarman suggests pairing the wine with sophisticated seafood or roast chicken with asparagus and white wine sauce. I think there are several French gourmet chicken classics that would make an excellent companion, especially those from the north and French Alpine regions. At over R300, it’s a chardonnay to match  with patrician fare.

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To the Cinsault, which Laarman made from berries of 35-year-old vines in the Bottelary Hills. After natural fermentation had taken place and the skins pressed in a large basket press, the wine spent 10 months in 300 litre neutral oak barrels. The result is a delicious violet-tinged cinsaut, where purity reigns supreme, tannins are gentle, fruit, a distinct herbiness and earthiness add to the typical cinsaut character. Moderate alcohol levels of 13% add to its attraction. Those who favour light-bodied reds will be delighted with this fine example, which will enhance warming game bird casseroles, and mushroom dishes – eat your heart out, pinot noir, you have an affordable rival to contemplate. Recommended retail price is R210.

Final comment is on  the distinctive and attractive closure of the bottles which sees conventional cork topped with an innovative cork capsule for re-sealing the bottle. It's made by hand locally, it looks good and, being a natural product, beats plastic and wax seals both in looks and practicality.

For more info, see www.laarmanwines.com.

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As I write this, the snow lies thick on the upper reaches of the Sonderend mountains above McGregor. 

Encompassing the  narrow Slanghoek valley, according to the Opstal receptionist, “ it's white all round” powdering the Badsberge, Limietberg and Dutoitskloof peaks.

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In front of me a trio of Opstal estate’s recent releases, the first of which is Attie Louw’s 2017 chenin blanc, one of the farm’s annual stars, where fruit, freshness, and complexity meld into a delicious whole. Aromas of stone fruit and pineapple greet the nose, while the grapes, sourced from various chenin blocks, after  spontaneous fermentation spent  eight months on the lees, mostly in large French oak, the remainder in stainless steel. Moderate alcohol levels of 13,3% add to the charms of this perennial best-seller, and of course the venerable chenin blanc vines of Opstal add that concentrated character that is so distinctive.

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Next up is Opstal Cabernet Sauvignon & Cinsault, which is how the label lists it, 2017, a 50/50 blend with huge appeal. The cab character – cherry on the nose mingling with herbiness, followed up fruit upfront, the cinsaut contributing its distinctive laidback  freshness, adding up to a delightful wine to complement pizzas, pastas, Sunday suppers, homely fare like cottage pie, toad -in- the- hole, mushrooms on toast... the list is endless. Alcohol levels kept at 13,3%.

Opstal’s cinsaut vineyards, planted in 1997 are celebrating their coming of age, and I hope the Attie will produce a cinsaut soon to mark the occasion.

 

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Both wines sell for R95, while the third, Opstal Blush 2018, costs R70. Described on the back label as 'a bottle of fun', this popular pink is comprised of 70% shiraz and  30% viognier. First made back in 2006 by Opstal MD Stanley Louw , it has remained a popular annual and  best-seller, particularly in Holland . Unique, says Attie, because all the grapes are harvested, pressed and fermented together, so this early combo of berry aromas of the shiraz meet the stone fruit flavours of the viognier to produce a characterful rosé that will take on sushi with panache. It will come into its own in spring, but will happily accompany your chicken pie on a crisp sunny winter’s day.

Talking of which, its time to diarise the annual Breedekloof Soetes & Sop festival taking place over the weekend 20 – 22 July. Get your tickets, plan your itinerary, book your stayover and experience an amazing weekend of outdoor activities, warming fare and both bargain-priced and top of the range wines.

 

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