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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Visit the Capegate Facebook page for the latest news and updates or


Rare wine gems at Nedbank CWG Auction Showcase




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

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

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





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


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


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



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

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


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


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

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

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




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Can it really be nine years ago that the Burger family celebrated the 100th anniversary of the planting of their 1908 muscadel vineyard, the oldest of its kind in the country? I do remember it was a party of note, one of those Robertson valley occasions that linger in the memory.


Fast forward six years and the family marked 150 years of Rietvallei being owned by the same family: Six generations of the Burger family have contributed significantly to the fine heritage that Robertson enjoys in the field of viticulture that moved, in the early days,  from fortified reds to quality white, red, rosé and bubblies over the decades.

The estate lies in the KlaasVoogds ward , about eight km east of Robertson off the R60. Vineyards of diverse cultivars flourish there, enabling cellarmaster Kobus Burger to produce a comprehensive range of wines, along with the current vintage – 2013 – of the unique renowned 1908 Red Muscadel

The popular, well-priced John B wines make up an entry-level range that has 

.just undergone a change of label – the new ones reflect the trendy retro-type of graphic art so in vogue today. The wines are noted for delivering quality at a pleasing price, with still wines selling for R46 and the pair of bubblies for R73.


I find this characteristic  particularly evident with the sauvignon blanc 2017, which b2ap3_thumbnail_rietvallei-Sauv-Blanc-2.jpgI enjoyed more than some at near double the price. It’s one of those well -balanced sauvignons that is neither over-acidic nor floral and flabby: winemaker Kobus Burger has crafted a fresh and flavourful wine offering some grassy and citrus flavours, followed by wafts of melon and sub-tropical flavours and backed by a hint of flint . Alcohol levels at just over 12% add to its charm

Its red 2016 counterpart, with an equally moderate 12,8 alcohol level, presents an attractive, moreish blend of 56% cab with 44% Tinta Barocca. Presenting easy-drinking pleasure around the braai or the fireplace, this screwcapped red is medium- bodied, fruity and smooth with spice from the Tinta Barocca adding interest. A great everyday red for pairing with informal meals, both indoors and out.

The John B rosé 2017 is a semi-sweet charmer, that will appeal to many who savour floral aromas and berry flavours in a crisp pale salmon wine. Produced from cinsaut, with low 12,23% alcohol levels, easy to understand its popularity, while I would like Rietvallei to come up with a gourmet cinsaut, dry and succulent, which could be a spring sensation.

The duo of sparkling wines are priced at R73 each, the Chardonnay Brut 2016 offering a light, lively, dry bubbly, with characteristic apply flavours: Carbonated class that makes a perfect brunch aperitif, solo or combined with fresh peach juice. Its pink companion, selling at the same price, is a fruity semi-sweet rosé 2016, berry-rich with a touch of Muscat to finish, that will fit the bill for many an occasion throughout the seasons.

More to come, as I look forward to trying the new estate vintages when released next month.   

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School holidays mean lots of extra traffic on the N2 as families head down to the Garden Route or move inland to Karoo destinations.  It’s also whale-watching time in the Southern Cape when locals argue about which bay is the best from which to watch the great mammals and their offspring cavort in the Indian Ocean .

Baleia means whale in Portuguese which ties in with the vineyard’s location in St Sebastian bay which is known as South Africa’s whale nursery.

Travelling winelovers should note  that there is a fairly unique tasting room, deli and restaurant on the N2 about 1`km from Riversdale as you head to Mossel Bay. There you will find the Baleia Wines cellar and La Bella restaurant and deli, and can taste the small but interesting range of wines and take home their olive oil as well.

Dassieklip  farm is sited near the hamlet of Vermaaklikheid where the Joubert family started producing wine and olive oil a few years ago. Their wine range, made by Abraham de Klerk has caught the eye and palate of many a connoisseur: the vines, rooted in  limestone soil are also conditioned by  the bracing, sometimes windswept Mediterranean climate of that coastal area,


The 2013 vintage of their flagship Erhard pinot noir notched up  awards, and the 2014 has nowb2ap3_thumbnail_Baleia-Erhard-Pinot-Noir-2014.jpg been released, a medium-bodied garnet-hued wine with moderate alcohol levels and rich tannins which promise longevity. There’s a herbiness along with the characteristic earthiness of the cultivar, and this could be a pinot to squirrel away for a few years and then open to increased enjoyment. It costs R180.

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