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

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

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

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

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

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



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My admiration for those wineries which  have taken the decision to go organic, both in vineyard and cellar, and get certified to that effect, is considerable and ongoing. Not only does it involve much extra work, both physical and written, but this worthy dimension adds substantially to the cost of wine production.

Reyneke Organic Wines was the first South African wine farm to be certified as such  for both grape growing and production. They have gone one step further, practising biodynamic viti -and viniculture on their Polkadraai farm Uitzicht.

As most readers know, this means firstly that the vineyards are herbicide, pesticide and fungicide-free and, in order to be self-sustaining, they recycle wherever possible. They  work in harmony with the moon, and study the constellations to create fine wines, working at nature’s pace, following natural and cosmic cycles. It all makes for a holistic environment in synergy with their vegetable gardens, animal husbandry and people, along with conserving  pockets of indigenous fynbos..


Reyneke Biodynamic syrah 2015 has already impressed both local and overseas critics and understandably so.  The nose, aromatic with berry flavours gives way to a palate where fruit and spices mingle, while substantial tannins, add weight. But the freshness and purity – consistently present in Johan’s wines – are there, adding up to well balanced complexity that will continue to develop over the next few years. Moderate 13% alcohol levels are in keeping. At R175 it’s reasonably priced, given its pedigree.

The biodynamic range consists of four reds and four white wines, and there is a pair of organic wines in addition.

It’s worth noting that the farm is open for sales on weekdays,but visitors need to make an appointment for tastings, vineyard walks and cellar tours. Contact 021 881 3517.

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The fact that Boplaas now makes a substantial range of fine table wines, and brandies, does nottake away from their exceptional reputation for fine Cape port wines and muscadels.  A few years ago they added a complex red blend named Gamka, to their ranges, named  after their lifeblood river that flows past Calitzdorp to the majestic Swartberg mountains which form the picturesque backdrop.

Now there is a partner, in the form of a white blend, called, sensibly Gamka Branca, and this 2016 maiden production of 1400 bottles  add quality diversity to the ever-growing number of fine Cape white blends.

I confess to this being my favourite class of Cape wine, especially when chenin-based, but I savoured this generous, exotic meld of cultivars with distinctive character that reflects the Klein Karoo, even though only two of its components were sourced from Boplaas vineyards

Gamka Branca consists of about 60% Elgin chardonnay, with Stellenbosch grenache blanc and viognier,  Boplaas verdelho and Swartland chenin. After fermentation in old French oak the wine wines spent nine months in more old French oak before selection, blending and bottling, unfined and unfiltered. Alcohol levels have been  kept to a  moderate 13%  The wine presents a complex blend of citrus and stone fruit flavours, a little spicy oak and discernible tannins adding characterful complexity.

While it will no doubt benefit from cellaring, it will also add new and delicious flavours to our sundowners and festive tables during this summer and next autumn . I am looking forward to pairing it with more than seafood, as I think its going to partner  diverse fare with panache.

Gamka Branc already displays on its bottle its impressive scores in the 90’s from Tim Atkins and Platter, alongside its four and half Platter stars.

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With chenin blanc now firmly established as the cultivar that not only celebrates more than 350 years of Cape history and not only occupies more SA vineyard area than any other white varietal, but that produces   top chenin blancs that are being recognised across the globe as the best on the planet. Confirmation of this can be seen in the rave reviews and points awarded to our chenin blancs from acknowledged experts – recently UK guru Tim Atkin MW awarded the trio of 2016 Mulderbosch Single Vineyard chenins scores of 96 (Block A), 95 (Block W) and 93 (Block S2) respectively in his 2017 Special Report on South African wines.


While the Swartland has happily claimed to be home to the finest chenin terroir, Stellenbosch has quietly been upping its chenin blanc production to prove that this pioneer region can – and does – produce exceptional chenin blancs.  The Mulderbosch trio is a good example, each chenin offering a distinct expression of place, with Block A  - sourced from the southern slopes of the Bottelary Hills -  perhaps the friskiest, with exotic fruit aromas followed by dry but concentrated fruit on the palate.

  Vineyard Block S2, whose grapes  came from the northern slopes of the Bottelary Hills, is more complex, its  golden hue offering hints of the power ahead. Dry and savoury, the nose of caramel is as rich as the flavours that follow, and  there’s a saline hint in the mouthfeel and long finish. A connoisseur chenin to savour now or squirrel away for a future occasion.

Block W also presents a hue of deep gold and is probably the most complex chenin of the three. The vineyard that produced these grapes is sited in granite close to False Bay. 

A wealth of fynbos and herby aromas leads to citrus and flint on the palate in a rich,  powerful but well-balanced wine.

All the vines are more than 30 years old, and the fruits of all three were harvested in the same way, being  whole- bunch pressed. Used 225litre French oak was chosen for fermentation and maturation.

These limited editions make wonderful festive gifts for Christmas and fine partners for New Year al fresco fare.  They are also likely to produce yet more SA chenin fans who will  sing the praises of our superb chenin blancs. The recommended retail price is R250 each.

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There are many winelovers who would not think of tucking into a festive feast of beef fillet, leg of lamb of a haunch of venison without a bottle or two of excellent Cape cabernet sauvignon. Their source of origin is likely to be Stellenbosch or Paarl, both regions which have proven over decades to be home to the terroir required to produce acclaimed cabs.  Here’s news of three champions, each one of whom will grace tables set for holiday fare, from gourmet braais to trad and trendy menus for Christmas and the New Year that follows.






Ladies first, so take a bow Andrea Freeborough, cellarmaster at Nederburg, who is celebrating the fact that the 2013 Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon has been judged the best cab at the IWSC 2017 competition. It triumphed against others from several countries, scooping the Warren Winiarski Trophy, following on a similar victory last year when its companion cab, the Nederburg Private Bin R163 cab collected the trophy for best cabernet at the show.

This year’s winner, part of the II Centuries range, was made from low- yielding dryland Paarl vineyards, and spent 30 months in new, second and third-fill oak. It is a compelling cab, rich yet fresh, with ripe tannins and the characteristic cabernet flavours of dark berries and plums, with notes of cassis and aromatic wood. It packs an alcoholic punch at 15% and in something of a hat trick, its successor, the 2014 vintage, is Platter’s Red Wine of the Year in its just-released 2018 guide.

My 2013 sample was packaged to impress in a leather banded black velvet-lined case, which must have added considerably to the costs. It makes a fine gift for any and every occasion.





There can be very few people in the wine world who do not share Etienne le Riche’s well-deserved reputation as 'king of South African cabernet' although as modest as he is, he would not flaunt that informal title. But he does say with conviction that Stellenbosch is Cabernet country, and has spent more than three decades proving this statement through a succession of brilliant vintages. The Le Riche cabs have now officially come of age as its 21 years since Etienne went on his own, setting up his cellar in the Jonkershoek valley and sourcing the best grapes for his wine across the region.

The maiden vintage in 1997 was voted five stars in the Platter guide and this was followed by a succession of acclaimed cabs. His son grew up at his side, went on to study viti- and viniculture and joined his father as winemaker in 2010. Today Etienne continues to be the driving force behind the winery, while Christo adds a modern touch while maintaining the philosophy of quality, consistency and elegance.


In 2013 the family built a new winery on the lower slopes of the Helderberg but grapes are still sourced from Stellenbosch growers in different microclimates.  

I was unable to attend the Le Riche family’s recent vertical tasting of their cabernet, but have been  privileged to sample the  two 2014 vintages, the flagship Reserve and the  cabernet sauvignon that's the backbone of the range.

The Reserve is, as its name implies, the wine that embodies the best that can be made, where no effort or cost is spared to ensure quality that is  made to age. The 2014 spent 22 months in French oak, 62% of it new, and presents an impressive  classic cab, with prominent  freshness as wafts of cedarwood and blackcurrant are repeated as flavours, alongside juiciness , lively tannins, and a long finish. Already rich and elegant, but will continue to improve for up to a decade, its an aristocrat whose qualities are reflected in  retail prices of around R550.

The Cabernet 2014 does not suffer by comparison, as it's a hugely enjoyable wine that delivers everything cabernet fans look for: berry and plum aromas dominate, but there’s a hint of vanilla and cedarwood. The tannins are smooth and nicely balance the juicy fruit and agreeable freshness which adds up to pleasure that is also so approachable: this style adds appeal to a wider market who may have found earlier Le Riche cabs on the austere side.  Like the Reserve, alcohol levels are kept at 14%  and consumers can expect to pay between R210 and R250 in stores countrywide. Both wines will elevate main courses of beef, lamb, meaty fish and game bird dishes to memorable celebrations.

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