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b2ap3_thumbnail_Oude-Molen-1.jpgOnce again, a fine Cape brandy has proved to the world of connoisseurs that top South African cognac-style brandies are up there with the best, and are, in some cases, judged as best in the world. In May this year it was the turn of Oude Molen's XO to bring home gold for its distillers, the only South African entry to win gold in the 2016 Global Spirits Masters.

This London based competition is renowned as impartial and credible, using only independent judges who rate entries through blind tastings.

It was, naturally, great news for Oude Molen distillery MD Andre Simonis, who emphasises that the description of Cape Brandy pays off in marketing both locally and in export markets.

But of course it's basically the impressive quality of this aristocratic spirit that attracts awards, and this is a brandy that offers consumers an almost overwhelming combination of aromas, fruit and layered flavours on the palate with a long, lingering finish. Grapes used in this distillation include colombar, chenin blanc and ugni blanc.

Tropical fruit dominates on the nose, with a little coconut discernible, while the palate will also detect stone fruit flavours, both fresh and dried, before the vanilla undertones from the oak add depth to the meld.

The fact that it is also encased in a beautiful bottle and presented in a stylish box add to the visual appeal and no doubt help account for a hefty retail price of R800. So, the average brandy lover is going to keep Oude Molen XO for auspicious occasions and use nothing except an ice block or two to dilute the mastery in the balloon.

Those consumers whose budget won't stretch to these heights can find more affordable pleasure in the consistently high quality of the Joseph Barry brandies, made at Barrydale, which, incidentally, brought home silver in the same international competition and are also products of the Edward Snell company.

There will be additional reasons to pause at this delightful Barrydale cellar soon as a restaurant is scheduled to open in spring. Apparently the delay is owing to waiting for approval of their liquor licence... a rather ironic situation one would think, given the site of the restaurant...

Meanwhile, hearty congrats to all concerned in the production of Oude Molen XO, available from the distillery in Elgin, as well as other liquor outlets. Edward Snell & Co is the largest family-owned wine and spirit merchant in South Africa.



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If Calling northern suburbs winelovers! Just ahead of spring, head to Capegate Shopping Centre for a great weekend wine fest, taking place from 5 - 9pm on Friday August 26 and from 12 noon to 6pm on Saturday 27th.

Festival visitors can taste and buy more than 100 wines directly from the wineries, which include large producers with well-known brands and smaller boutique and family-owned wineries, giving a taste of the best of South Africa’s winelands in one venue.

The Cape Wine Academy is presenting a wine theatre (Three sessions on Friday and four sessions on Saturday) with fun tastings and pairings on the programme at set times.

Participating wineries include: Alexanderfontein/Ormonde, Arendskloof/Eagle’s Cliff, Beyerskloof Wines, Biocape Wines, Bonnievale Cellar, Diemersfontein Wines, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Deux Frères Wines, Du Toitskloof Wines, Edgebaston, Eerstehoop Wines, Fledge & Co, Groenland, Imbuko Wines, La Couronne Wine Estate, MWS, Orange River Cellars, Overhex Wines International, Perdeberg Winery, Peter Bayly Wines, Stellenbosch Hills, Villiera Wines, Villiersdorp Cellar, Yonder Hill Wines.

The Pebbles Project, which looks after disadvantaged children, especially those impacted by alcohol, is the charity beneficiary of the festival and will be present to spread their message and raise funds and awareness.

Tickets from the door or through  cost R70 pp (Includes a branded tasting glass) Bookings for the CWA theatre sessions can be made at the ticket office.

For up to date information, visit



Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction Showcase of rare, individual wines


This popular annual event takes place in Cape Town on Thursday, 18 August at the CTICC from 6pm and in Johannesburg on Wed August 24 at the Atrium, Nedbank Sandton at 6pm. Tickets cost R250 which includes a tasting glass.

Wine enthusiasts cantaste these unique collectors’ wines crafted exclusively in small volumes for the 2016 Cape Winemakers Guild Auction by the Guild’s 47 members.Members of the Guild will also be presenting some of their acclaimed offerings sold under their own labels. Guests can also bid on rare signed bottles from previous Guild auctions during the Silent Auction. Founded in 1999, the Development Trust seeks to transform the wine industry by educating, training and empowering young talent through initiatives such as the Protégé Programme, a highly acclaimed mentorship scheme for upcoming winemakers and viticulturists.Tickets can be purchased via



  Quest for the Best 2016


The seventh annual Mutual & Federal Agri Wellington Wine Route “Quest for the Best” was celebrated with an awards luncheon in Wellington on Friday 29 July. During the judging process on 21 July a record number of 92 wines by 16 Wellington producers were tasted blind by six well-known judges.  The wines are judged and scored according to a tried and tested points system. 


The judges were: Bennie Howard ,Samarie Smith,Sandile Mkhwanazi, Johann Fourie,Danielle le Roux and Kris Snyman.

 Best top 10 wines from Wellington are:

 Bosman Family Vineyards – Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

  • Doolhof Wine Estate – Lady in White 2010
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Pinotage 2015
  • Wellington Wines – La Cave Shiraz 2014
  • Mont du Toit - Les Coteaux Cabernet Franc 2012
  • Andreas Wine  – Andreas Shiraz 2013
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Viognier 2015
  • Diemersfontein Wines – Woolworths Reserve Collection Pinotage 2014
  • Douglas Green – Douglas Green Chenin Blanc 2016
  • Linton Park Wines - Linton Park Merlot 2015


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Beautiful, bountiful Buitenverwachting, an estate which is allowed to present itself, its buildings, fine wines and gourmet fare in its serene setting without being prodded and pushed by marketing and advertising teams. Everyone there – from courteous owner Lars Maack to those pruning the vines – is aware of just how special this historic, five-star estate is, and gets on with the job of maintaining its fine reputation in cellar, restaurant and coffee shop.  The current edition of the Platter guide sums up its philosophy as “unshowy quality remains the watchword” adding that innovation and experimentation are never excluded.

That well said statement came to mind as I sampled two Buitenverwachting wines that fall into the unusual cultivar class, both limited releases that  deserve to be better-known and tried by the armies of fans who stay with sauvignon blanc and Christine, while adding a couple of cases of the ever-popular Buiten Blanc as their house wine.

Talented winemaker Brad Paton produced the 2014 vintage of 3rd Time Lucky in slightly oxidative style. It’s an aromatic, silky viognier, offering as much  spice as fruit, well-structured with moderate alcohol levels. It is a white wine that works well in the winter months with and without food, but makes a fine companion to well-prepared Cape Malay fish and poultry and Kashmiri dishes.

Brad's MPV 2010 – an unusual blend of merlot and petit verdot is delightfully fresh, the PV adding facets of sophisticated crispness and backbone to the easy-drinking fruity merlot. As well as pairing with lamb, it cuts the richness of rare peppercorn-crusted tuna, roasted in olive oil and served with lemony hollandaise.

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Not before time has winter moved into the Western Cape. This time the Robertson valley and our little village of McGregor have also benefitted from rain, and the veld in the nature reserve filled the air with fresh, herby aromas this morning.

Two wines of pleasing quality added great pleasure to mellow autumn days recently which is why I have paired them in this review.

Cape chardonnay can be very rich and intense, which has me leaning toward the unwooded examples. But Fleur du Cap’s unfiltered chard 2015 is a delight in every aspect, as it retains an elegance and restraint that few wooded ones do. Made by their white winemaker Kristin Basson from Stellenbosch grapes, it offers layered flavour that’s never intrusive, in spite of quite high alcohol levels. It partnered Spanish poultry particularly well, but would complement a range of autumn dishes with relaxed flair. It sells for around R119.



A delicious rosé is nearly always the choice when it comes to late summer al fresco lunches and gourmet picnics. The very title - Gabriëlskloof Rosebud 2016 – brings to mind a pink off-dry partner for strawberry desserts. How wrong this prediction was! This is a dry and delightful rosé, a meld of shiraz and viognier, with enough structure and zest to take on a range of Provencal and Asian classics. It is well worth its R70 price-tag, and is one of the best pinks sampled in a long while.

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The 2002 shiraz was launched in 2004, its Constitution Road name marking its winery’s home address in Robertson as well as 10 years of South African democracy under its new constitution.

Today, some 12 years later, the SA constitution is doing valuable work in upholding various aspects of that democracy while the flagship 2012 shiraz - complete with its new label illustrating the four democratic pillars – continues to offer consumers a rich, succulent wine, aromas of dark plum and blackberry leading to well-structured flavours, spice complemented with a hint of chocolate and a long finish. Along with its four –and-half-star Platter rating, it attracted awards at Decanter World wine, Syrah du Monde, and both the Shiraz SA Challenge and Michelangelo back home.

As the shiraz comes into its own to complement warming winter fare, it now  boasts a partner: Robertson Winery's 2014 Constitution Road chardonnay is a worthy companion, a full-bodied classic , with citrus and toast on the nose, followed by flavours of marmalade and butterscotch, vanilla pointing to its time in new French oak and enough zest to maintain freshness. It will hold its own with a range of dishes from richly sauced poultry and seafood to luscious cheesecake on the dessert plate. It follows its partner by attracting international recognition, in this case from the 2016 Chardonnay du Monde.

The syrah sells for around R180 and the chardonnay is priced at R110. Both are likely to benefit from cellaring - one wonders how many consumer will do this... 

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