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South Africa's favourite red wine will take centre stage on Tuesday June 21 when the annual SA Shiraz Showcase takes place at the CTICC in the city. There for the sampling will be the winning dozen - the top 12 shirazes and three shiraz blends that took top honours at the Shiraz SA Challenge awards ceremony in Paarl last month. But, along with with the winners, finalists, more than 100 shiraz and shiraz-led blends will be poured at the show.

Snacks and fare that complements shiraz will be on sale.

Along with the many fans of this spicy red wine a number of restaurateurs, sommeliers and wine students are expected to attend. The showcase is sponsored by Juvenal Cork SA in conjunction with  French Tonnellerie Berthomieu Ermitage.

Cyber Cellar, who will have a stand at the show, are selling to 12 winning wines in two price brackets - premium and great value..Also there will be The Pebbles Project who benefit from the wines remaining after judging. They will showcase their projects at the show.

Tickets cost R120 which includes entry, glass, brochure, and tastings. Book through or from Cape Town Tourism. The show runs from 18h00 to 21h00.





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As June draws closer, there are more tempting wine events to diarise, appetising enough to win over alternatives like fireside cocooning.



An early winter evening to savour! Finish the second week in June with an appetising lineup of the finest chardonnays and pinot noirs from top Cape producers.

Head to the hospitable Vineyard hotel on Friday, June 10 at 5pm and sample these patrician cultivars along with a range of delectable snacks. Stock up with your favourites at special prices before going home.

As before, the event is hosted by Wine Concepts, and tickets cost R170. The Vineyard is offering a special DBB deal at the hotel to complement.

Tickets are available through, at Wine Concepts stores and at the door. For more info, Newlands at (021) 671 9030 or Kloof Street at (021) 426-4401 or email or visit





There’s no excuse for not relishing this lunchtime treat! Eikendal is hosting their Winter Pizza & Wine Pairing every week, from Tuesday to Sunday, from noon to 4pm, until the end of June. For just R50 a head, diners will tuck into a trio of thin-crusted mini-pizzas, topped with a great range of piquant flavours, and paired with the perfect estate wine to please the palate.

Along with the freshly-baked pizzas, children are catered for with cookIes and milk for R30.

The tasting room makes the venue, and the menu includes a Mexicana (Mince, chilli and peppers), accompanied with shiraz, the ham, olive and mushroom partnered with their 2014 pinotage and their fillet and avo served with the 2013 cabernet sauvignon.

 To book for this winter pairing  contact Eikendal at Tel: 021 855 1422 or send an email to



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 Johan du Preez, CEO of Rooiberg Winery, and Mossie Basson, conservationist at Graham Beck Wines recently received the Cape Fox trophy for best conservancy in the Western Cape area of the Conservation at Work organisation.




When it was announced last week that Graham Beck wines was going to focus exclusively on making MCC’s, bubbly fans applauded while others wondered about the future of the fine wines in their still ranges.

The good news is that the future of the highly enjoyable and popular Game Reserve wines is guaranteed with Rooiberg as new custodian. The two wineries will collaborate to ensure consistency of quality, and the range will be distributed by Rooiberg from July.  For each bottle sold R3 is contributed to the Wilderness Foundation’s conservation and education programme.

Rooiberg’s CEO Johan du Preez pointed out the following: .“As Graham Beck’s neighbour in the Rooiberg Breede River Conservancy, Rooiberg boasts a 50-year history and shares its dedication to quality wine production in harmony with nature and in the best interests of the community.  Rooiberg is ISO 9001 and HACCP accredited, a certified Organic Producer of wine, registered for Integrated Production of Wine (IPW)."

The Game Reserve wines comprise seven varietal wines, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage.      

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The COED definition is precise: “spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavoured with juniper berries.”

Ah, but that’s what gin used to be. Reword now to something like - could be juniper-flavoured, but likely to contain others as well. And the alcohol could be grape-based or distilled from cane sugar .…

Both The Guardian and Telegraph newspapers boast very readable articles on the current gin trend, describing it as a re-gineration, and pointing out that 49 new gin distilleries opened in the UK during 2015.

We are not that prolific but the gin craze has hit Cape Town and the Western Cape with spirited force. Not only have gin bars opened in the Mother City but South Africans have a growing selection of craft gins to sip,  sample and compare.

Among the first to tap into the new trend was the Inverroche distillery in Stilbaai which launched its first gin three years ago, according to a fascinating podcast that you can hear on their website. Lauren Scott produces three fynbos gins, classic, verdant and coastal, referring to the area in which the plants are grown. She now exports to 13 countries.

Fast forward to 2016 and head to Blaauwklippen estate outside Stellenbosch.b2ap3_thumbnail_Buitenverwachting_Gin-styled.jpg Adding to their impressive range of wines and brandy, cellarmaster Rolf Zeitvogel launched a trio of craft gins in February, known as the Triple Three. The first, Juniper Berries is classic, described as offering aromas of menthol, eucalyptus, pine, cloves and lime. The Citrus Infusion gin is infused with flavours of organic lemons from Stellenbosch and Eastern Cape oranges, with juniper berries in the mix adding to the complexity of the botanicals (or flavourings.) The third  gin is called African Botanicals, presenting flavours of buchu and rooibos, cloves and pine, plus earthiness of menthol berries, moss and forest honey.

These three cost R300 each and are available from the farm, from Picardi Rebel and Pick’nPay.

To Constantia and another wine farm boasting a 300+ year heritage. Buitenverwachting started experimenting with spirits some six years ago, followed a grappa with an eau-d-vie and a fine five-year-old brandy. Two years ago gin came into the spotlight as Lars Maack and distiller Joerg Saupp spent 18 months perfecting a blend of more than 30 botanicals, including pepper, lavender, orange, and lemon blossoms, rosemary and coriander. Alcohol based on cane sugar proved to be the best base, blended with about 15% grape alcohol.  The Buitenverwachting gin was released a year ago, to great acclaim. Limited stocks have led to some disappointed customers,so visitors should check on availability. Meanwhile Lars and Joerg are now conjuring up a winter gin with a warmer, smoother character to combat chilly nights. More of this later.

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Victorian wine cellar at Mont Rochelle



Great to see winemaker Dustin Osborne back in the mountainside cellar of Mont Rochelle. Pretty sure I recognised one or two of the staff at the Country Kitchen as well; if they were there seven years ago, then I am probably right in thinking I met them when gathering information on this unique farm for my Franschhoek Food cookbook.

Champagne was its first name, given to this picturesque stretch by Abraham de Villiers in 1694. It changed to an equally positive Goedehoop more than a century later, finally was christened Mont Rochelle by a 20th century descendant, Graham de Villiers when he acquired it. Earlier this century then owners of hotel and vineyards, Erwin Schnitzler and Miko Rwayitare merged the two to create Mont Rochelle hotel and Mountain vineyards, and newly appointed winemaker Dustin Osborne started producing some memorable reds, one of which is the farm’s flagship red blend today.

Although Franschhoek is a sophisticated village growing increasingly used to foreigners buying bits and pieces, the acquisition of the estate by Virgin Limited Edition collection, and Richard Branson in particular, caused a buzz, which died down while renovations were undertaken at the hotel and gourmet restaurant, and at the rustic Country Kitchen and picturesque cellar.

The latter two venues have not changed much – the 150 year-old-cellar, a former fruit packshed, is as appealing as ever, although Dustin is happier with new flooring and updated machinery. The restaurant, open to terrace and lawns lining a big dam, is still relaxed, serving deli-type fare inside and out, along with picnics.

During a recent visit, a handful of wine writers started their tasting in the cellar, with a charming sauvignon blanc 2015, grapes from the farm’s 22 -year-old vineyards, the fresh wine with subtle fruit lent complexity by 10% semillon and 2and half % viognier. Well-balanced and a great buy at R85.


Osborne has long been a champion chardonnay maker, and his latest, Mont Rochelle’s 2015 chardonnay is as good as any I remember. It’s elegant, fresh, with tangible minerality, full-bodied, with a long finish. Limited edition from vines planted in ’94, just over half barrel-matured, this is equally delicious as an aperitif or complementing voguish salads and well-bred poultry. We paired

[Caption: Dustin Osborne, Enrico Jacobs and Jenny Prinsloo in picnic mode] Photograph: Shantelle Visser

it with an inspired cauliflower and vanilla risotto – memorable. The wine is also reasonably priced at R100 from farm.

More good news is the launch of an easy-drinking red, Little Rock Rouge 2014, a cab-based blend with merlot and splashes of mourvèdre and petit verdot adding aroma and flavour to a vibrant, enjoyable wine with smooth tannins. Along with its 2015 white counterpart, not yet released, these cost R72 each.

During Dustin’s first stint at the farm he created a fine syrah-based blend named Miko in honour of former owner the late Miko Rwayitare. This flaghip 2009 vintage wine, intense, complex, and well-balanced with dark fruit, spice and savoury undertones, is showing well and is an impressive introduction to the potential of the farm’s terroir.

Our little group had moved through cellar to lawns to tasting cellar to terrace, where we teamed this vinous star with tender venison on sweet potato. Dustin then produced a number of aged cabs which had been discovered under a floor in the adjoining manor house during renovations and an informal vertical tasting commenced, starting off with the ’96 vintage… A few of these may be added to the cellar stock for those seeking museum class reds.


We did not see the hotel or more formal Miko restaurant during our visit but heard that the hotel is just about full until Easter, with bookings for weddings increasing nicely. What impressed me at the winery and Country Kitchen was the informality, the friendly yet efficient service, and an atmosphere that is far from stiff or grand. One gets the impression that Branson, having appointed good staff, is content to leave his estate in capable hands. Global visitors can now move from his private game reserve, Ulusaba, in the north of South Africa to our incomparable winelands, for a holiday that can compete with the best on the planet.

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